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Mayimuna Amin: The woman claiming Mbuya Barracks land

What you need to know:

  • Four decades since the overthrow of former president Idi Amin, his family is still locked in fights with various stakeholders to reclaim the prime Mbuya Barracks land in Nakawa, Kampala.
  • Amin’s daughter, Mayimuna Amin, sat down in an exclusive interview with Saturday Monitor’s Denis Bbosa.

On December 22, Amin’s daughter, Mayimuna Amin, was delighted by the Court of Appeal ruling stopping the commissioner of Land Registration from cancelling her land title. 
Mayimuna has been battling Metropolitan Properties for 11 years over Plot 17 at Mbuya, Kampala. 

Ten years ago, Justice Joseph Murangira had dismissed Mayimuna’s suit with costs, which she successfully appealed against.

The appellate court ruled that the trial judge had relied on documents that had not been admitted as evidence.

Three justices, namely Cheborion Bashariki, Stephen Musota, and Christopher Madrama accepted Mayimuna’s appeal and set aside the order by the trial court for cancellation of her title for the land and all other entries thereon.
While ordering the case back to the High Court to be heard on merit, the justices ordered the Commissioner of Land Registration to reinstate Mayimuna’s land title. 

For now, Mayimuna is in possession of Plot 17 Serunkuma Road. But this is only partial victory, with the final judgement yet to be made over Plot 17 and two others Plots -18 and 19, which house Mbuya Barracks. 
Mayimuna asserts that President Museveni has been central in the Amin family bid to get what belongs to them.

She says Mr Museveni has advised them to follow the court procedures to the dot.

Who is Mayimuna Amin?
“I’m the third born of many children of late president Idi Amin. I was born on November 22, 1969. 
My mother was my dad’s only woman from Koboko from the Kakwa tribe, just as was my dad. I was born in Kampala and started school at Daffodils Pre-primary School in Kololo. 

When dad became president, I shifted to Lake Victoria Primary School in Entebbe and later joined Budo Junior School. 

I also attended Kabale-Mirama Hill, before joining Namagunga Girls Secondary School.  
Unfortunately, we left in 1979 after dad was toppled and we lived in Tripoli, Libya, before we headed to Saudi Arabia.

I’m one of the three formal administrators of former president Amin’s properties, most of which is still being held by the government. 

My other siblings are Taban Amin and Zaitun Kadayi Amin. 
I returned to Uganda in August 2003 after my father, who ruled Uganda between 1971 and 1979, passed on in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 

I returned to inherit the land dad had given us but was shocked to learn that most of it was occupied by the government and the army.

But I have been in touch with President Museveni and it’s him who has advised me to reclaim our land through court processes. 

He promised to follow up the process.

The President assigned his Principal Private Secretary, Flora Kiconco, to help me hasten the process, but we have since moved back and forth. The last time I met President Museveni, he said he would follow up our case and see to it that we get back the land or be compensated if the courts proved we are the genuine owners.

But the struggle to reclaim Plots 17, 28 and 29 has been tedious and has now taken more than 15 years. It is only when I recruited Bashasha & Company Advocates recently that I started to see light at the end of the tunnel.

I have been witch-hunted because of the Amin lineage and seen some lawyers bow out of the case after getting intimidated.

Museveni steps in
I’m surprised that when I talk to the President, he calls me his daughter but there is a clique of people around him bent on failing me.

I’m a fighter and ready for all the obstacles thrown in my direction.
In a letter dated September 30, 2015, Ms Kiconco, wrote to the Ministry of Defence, notifying them about President Museveni’s directive to have the government compensate me for the said land - only after the process is effectively followed through.

“The purpose of this letter, is therefore, to request you for information pertaining to the ownership of the said land by the government/Ministry of Defence to enable us advise His Excellency the President accordingly,” Ms Kiconco wrote in a one-page letter, also copied to the Uganda Land Commission. 

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Defence, Ms Rosette Byengoma, replied to Ms Kiconco, stating that part of the land in question comprising plots 33 to 35 was transferred into the name of Field Marshal Idi Amin Dada on March 15, 1976.

“On October 27, 2006, the Uganda Land Commission secured a land title for the land in question and registered it as Plot 10-40 Kaggo Road. The Ministry of Defence/Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) currently holds the sitting occupants. It covers plots 28 and 29 that are claimed by Mayimuna Amin,” she responded to Kiconco in a letter dated October 22, 2015. 

Ms Byengoma stated that the land now houses the administration buildings and Defence military offices, and that it should be investigated further at the Land Control Authority and Solicitor General’s office.

Ms Byengoma’s letter also detailed how the Mbuya Barracks land changed from the late Idi Amin’s name into his daughter (me) on July 22, 1993, acknowledging that all the transfers were being made when the army was in occupation of the same land. 

But I dispute the Ministry of Defence assertion that the said land is on Kaggo Road - the fact is it is located on Serunkuma Road.

Since the army has already erected administration buildings on the contested land, I can heed to the President’s suggestion that we can be compensated if cleared by all court processes.

Just because my father is no longer the president doesn’t mean I should be humiliated and witch-hunted. That implies that even President Museveni’s First Family will lose their family property once they are out of office.

Mbuya army barracks land
The three plots take a huge portion of the Mbuya army barracks. I shifted from Munyonyo and came to stay on a plot bordering the barracks. This helps me to monitor the land I’m fighting for and also to remind the soldiers that this is our family land that they are currently occupying. I graze my goats on the redundant chunk of land just to keep an eye on the mafias that have sold almost all the properties of land claiming to give it to investors.

Being an administrator of Amin’s family property is one of the toughest tasks because we are all adults now. Sometimes tempers flare over some issues, but I have to be really tough and stand as a woman and say yes or no.

That said, we love each other and joke a lot as a family, but when it comes to administration, I get tough.

Remember, we were born to different mothers and all have different characters yet some are spread across the world. 

We once in a while converge in Uganda and hold functions such as commemorating dad’s demise and use the current technology platforms such as Zoom to talk to those in Australia and America.

Amin the Loving, sporting dad

‘‘I have very many fond memories of my dad.

My father was a very loving and caring man. I can’t forget the day he put me on his feet in the State House corridors and taught me how to dance. He taught us how to play basketball, swimming and boxing. Basically, he brought sports home like he did out for the entire nation.

Former Ugandan President Idi Amin Dada. PHOTO/FILE

I flew from Uganda to join him during his last days on earth in August 2003 and the memory of my then weak dad still shocks me to date.

I had never seen him weak or in bed lying down helpless. Up to now, I don’t even believe he is dead after all those years. Oh dad! (holds back tears).
Nevertheless, in Allah’s name we shall get our properties back.

I can confidently tell you we shall recover everything with time - if it is President Museveni to bring them back, it will be great. If it is subsequent presidents, it is well and good. Whatever is ours will one time return, like dad left state power and even other presidents will. I shudder to imagine the bad precedent this can set.

Can you imagine some of Amin’s property is still hidden and it is the whistle blowers alerting us to reclaim them? Wherever I pass and people recognise me as Amin’s daughter, they give me money. This gives me an impression that dad did some tangible developments; never mind the intended smear campaign geared towards his presidency.

As a family, we are glad that President Museveni has accorded us a peaceful living in the country of our birth. Not all bad that was said about Amin is true. When I look at the structures he built, including hospitals, I feel proud of my father.

But he is peacefully resting in Jeddah and as Muslims, we don’t exhume and transfer bodies.

Get this from me, dad’s body is not coming back to Uganda, although he is here spiritually with us. It is now 20 years since he died and no one in our family has ever asked for his remains to be returned.
 

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