RWAMIRAMA VOWS TO DIE WITH MAFIA TARGETING GOV’T LAND
By Mulengera Reporters
Livestock sub sector Minister Bright Rwamirama has vowed to “die” with mafia actors menacingly looking at and targeting government land scattered at the different NAGRIC stock farms across Uganda.
The farms stretch several square miles of land and are scattered across the country including Njeru Municipality which is one of the rapidly urbanizing parts of Uganda. The others are in Mbarara, Kiruhura, Kamuli (Kasolwe), Kayunga (Lusenke farm), Pader (Aswa ranch), Apac (Maruzi) and Bulambuli among other places.
Taking advantage of the inept and indifferent leadership at NAGRIC, a government entity charged with using these ranches to spearhead preservation and multiplication of indigenous livestock breeds and genes, people Rwamirama said are powerful and politically well connected more than even himself (a close relative to the President) have over time been grabbing the land and titling it in their own names.
Vowing to identify all of them and have their fraudulent land titles cancelled and perpetrators prosecuted through the IGG, Rwamirama (boasting of 11 years of experience working with MAAIF) said he will need support of everybody namely NAGRIC officials, MAAIF technocrats like relevant Director Juliet Sentumbwe and most importantly the local leaders in the communities surrounding the said NAGRIC farms.
“We are counting on you to successfully defend these government farms for posterity and you have a duty to get involved in this hard fight because these farms don’t belong to Rwamirama or even Dr. Charles Lagul (the NAGRIC ED). They are yours first and foremost because government put them in place for the primary benefit of the surrounding communities,” he asserted.
CONTEXTUALIZING THE STORY
Rwamirama was speaking at Njeru Stock farm near Jinja which sits on hundreds of acres of prime land just on the outskirts of Jinja town. He was here to join NAGRIC’s very transformative ED Dr. Charles Lagul to take the new board members around the government farms as part of their induction program.
The rigorous tour, lasting three days, is meant to take the new Board members to Lusenke in Kayunga, Kamuli’s Kasolwe Stock farm, the one in Bulambuli, Aswa in Pader and Maruzi Stock farm in Apac district where the indefatigable Lagul has single-handedly been battling to fight off Mafia grabbers targeting the land. The tour began on Tuesday and ends on Thursday when board members, travelling with a team of experienced journalists, will be returning to Kampala.
While commending Lagul for his patriotic leadership so far, Rwamirama observed that much of the land-grabbing had resulted from the ineptness of past NAGRIC leadership that slumbered allowing the farms to become wastelands. He said the sorry state in which Lagul’s predecessors allowed the farms to decend into permitted land grabbers to clandestinely sneak in and falsify documents to the detriment of the GoU whose repossession interest he vowed to defend to his last breath.
In a bid to show the Dr. Johnson Nkuuhe-led Board that he knows alot about the history of land grabbing at the government farms, Rwamirama (speaking at the Lusenke farm meeting Tuesday morning) revealed that actually the total government acreage at the Kayunga Lusenke farm was 10 square miles and not just 7 square miles as the farm manager had reported. He narrated the difficult battle he endured years ago to protect the Lusenke farm land.
DETAILING THE FIGHT
That, on realizing the land was merely wasting away yet its fertile and located so near the Capital Kampala, President Museveni donated 3 square miles to the association of Uganda Beef Producers to boost their private-oriented enterprenuesrhip. But unknown to the well-intentioned Museveni, Rwamirama revealed, the association membership and leadership were a very unserious lot and had their own ill motives.
Rwamirama narrated that instead of using the land to boost beef production in the name of the association as the President intended, the beef producers plotted to grab and personalize ownership not only of the three square miles but the whole of the land including the other 7 square miles.
Rwamirama, who was initially a member of the same association, said that when he became Minister of State for livestock, the first thing he did was to contact the senior Minister of Lands who dispatched his Deputy Kasirivu Atwooki with whom he drove to Lusenke.
Rwamirama said that much as the fraudsters had already started altering paper work using crooks in the Lands Ministry, on the ground they found the place, which the colonialists established in the 1950s and stocked with a lot of cattle, had grown into thickets. The intending land grabbers got wind of his visit and at night moved in and dumped lots of cattle on the land to create the impression that the beef producers association was in possession of the land as a way of defeating his pacification efforts aimed at redeeming the land back to GoU.
That he later on realized these had become proxies of some powerful officials whose names he said he was fearing to disclose. He says, besides prompting Dr. Daniel Semambo, who was then the ED NAGRIC, to ensure security was deployed to throw out the cattle fraudsters had poured on the land, he drove to the office of one of the powerful people who were behind the impending grabbing of the entire 10 square miles.
He recalls the conversation they had in the office wasn’t an easy one but managed to get the big official back off the 7 square miles while vowing not to surrender the other 3. “We insisted and fought on until all their fake land titles were cancelled. They tried to register the same land in the names of some shadowy company but I defeated them because I knew much more about this land and how the President’s offer didn’t take effect,” Rwamirama told an attentive audience at Lusenke which comprised of scribes, NAGRIC officials and farmers from the surrounding villages.
His revelation that the Lusenke land was actually 10 and not just 7 square miles excited and emboldened board members who vowed to do all in their power to adequately support Dr. Lagul in his efforts to 100% recover all the government land at the various government farms. Rwamirana said he even knows the physical location of the other 3 square miles.
In his speech, the farm manager reported about Engineer Bwanga (formerly a UNRA big man) who is still insisting on being the owner of 1 square mile which NAGRIC currently has no possession of.
