LAND EVICTIONS: MINISTER SAM MAYANJA LEAVES MUBENDE BIBANJA HOLDERS CELEBRATING, EX-MP SIMEO NSUBUGA IN TROUBLE
By Mulengera Reporters
State Minister for Lands Dr. Sam Mayanja has left smiles on the faces of evicted bibanja holders in at least five villages of Mubende District and the rest of Uganda after directing that they should be reinstated on their pieces of land.
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The hands-on Minister was recently in Buwekula County where he met residents and local leaders from at least five villages of Kiyuni, Kijumba, Madudu, Butolo and Nakasozi who had complained about rampant cases of land evictions by landlords. During the meeting, locals accused former Kassanda South MP Simeo Nsubuga and some companies of chasing them from their bibanja. They also told the Minister that land owners force them to pay ‘busuulu,’ which payment the minister called ‘broad day theft.’
Pascal Mbabazi, the Buwekula County MP, saluted Minister Mayanja for welcoming Ugandans with land problems in his office, and for listening to these challenges and doing all he can to resolve the challenges at hand.
Mbabazi noted that a number of people had been detained while a few others had lost their lives due to land wrangles. He predicted that the situation would further deteriorate if the leaders do not rise to the occasion and deal with the issue of illegal land evictions and blatant grabbing. He confessed that he had been overwhelmed by land wrangles and that engagements to try and resolve these were eating into the time he should be using to execute his other duties as an MP.
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The legislator further told Mayanja that many landlords in Buwekula were ready and willing to sell their land to government so that they can use the money from the sales to engage in other development projects. He went on to say that these landlords were eagerly waiting for the Land Fund cash and were willing to present the copies of their land titles for the transactions with government to begin. The politician said he would have bought the land himself if he had the required money. In response, Minister Mayanja asked these landlords to register with the RDC so that their request can be handled.
For her part, Rosemary Byabashaija, the Mubende RDC, described Minister Mayanja as a ‘doctor’ whose method of work will cure the land issues in Mubende District where she has been serving for only two months. RDC Byabashaija told Mayanja that on assuming her role in the district, she had found a huge backlog of land cases, and that these wrangles formed the biggest chunk of the cases filed in the RDC’s office. That some people had been arrested over alleged criminal trespass and detained for up to three years yet they had lived on the land in question for decades. That even people aged over 70 were accused of trespassing on the pieces of land supposedly belonging to people who had newly come to these villages.
“The unfairness in these cases is too much. I have a huge war to fight but I am happy that when you came you first visited my office and you can realize that the issues on ground are similar to what I told you about,” said Byabashaija.
She accused wealthy, powerful and well-connected individuals of being behind land grabbing and wrangles in the district. She swore that she was not ready to sit and watch the wananchi suffering at the hands of wealthy but dishonest people keen on chasing poor citizens from their pieces of land.
Minister Mayanja assured the locals that the 1995 Constitution made it clear that bibanja holders have security of occupancy, and that President Museveni has over the years issued directives making it mandatory for all evictions to be approved by the office of the RDC in consultation with the Minister of Lands. He declared that “any kibanja holder evicted anywhere in Uganda must go back to his or her kibanja.”
He said he was shocked to hear the name of former MP Nsubuga being mentioned in the land wrangles in Mubende. He directed that all the necessary evidence against the ex-MP be gathered and taken to the Resident District Commissioner so that the former legislator can be arrested and prosecuted in court.
He also reiterated that land boards should not issue leases on public land which is occupied by people. The Minister further announced that leases and titles issued on pieces and chunks of public land that are occupied by bibanja holders are null and void. He asked the concerned leaders to collect such leases and titles so that he can cancel them in line with the provisions of the Land Act. (For comments on this story, get back to us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734 & 0200900416 or email us at email@example.com).