What you need to know:
- President Museveni is said to have purchased in the land in 1997
Locals in Sembabule District have come under criticism for grabbing part of a 200-acre piece of land owned by President Museveni.
Mr Caleb Tukeikiriza, the Sembabule Resident District Commissioner, said some of the people who grabbed Mr Museveni’s land started as tenants, but have since constructed permanent buildings.
“We have instituted a four-member committee to investigate those who grabbed part of the land,” he said, adding: “All activities and developments on the land have been halted until further notice.”
Mr Tukeikiriza said the committee chaired by Mr William Rudunyonyoli is tasked to carry out fresh boundary opening, register all sitting tenants and submit a report to the district security committee in two months.
Mr Rudunyonyoli is one of the witnesses who signed the President’s agreement during the purchase of the land in 1997.
Other committee members include Mr Alfred Nunu, the chairperson of Kyarutageija Village, Mr Asuman Mwanje, the chairperson of Kawanda Sub-county, and Mr Faustine Ntambara, a resident.
A source that preferred anonymity told Daily Monitor that one of the individuals who encroached on the land first hired five acres for five years, but reportedly forged the agreement to read 35 years.
“ All the grabbers start like people looking for land for cultivation, but after settling for some time, they connive with unscrupulous people in the lands office at the district to process illegal documents,” Ms Jolly Kasande, a woman councillor representing Migwala in Sembabule Town Council, said.
Ms Kasande said part of the land has been leased to people to grow crops, which exposes it to land grabbers.
Of the 122 acres remaining, 78 acres have been rented out to local farmers with each acre fetching Shs100,000 per planting season, which usually lasts four months.
Mr Leonard Nkooba and Mr Richard Mwesigye, who hired 30 acres of the land, said halting activities on the land will make them register losses.
“We ask the President through the RDC to allow us to continue using the land as investigations kick start because the planting season is on and we borrowed money from the bank,” Mr Mwesigye said. Mr Nkooba said he has so far paid Shs1.3m to Lutunku Community Polytechnic to allow him use a section of the land for farming and is yet to clear a balance of Shs1.7m.
The principal of Lutunku Community Polytechnic, Mr Serapio Owukunda, denied reports that they are selling the donated land.
“We simply hire part of our land to generate some money to run the school,” he said.
Records show that Mr Museveni bought the land in 1997 from Mr Faustine Ntambara and donated it to the community of Lutunku in Kawanda Sub-county, Sembabule District, where Lutunku Community Polytechnic, a technical Institute was constructed.
Part of the land is on Block 176, Plot 4, 6 and 46 in Lutunku Parish while another is on Block 83, Plot 23 in Sembabule Town Council.
It is on the same land that the President constructed Kaguta Primary School.
The Ministry of Education in partnership with Islamic Development Bank is also planning to construct structures that include BTVET training facilities, laboratories, and dormitories on the land.
Quest for land
Sembabule is one of the districts in central Uganda with vast land occupied by mostly cattle keepers. However, some parts of the district such as Mateete and Mabindo have fertile soils, which have aided farming on a larger scale. The recent tarmacking of the main road connecting to Masaka and Gomba districts has attracted many people looking for land for cultivation.
Due to increasing demand for land, hundreds of squatters have encroached on government ranches. Other unscrupulous individuals have also claimed plots of land on the five square miles where Bigo bya Mugenyi, a historical cultural site of the famous Chwezi Dynasty, is located in Ntuusi Sub-county.
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