Tooro King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV has discussed with the government delegation to fast-track verification and return of the kingdom’s properties that were grabbed by the central government in 1966 when President Obote abolished monarchies.
King Oyo met the Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, on Monday and their respective delegations discussed how government should return the kingdom properties.
The meeting was part of the implementation of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the return of the kingdom’s assets and properties, which was signed last year between President Museveni and King Oyo.
The kingdom is seeking to recover assets which include land, county and sub-county headquarters, among other properties, which Tooro says were seized by the central government in 1966.
Mr Julius Mucunguzi, the Prime Minister’s Office (OPM) spokesperson, said the MoU outlined the steps that need to be followed to ensure the properties belonging to Tooro Kingdom are verified and handed back or compensated.
“Today’s [Monday] meeting examined the sticky issues that are hindering the implementation of the MoU which include, misinformation and politicisation of land matters in the kingdom,” a joint statement by OPM and kingdom officials reads in part.
“The meeting resolved that a robust public awareness campaign should be conducted to sensitse people about the contents of the memorandum,” the statement added.
The Tooro minister for Information, Mr Charles Mwanguhya, told Daily Monitor by telephone yesterday that King Oyo’s meeting with Dr Rugunda is part of the process that will see the government return what belongs to the kingdom especially its land.
He said the kingdom land which was grabbed in 1966 is scattered across the districts that make up Tooro, including Fort Portal City, Kabarole, Kyegegwa, Kyenjojo and Kamwenge.
He also said the kingdom also has assets in Kasese and Bundibugyo, which were formerly under Tooro Kingdom but are now independent cultural institutions.
“The meeting that transpired between King Oyo and Dr Rugunda on Monday was part of the ongoing meetings that we have been holding with the government for return of Tooro properties particularly land. We hope the exercise is quickened and the kingdom gets its shares as soon as possible,” Mr Mwanguhya said.
He said the major challenge is that the kingdom land is now hosting the central government administrative centres but declined to share information on how they acquired it.
He also said some land is occupied by people, who have been influenced by politicians not to surrender it to the kingdom.
“Some local politicians have politicised this issue, but we are going to hold local meetings to sensitise people occupying the kingdom land that they will not be evicted. We have also started identifying the land that belonged to the kingdom and a final decision will be made by the government. We do not know how long this will take,” Mr Mwanguhya said.
King Oyo was accompanied to the meeting at Office of the Prime Minister by the Queen Mother Best Kemigisa and kingdom officials. He visited President Museveni last year at State House in Nakasero to discuss the return of the kingdom properties.
The discussion was a follow-up on President Museveni’s promise in 2013 that government would return the kingdom properties.
The kingdom officials reminded government that delay to return the properties has affected the kingdom financially because it could rent out those assets to get money to run the kingdom activities.