Minister orders RDCs to arrest stubborn landlords

State Minister for Lands Sam Mayanja, speaks to residents at Kijumba Primary School in Mubende District last Friday. Photo / Barbara Nalweyiso

What you need to know:

  • The minister’s order followed several complaints from the residents of Mubende District that they are having sleepless nights over pending evictions orchestrated by landlords

The State minister for Lands, Mr Sam Mayanja, has ordered all the Resident District Commissioners to arrest landlords evicting lawful tenants.

The minister’s order followed several complaints from the residents of Mubende District that they are having sleepless nights over pending evictions orchestrated by landlords.

The tenants poured out their frustration during a meeting with the minister at Kijumba Primary School last Friday.

Among the landlords being incited is former Kassanda South legislator Simeo Nsubuga, who is reportedly threatening to evict 700 tenants occupying eight square miles of land, which he inherited from his grandfather Nsubuga Mubiru at Kijumba Village in Kiyuuni Sub-county.

“I have instructed the RDCs to keenly investigate the land title of Mr Nsubuga. I also ask you [residents] to collect all the evidence against him and give it to the RDC to have him arrested for violating the Constitution and serve as an example to others,” the minister said,

Mr Mayanja also ordered the RDCs to recommend the sacking of all district police commanders who connive with the landlords to evict lawful tenants.

The minister said tenants’ interests are well protected under the law.

Mr John Baptist Ssempewo, 60, a resident of Kalagala in Kiyuuni Village in Mubede District, said at first, they did not know the landlord, but Mr Nsubuga later came and claimed ownership of the land.

“He [Nsubuga] later convened a meeting to discuss how tenants can live on the land without any disturbance. He  came up with three alternatives, including paying nominal ground rent, sharing the land with landlord or  paying money to regularise our occupancy, but the residents agreed to pay nominal ground rent of Shs30,000 every year,” he said.

However , Mr Ssempewo said despite paying nominal   ground rent for several years to Mr Nsubuga’s  estate  manager, Mr Eyaka Byaruhanga, in 2018, he  halted  the arrangement and instead asked all tenants to pay a lump sum to regularise their occupancy or he sells the entire estate.

Ms Margret Navuubya, a councillor representing Kiyuuni Sub-county, said they have tried to engage Mr Nsubuga  to allow tenants to continue paying nominal ground rent, but the latter refused .

Mr Nsubuga denied habouring any plans to evict sitting tenants.

“It is true the land belongs to our grandfather and it is a family land, but we have no intentions of evicting anybody. We want the government to consider buying it through the Land Fund so that people can settle peacefully as it has done in some regions outside Buganda,” he said on Saturday.

On February 28, President Museveni issued a directive prohibiting any eviction even if it is sanctioned by court without the “consent and direct observation of the district security committee chaired by the Resident District Commissioner and in direct consultation with the Minister of Lands.”

Land has continued to be a sticky issue in many districts in Central Uganda where wealthy people are evicting poor tenants from their ancestral land claiming they are illegal occupants.  It is on this basis that the government is pushing for land reforms, which they say are aimed at curing rampant evictions.

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