Buganda, Mityana leaders clash over 100-acre land

At stake. Magala Health Centre III, which is located on the contested land in Mityana Municipality. PHOTO BY JESSICA NABUKENYA

What you need to know:

Contention. Whereas the kingdom land board wants to repossess the land, the municipal leaders say they want to use it for development projects.

Mityana Municipality leaders have protested a move by Buganda Land Board (BLB) to repossess part of the land housing Magala Health Centre ll.

According to Ms Esther Ndyanabo, the mayor, the disputed land measuring 100 acres was donated to the district by Sir Edward Muteesa ll to serve an isolation centre for people suffering from leprosy although squatters have over the years encroached on the land, leaving only 40 acres.

“Ssekabaka Muteesa was foresighted to donate that land and government saw it fit to put up a health centre there. It will be unfair for the current Buganda Land Board to repossess the remaining piece of the land (40 acres) and leave only three acres for the health centre,” Ms Ndyanabo said in an interview on Sunday.

BLB is the business arm of Buganda Kingdom, which was instated in 1993 to manage part of the assets returned to the Kabaka under the Traditional Rulers Restitution of Assets & Properties Act 1993.

BLB contributes over Shs8b to Mengo every year through collection of rent and granting of leases.
The disputed land is located in Kigenge Village, Tamu Division, Mityana Municipality.

Ms Ndyanabo refuted reports by BLB officials that municipal leaders never showed interest in developing the land yet Buganda Kingdom has a good plan for redeveloping it.

The Resident District Commissioner, Capt Yahaya Kakooza, blamed the problem on the Mityana Chief Administrative Officer, Mr James Nkaata, who negotiated with BLB officials and ended up giving away the municipal land.

“As a growing town, Mityana needs enough land where to put development projects and we cannot afford to lose such piece of land. In my view, what they [district officials] negotiated with a team from BLB is not beneficial to the people of Mityana,” he said. On his part, Mr Nkaata declined to speak about the matter although he admitted being among the district officials who met the BLB team to discuss Magala Health Centre land issues.

“Yes, I attended that meeting but what we discussed is not for the media and that is why you were not invited,” he said.
Mr Denis Bugaya, the BLB legal and public relations officer, said the health centre land is part the properties government returned to the kingdom in 2013.

“We are not repossessing that land [of Magala Health Centre] but it is our land and we have a responsibility to redevelop it,” Mr Bugaya said by telephone.

He added that no one will be evicted from the land and the people whom some local leaders call squatters are free to legalise their tenancy.
“I only appeal to all tenants on the Magala Health Centre ll land to come to Buganda Land Board and regularise their tenancy,” Mr Bagaya said.

In 2013, President Museveni and Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II signed a memorandum of understanding in which the former agreed to return all kingdom property and so far, about 200 titles have been given to the kingdom, but some districts still complain that they have not yet erected their own premises.

Criticism. Buganda Kingdom has of late faced criticism over the rate at which they are leasing out land to private developers, some occupied by Kabaka’s subjects and another housing public facilities.

Efforts. Two years ago, the board kicked off the mass registration of bibanja holders on Buganda Kingdom land across the 18 counties in Buganda as well as sensitising them about the benefits of regularising their tenancy.