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Presidential visits can’t end evictions

“Lusanja eviction victims left in the cold as they await fate” was the New Vision headline for a report about hundreds of people that were recently violently evicted from land in Lusanja village in Wakiso/Kampala.

Mr Medard Kiconco, the proprietor of Lexman Industries, is the beneficiary of this eviction. He bought the land and processed a court order to have people on it evicted. The president, Gen Yoweri Museveni, visited the victims and ordered them back on the land.

Because their homes had been demolished, they are now sleeping in tents from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which are meant for natural disasters and are deposited with Office of the Prime Minister.

Almost within a space of days, Gen. Museveni was visiting another group of 200 people violently removed from a piece of land they were occupying at Kirangira village in Mukono. He again ordered the Office of the Prime Minister to give them beans and maize flour.

Dr Kizza Besigye also led a delegation of FDC and opposition leaders, including the Kampala city lord mayor to Lusanja to commiserate with the victims. Besigye and his team even offered them legal representation to defend their interest in this land in court.

Besigye and his team squeezed themselves into these short UNHCR tents when the Almighty opened the sky for a lunchtime downpour. This gave them the practical experience of what these people are going through. Mr Museveni asked Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, who heads a probe into land management, to investigate the Lusanja case and produce a report.

As all this is happening, the victims and their children are undergoing probably their worst experience. Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago posted on his social media platforms photos of two children who covered their heads with buveera when it started raining.

This is the life they will lead until their matter is sorted. In these two cases, police offered protection to court bailiffs who did the actual destruction of people’s homes. Police spokesperson Emilian Kayima explained that they were enforcing a court order.

I think these fresh evictions should help us to reignite the debate of our beleaguered land relations in Uganda. And this time we should suggest possible solutions. One of the things that struck me is that the president never moved with any of his lands ministers to Lusanja and I think Mukono. Yet these are the individuals with statutory authority to offer guidance.

Instead, he moved with Bamugemereire, who holds a temporary mandate, typical of firefighting style. On Monday morning, I rang the minister of Lands, Betty Amongi Akena, to inquire whether the Land Fund created by the 1998 Land Act is no solution enough.

In compliance with Article 237 of the Constitution, Parliament enacted the controversial Land Act 1998. It was amended in 2010 to include some more troubling provisions. And recently Museveni presented another bill to parliament, this time to change the constitution so that government can take possession of land for its projects before compensation.

The Land Fund, a creation of the 1998 Land Act, became operational in 2002. The process is that if you have land that is occupied, especially in Tooro, Buganda and Bunyoro, you walk into Uganda Land Commission, fill a form and ask government to buy your interest.

This is intended, according to Mr Museveni, to address historical injustices. The cumulative figure of those now willing to sell their occupied land to government is now Shs 1.7 trillion.

The Lands ministry requested for Shs 250 billion this financial year to help it clear this huge figure slowly but was given only Shs 24 billion. It reported to parliament that it will have a shortfall of Shs 200 billion. The most painful thing is that in the same budget, the president has allocated himself Shs 97 billion for donations.

This money he goes around throwing at people. Do you remember that he threw over Shs 10 billion to the people of Rukungiri so they don’t vote FDC in a by-election? This is the money that we need to begin purchasing land from landowners and then issue soft loans to the helpless people that occupy it.

It is the Land Fund that should visit Lusanja, and not the president because it has potential to offer practical solutions. Double ownership of land is real and has been fueled by poverty, population growth and the breakdown of the state. It needs structured solutions, and not presidential visits. Presidential visits can only offer a short-time relief, but not permanent solutions.

semugs@yahoo.com

The author is Kira Municipality MP and opposition chief whip in parliament.

Comments

+1 #1 Lakwena 2018-11-07 11:41
Hon Ssemujju, after Mr. M7 categorically told Ugandans on 26th January 2017, that: he is nobody's employee or servant; that he only fights for himself and belief; that if anybody thinks he/she gave him a job, he/she is deceiving him/herself; that thinking he could also help in return; etc; etc., is mistaken

I am seriously disturbed that the victims of Mr. M7 's maladministration especially land evictions (Lusanja and Kirangira) still go to listen to the man, expecting genuine help them.

The man is coldblooded like the proverbial graveside dancer, who mourns and dances more than the bereaved family members; to celebrate the demise of his/her victim.

The man does not care a straw. After commissioning a crime against Ugandans e.g., in Kasese and recently Yusuf kawooya, Mr. M7 ritualistically would either: hide behind silence or platitude (prompt visits at scenes of crime).

