MINISTER MAYANJA’S GUNS NOW TURNED ON DISTRICT LAND BODS
By Mulengera Reporters
In his efforts to streamline land management in Uganda, State Minister for Lands Dr. Sam Mayanja is seemingly prepared to go after whoever he perceives as being an obstacle to the efficiency he desires to see.
From Buganda Kingdom, rogue-minded RCDs and Police Commanders to landlords who he accuses of conniving against poor Bibanja holders, Mayanja believes now is the time to commence doing something about Districts, Municipality and Cities’ Land Boards which he accuses of corruption and deliberate inefficiencies.
Dr. Mayanja, who is an eminent legal practitioner and researcher with a bias on land matters and related historical injustices, eloquently articulates and makes out his case against the rampaging and non-compliant Land Boards officials in the following submission prepared by himself (in total, Uganda has more than 100 such powerful Land Boards across the country):
It is mandatory for District Land Boards to account to the District Council and consequently to the people of Uganda, how they handled matters of land in the District for the previous year. Non accountability amounts to misbehavior, misconduct or incompetence and is a ground to remove a member of the Board from office by the District Council on the recommendation of the District Executive Committee under section 58 (2) (b) and (c) of the Land Act.
There is no way the Ministry of Land Housing and Urban Development can implement its monitoring and valuation function in regards to land management in the Country without these annual reports being submitted by the District Land Board.
The annual reports must contain, among other things, a summary of all transactions undertaken by a District Land Board in the year, summary of all Board sittings, list of achievements and challenges faced by the Board and proposed recommendations. District Land Boards are a creature of the constitution whose functions are setup both in the constitution itself and the Land Act. These functions are among other things to “to hold and allocate land in the District which is not owned by any person or authority.”
This means that land owned by government or bibanja holders is not available for District Land Board to allocate. Also not available for allocation by the Boards is land covered under article 237 (2) (b) of the constitution and section 44 (1) of the Land Act. This land includes land which is a protected nature lake, rivers, ground water, natural ponds, natural streams, wetlands, forest reserves, national parks and any other land reserved for ecological and touristic purposes.
Should a District Land Board enter into or undertakes or concludes any transaction or allocates land mentioned above, that transaction is void by virtue of section 59 (1a) of the Land Act, as amended. The Land Act gives Commissioner Land Registration under section 91 to cancel a land title issued to such a land without referring the matter to a Court or District land Tribunal.
The District land Board is mandated to exercise the role of lessor and to exercise the powers of a controlling authority in respect of leases granted out of public land then controlled under the repealed 1969 Public Land Act. In this regard a District Land Board is obligated to honour all the conditions and covenants in the existing leases including those implied under the repealed Public Land Act 1969.
In the exercise of its duties a District Land Boards must abide by the Guidelines on the Administration of the land under the Land Act, Cap 227 issued on 12th July 2005. Under those guidelines, a District Land Board in exercising the powers of a lessor is prohibited from automatically re-entering a lessee’ land and provides that renewal and extension of leases on initial and full term for all citizens is automatic.
The guidelines also makes it clear that where a lease on full term expires and the former lessee applies for renewal of the lease, the District shall charge a premium of 10% of the unimproved value of the land. When a lease shall be renewed for a shorter term, the lessee shall pay the proportionate premium. Where there is a variation of lease regarding user, premium and ground rent will be determined to reflect the changes.
It is important for all to be aware that article 237 (5) of the constitution allows any Ugandan citizen who had been granted a lease out of public land to convert it into freehold in accordance with the law setup by Parliament. This Law was passed by Parliament under section 28 (1) of the Land Act cap. 227 and District land Board are obliged to do the conversion to freehold if a citizen of Uganda applies.
All these issues and the performance of the District Land Boards in fulfilment of the Law are covered under the annual reports which the District Land Boards must issue annually in compliance with section 60 (3) of the Land Act.
All the confusion of District Land Boards allocating public land, land with bibanja holding, protected forests, wetlands and wildlife areas, re-entering citizens’ leases which have expired when they are not supposed, refusing to extend leases when this is automatic for all citizens, exacting lease premiums beyond the 10% of the unimproved value of the land etc. etc., are all as a result of defiance of section 60 (3) by refusing to account, despite repeated remainders by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
District Land Boards which have failed to account as required by law, have no legitimacy to continue in office for the succeeding year. In effect the District Executive Committees and District Councils must by 1st January 2023 disband all District Land Boards which have not submitted accountability and insure that new ones are put in place. Ugandans are a decent people, they deserve accountability from those chosen to manage their most important asset-Land. (For comments on this story, get back to us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734 & 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).