Nakasongola petitions govt over illegal land evictions 

Nakasongola chairperson Sam Kigula inspects land at Kyalubanga Forest Reserve that is to be degazetted for settlement in May. All ministry zonal land offices are now open. PHOTO / DAN WANDERA.

What you need to know:

  • The Land (Amendment) Act 2010 provides grounds under which lawful and bona fide land occupants can be evicted, but authorities in Nakasongola claim many landlords ignore such provisions.
  • In a June 30 letter, the district leaders have asked the Lands minister, Ms Judith Nabakooba, to take keen interest in the land conflicts.

More than 100 households facing eviction in Nakasongola District have petitioned government, Daily Monitor has established.
Locals say the evictions are being conducted in total disregard of the law.

The Land (Amendment) Act 2010 provides grounds under which lawful and bona fide land occupants can be evicted, but authorities in Nakasongola claim many landlords ignore such provisions.

In a June 30 letter, the district leaders have asked the Lands minister, Ms Judith Nabakooba, to take keen interest in the land conflicts.

“…this defeats the original purpose of the Land Act and paints a negative image on the part of government that is the custodian of the Law,” a letter signed by Mr Rogers Sande Bwanga, the Nakasongola District council speaker, reads in part.

The disputed land is on Block 173, Plots 12, 17, 18 and 19 at Kiswerwa Village in Kalongo Sub-county.  
“For the case of Block 173, Plot 18 measuring approximately 110.581 hectares, the registered proprietor under MMACKS investments, Ms Jessica Kashumba, who acquired the land in 2017, refused the nominal ground rates (Busuulu) from the tenants and decided to fence off homes and gardens of the tenants,” the letter adds.

Mr Sam Kigula, the Nakasongola chairperson, said more than 85 per cent of the land in the district is under the Mailo Land Tenure System where absentee landlords continue to undermine the existing land laws to intimidate the bibanja holders.  “We are surprised that a section of the judicial officials in courts of law are being used to undermine the rights of the bibanja holders in Nakasongola.

“We need special land courts to handle the land cases. We also appeal to government to expedite the Land Fund with interest in areas that have many people suffering,” he said.
Mr Habibu Bagonza, one of the affected tenants on Block 173, Plot 18, said their landlord has since advised them to find an alternative land.

“We are surprised that our landlord have decided to fence off plots where we have our respective families. The landlord insists that the nominal ground rate is very little. We do not know how much ground rate he wants,” he said.
Mr Stanley Ndibadawa, another victim of the pending eviction, said: 

“Surprisingly, the landlord tells us he will not evict us, but wants us to stay in the fenced areas. We have failed to understand the intention of destroying our crops.” 

Mr Peter Bigumirwa, the Kiswerwa Village chairperson, said the land dispute dates back to 2018 when the residents started getting information about planned evictions.

“Many of these residents have been on this land for more than 38 years.  Government should fight for our rights,” he said.

Nakasongola County MP Noah Mutebi said: “In 2018, we met the landlords together with a section of the affected residents. The landlord was willing to sell the land to the tenants and enter further negotiations. It is unfortunate that the tenants have now had their respective land fenced off.” 
Ms Kashumba declined to comment on the matter.

Land law
According to the Land Amendment Act 2010, tenants can resist eviction, especially if they have been paying the annual nominal ground rent.  The law allows the tenants to either pay annual nominal ground rent (busuulu) fixed by the minister or by their district land boards.Landlords also need a court order to evict tenants.

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