By Our Reporters
Commenced on 18th April 2017, Buganda Kingdom’s Kyapa mu Ngalo (mass land titling) campaign finally came to an end last Friday with a glamorous ceremony the kingdom’s land management agency Buganda Land Board (BLB) organized in Bulange gardens. During the Bulange ceremony (graced by Deputy Katikkiro Emmanuel Sendawula, Lands Minister Martin Kasekende, Education Minister Nankindu Kavuma, Prince Wassajja and BLB CEO Kyewalabye Male among other dignitaries), over 300 tenants on Kabaka’s land received land titles (kyapa) graduating them from mere Bibanja holders to occupants of titled land-something Kasekende and Male explained comes with many additional benefits including automatic lease renewal the day it expires. Among them was Sarah Nkonge who is the influential private secretary to the President in charge of land matters in State House. On the same list of the new lessees on Kabaka’s land is the Equity Bank and the famous Aponye Uganda Ltd just to mention a few of the big name beneficiaries of Kyapa Mu Ngalo campaign one of whose harshest critics benefited too by secretly taking up four titles for his different pieces of land. “He had publicly been condemning and demonizing Kyapa Mu Ngalo campaign but yet he quietly came to pick his titles having benefited from the same. He was brought to my office because my staff said you come and say hallo to the CEO. He said I repent my sins and I now know the truth. That was okay but he wasn’t willing to go back to the radio and unpack the lies he had told about Kyapa Mu Ngalo,” Kyewalabye Male said in a bid to explain how malicious propaganda and politicization were among the key challenges BLB had to overcome to deliver the campaign’s intended objective which was strengthening Bibanja holders’ tenancy and tenure on Kabaka’s land. Joseph Kimbowa, a Communications Officer at BLB, explained that on being launched by the Katikkiro in April 2017, the campaign was initially meant to last for 6 months (up to October 2017) but was extended because of the enthusiasm with which Kabaka’s people embraced it. As of that time, more than 21,000 tenants had registered and had their land surveyed and yet the number only kept growing. A decision was taken to extend the campaign to 31st December 2018 paving way for the last Friday crowing ceremony. The generous extension of the Kyapa Mu Ngalo period complimented the festive mood Kabaka’s people were in as they reflected on Mutebi’s 25 years on the throne as Kabaka of Buganda. Of the 1000s who registered their tenancy and applied to BLB to have their land titled, more than 1,000 titles had so far been released as of last Friday. BLB CEO Male commended partners like the banks, the lands ministry in the central government and the Mengo local government structure (Abami ba Kabaka) whose active participation and support made the campaign succeed.
Last Friday’s more than 300 titles was remarkable in that it was the first time so many titles were being given out at once. Male and his boss Eng Martin Kasekende said BLB has capacity to give out much more in one go but they are always let down by the constraints in the Lands Ministry office which suffers acute manpower scarcities slowing down the speed at which BLB-seconded titles can be produced. They both prayed for adequate staffing at the Ministry as that would lead to increased efficiency at BLB. Male promised to give out more titles to Kabaka’s people who applied for them under Kyapa Mu Ngalo emphasizing “we shall be calling respective owners to pick as we get them from the Ministry of lands of the Central government.” Male also decried the manner in which President Museveni’s anti-corruption Tsar Col Edith Nakalema’s men raided Wakiso land office sometime last month. He said on that day, many clients following up on their titles (including BLB clients) suffered the inconvenience of having their paper work confiscated and being detained for the whole day as the Nakalema team members mistook them for the wrong people they were looking for. “The unit’s objectives to curb corruption in land management are noble and it’s something we welcome but let such operations be done better next time,” Male counseled. He thanked stakeholders and partners like PostBank, Action Aid, Stanbic Bank, Centenary Bank, Housing Finance Bank, Transparency International and Uganda Consortium on Corporate Accountability for supplementing BLB’s efforts to intensify sensitization on land matters and thereby demystifying unfounded phobia the population tends to have on land. Male said as a result of the Nakalema raid, some of the experienced staff in the Wakiso land office were removed from work and replaced with new ones who are too timid to expeditiously serve clients seeking services from there. “All this is slowing down the pace at which we as BLB can produce titles for our clients which isn’t good for our efficiency as an organization,” said Male. He also thanked Prince David Wassajja and other Kabaka personal attorneys who closely work with BLB supervising its work. Saying Kyaddondo had performed very well during the Kyapa Mu Ngalo campaign, Male singled out Kaggo (County Head) immensely thanking him for his personal support.
Lands Minister Martin Kasekende thanked BLB for streamlining and deepening transparency in land management systems saying straightening land relations is one of the five pillars (ensonga semasonga) on which forward-looking Katikkiro Peter Mayiga opted to base his leadership. Since Mayiga’s ascendance, Kasekende revealed, more than 130,000 people have registered their tenancy with BLB. Of these, 21,000 went on to apply to have their land surveyed and subsequently titled. Kasekende, who directly supervises BLB, said voluntary surveying and titling will continue even after the ending of the Kyapa Mu Ngalo campaign. “Since 1994, BLB has been giving out lease titles on Kabaka’s land just like other land-owning institutions like ULC, KCCA and the Church do,” Kasekende told an attentive audience urging them to popularize the benefits of titling one’s land to other tenants on Kabaka’s land who are yet to title theirs. He then summarized titling benefits to include: evidencing ownership, increasing value of one’s land, eliminating boundary conflicts, protection against arbitrary eviction, title being usable for purposes of collateral, easing relations with utility companies like UMEME and NWSC and being able to create other interests (e.g. through condominium titles) in an easily verifiable way. He also said when there is need to be appropriately compensated in case of a public project passing through one’s dwelling, he who has BLB’ lease title will naturally be paid higher compensation than one who doesn’t have title. He also said it eases efforts to obtain approved building plans from KCCA and other local authorities since Section 3 of the Physical Planning Act (2010) makes the whole country a planning area meaning to lawfully construct a house anywhere in Uganda, one needs an approved building plan. Thanking the central government for cooperating well with Buganda kingdom (since Mayiga became Katikkiro), Eng Kasekende said much more progress would be made by BLB in its efforts to improve management of Kabaka’s land if it weren’t for the constraints resulting from some hostile local government leaders in some of the districts who (despite the 2013 Ebyaffe return agreement) are still reluctant to surrender Kabaka’s properties to BLB. He hoped such hurdles will be overcome through increased interaction and engagement between Mengo and leaders of those districts notwithstanding the problem of inadequate manpower in Buganda Land Board. Emmanuel Sendawula, who represented his boss Mayiga, urged BLB not to relax but build on the Kyapa Mu Ngalo momentum to intensify sensitization of Kabaka’s people so that many of them embrace registration and titling. He said whereas mass registration and titling was a Kabaka directive, the speed at which BLB implements this has had to depend on the manpower-constrained lands ministry which solely has the mandate of issuing titles. He condemned detractors who like politicizing BLB work and generally land matters in Buganda. Amb Sendawula also had no kind words for judicial officers who deliberately sit on cases and prolong people’s suffering by delaying decisions on land disputes brought before them. For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755.