That Bwanga, an eminent son of the nearby Busoga, had initially taken over the entire 7 but the Manager has gradually been fighting to recover it in bits. Saying he won’t fear anybody especially when he is doing the right thing, Rwamirama vowed to crush Engineer Bwanga by ensuring his title is cancelled and himself gets criminally prosecuted. “That one, don’t worry. I will handle and whatever comes our way, let’s fight together as a team because I’m here to assure that if it’s falling as a result of being defeated by this land-grabbing cartel, we shall fall together,” a fast-talking Rwamirama assured the attentively-listening board members.
He said as long as the guys they are fighting off are the wealthy few, the President will always be on their (NAGRIC) side unlike in cases where it’s the majority peasants who have taken advantage of the vacuum, resulting from the NAGRIC ineptness, to enmassely occupy the land. “Otherwise these so-called powerful people you fear very much are actually the easiest to argue against and defeat before the President unlike where encroachers are the typical peasants in the communities surrounding the farms,” Rwamirama explained.
Rwamirama also blamed the problem on Lagul’s predecessors who failed to keep the land under active use and occupation. He demanded that the new board supports Lagul to ensure all the NAGRIC land is 100% put under full activity to deny encroachers a chance to grab even an inch.
He said the problem isn’t only at Lusenke in Kayunga district because even elsewhere, wealthy private individuals remain determined to hide under Presidential directives to dubiously grab government land to the detriment of preservation and multiplication programs by NAGRIC. He demanded tough scrutiny into the presidential directives which he said were prone to being manipulated by private investors who just move into the farms and grab whatever part they want claiming to be executing the President’s directives.
Rwamirama urged the board members to assert themselves against such beneficiaries who are determined to grab and use government land for purposes totally contrary to the President’s well articulated intention which is to use the private sector to consolidate livestock breeding programs.
“Yes you have the directive from the President but the Board remains in charge. It’s them to show you where to do your breeding from because they know the priorities of NAGRIC which is the primary owner of the land,” argued Rwamirama whose outspokenness on the same issue in the past prompted government to decree that every government MDA must have it’s land titled in it’s name. “Why would you put up a hotel or any other permanent structure on government land which was leased to you for something totally different? Why depart from clear leasing conditions to which you signed? Isn’t that a ploy aimed at making it hard for government to reposes it’s land when time comes?”
Rwamirama also run through the history of the NAGRIC farms and said it would be shameful for the NRM government, which revived the same following years of extreme neglect during Amin and Obote II, to just look on when private investors grab the same farms under the cover of Presidential directives which he said often get distorted. Businessmen Barnabas Taremwa and Sembabule’s Kamihingo, in whose names some of the NAGRIC land in Western Uganda and Aswa has been sub leased for grazing purposes, are some of the private investors in whose favor some of the NAGRIC land has been leased out as directed by the President.
It wasn’t readily clear if any of the Rwamirama furious utterances were directed to any of these two big name private sector actors.
Rwamirama said, unlike many fellow politicians, he has the moral authority to stand up to the intending grabbers of the NAGRIC land because he has incorruptedly led the sector for 11 years yet he has never grabbed even an acre for himself.
At Njeru Stock farm where Gen Kahinda Otafiire has controversially been claiming part of the land, the community members, led by Councilor Robert Nsubuga, cheerfully welcomed Rwamirama arguing that returning him to the livestock sub sector was the best decision the President ever made. They reported to him about the indifference with which the Njeru DPC and some UPDF officers were continuing to look on as more of the Njeru Stock farm land gets grabbed by encroachers who are mostly rich, powerful and politically well connected.
There was widespread anger and condemnation against Njeru DPC who skipped the meeting and contemptuously sent his OC CIID Opio to represent him. Some where heard openly grumbling as to why DIGP Sabiiti doesn’t crack the whip on such a very disrespectful DPC.
I WILL BE BACK
Rwamirana assured the community leaders that he would return with the leadership of NAGRIC, NAADS and NARO to devise the most comprehensive way on how to respond to the political economy questions that were raised by the community. As they praised him, the local leaders recalled some of livestock support they used to get from Njeru farm when he was still livestock Minister.
Rwamirana also publicly grilled UPDF officers present on why they have been refusing to support efforts by the NAGRIC management to fight off armed encroachers who have been raiding and destroying/looting property at the farm. They responded that their hands have always been constrained because of the contradictory letters they have been getting from Gen Musanyufu of the Defense headquarters.
Rwamirana said those letters had been based on the very inaccurate information the defense headquarters would be having. He said he will get audience with CDF Gen David Muhoozi and give him the correct facts resulting into “appropriate letters” being written to enable the army men on the ground to support NAGRIC better.
THE NEW BOARD
The new board members condemned the previous NAGRIC administrations for causing so much harm and commended Lagul for registering so much transformation and revamp in such a short time. The speeches made by different farm managers made the board members to realize the need to act urgently to address extreme manpower needs to enable the NAGRIC management operate more efficiently.
Barely two months in office, the new board members include Dr. Johnson Nkuuhe, Dr. Juliet Sentumbwe of MAAIF, Ben Anyama, Eng Robert Sengonzi, Dr Herman Sekiwunga, Paul Sekyewa, ex-MP Loyce Bwambale Biira, Richard Akule, Dr. Kabrah Kibeddi, Dr. James Oluka and Teddy Alako the young lady representing the Finance Ministry. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 or email us at email@example.com).