In other words, Ugandans still don't get!
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+1 #2 mungu 2018-11-07 11:49
The more time moves on the more Museveni remains the same. Dispossessing people of their property and livelihoods has been his potent weapons of war and governance from the Luweero days to date.

The victims of the latest evictions are lucky to be alive while those in Luweero, Northern and Eastern Uganda perished as their whole herds of cattle were looted. The visits and his pep talk to the victims or survivors is historical.
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+3 #3 Treva 2018-11-07 14:33
It is hard to understand what is going on with land anymore. The frequency of serious land disputes is a matter of grave concern.

The problem is fueled by the high cash value of land. Land promises all who can claim an interest a big pay day. This has increased the number of false claims.

You are wrong to blame the Minister or the President for this dangerous problem.

You are a parliamentarian. You are responsible for making laws which address these matters.

But you belong to the worst parliament in the history of parliaments. Instead of doing your job, you write comments like a bystander. Then you go to pick your salary and blame Museveni.

You have all betrayed your country!
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+3 #4 Ugthinker 2018-11-07 20:37
I'm painfully starting to accept that Ugandans deserve it! That's the position my wife has always held and I now agree with her.

Why can't Ugandans identify correctly the obvious source of these land evictions? There's a pattern of those evicting.

The impunity with which they do it and the protection they continue to enjoy from both courts and security agencies is telling and out for all to see!

WHY would people who had functional homesteads, whose properties stolen and destroyed, happily listen to a guy who comes with 6 tents and a some bags of maize flour???

WHEN WILL UGANDANS WAKE UP and if they choose not to, who should be blamed? Era tusaba government etuyambe?

BTW, in Lusanja Mr Museveni was seen ordering evictees not to destroy Kiconco's Iron sheets which he had used to board off their land! In Mukono, the president asked people who were wrongfully evicted from their land not to return untill the "courts" have established how they were evicted!
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+3 #5 Fuller 2018-11-08 00:13
The pretense-visits to the evicted are just that, pretense.

Despot-for-32-Years (I believe many in Uganda and abroad have noticed) has been on a whirlwind of appearances, it almost looks like he's chasing after time to accomplish things before time is up.

But his pretense shall not last forever.

The displaced living in tents is real, the Despot-for-32-Years does not care that it is real, that's why he rushes from place to place, makes canned speeches, orders for fake reports, as if Ugandans' lives are a dramatic production and he is a spectator.

His time is running short, and he knows it.

Despot-for-32-Years must leave office urgently (voluntarily) or be shown the door in handcuffs and leg chains. No third option on the table.
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+2 #6 Lakwena 2018-11-08 07:40
Quoting Ugthinker:
...
WHEN WILL UGANDANS WAKE UP and if they choose not to, who should be blamed? Era tusaba government etuyambe?

BTW, in Lusanja Mr Museveni was seen ordering evictees not to destroy Kiconco's Iron sheets which he had used to board off their land! In Mukono, the president asked people who were wrongfully evicted from their land not to return untill the "courts" have established how they were evicted!


Ugthinker, another WHY.

Mr. M7 & Co. could have started waging their diabolic war to oust Obote from Nyabusozi or Mbarara. WHY did they choose Luweero?

E.g., in 2005, when Gen Tito Lutwa deposed Obote, he could have started the insurrection right here in Kampala/Buganda. But he started it from Gulu.

Most Ugandans don't think. They only think of emere kya lero and Mr. M7 capitalizes on that.
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+2 #7 Lakwena 2018-11-08 08:01
In other words, the stateless and landless were spellbound by the vast, lush and fertile land in Luweero.

Starting with Gen Saleh and Mr. M7 himself; how many square miles of land do the Luweero bandits now own, and have "electric" fenced them off?

You can imagine, before he grabbed power in Rwanda, even Gen Kagame a refugee, had grabbed land.

These lands, most of the owners are now 32 years 6 feet under in unmarked or mass graves; while their children and grandchildren are now landless riding boda unto death, with nowhere to return to and/or be buried.

Eish!
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+1 #8 kabayekka 2018-11-08 16:34
My MP in the State of Buganda, why are you afraid to put my comment about your article. You are serving a government that has no African land.

"Indeed Uganda Presidential visits are not going to solve the land problems especially for the State of Buganda. Buganda came to an international historic agreement around 1900 to have its territory annexed by its citizens in equal measure by the Ganda citizenship of Christianity, Traditionalist and Muslim. Uganda Central Government has no land on the various territories of Uganda."
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0 #9 Jama 2018-11-11 13:18
Once again the fire lighter claiming to be the fire fighter.

This kiconco man, could be the tree hiding a forest.

Any future responsible gorvnment,should investigate their source of income and others like him,who closer to this regime.
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