By Mulengera Reporter
‘The grass is always greener the other side’ is a popular English proverb that is still relevant in Uganda where citizens bash government over ‘poor land management,’ yet other people, such as experts from South Africa are heaping praises on the east African country’s ‘best practices.’
A few years ago, cases of land related conflicts and scandals ranging from double or triple allocation, evictions, fraudulent acquisition of titles by powerful individuals in government, security and the private sector, among others, prompted President Yoweri Museveni to institute a Commission of Inquiry to look into the vices and come out with recommendations.
Led by Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, the Commission recently concluded its assignment and Ugandans are anxiously waiting to see when the recommendations therein will be implemented.
That notwithstanding, a team of 17 officials led by South Africa’s Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reforms Mcebisi Skwatsha, who recently concluded their study tour in Uganda, has lauded the country’s land management and tenure systems.
Shortly after visiting the Ministerial Zonal Office (for Busoga) headquartered in Jinja where the South Africans interacted with officials, Skwatsha told Mulengera News, Uganda’s land management systems were remarkable.
“We are benchmarking on the good practices here, and so far, we all are impressed with the way Uganda manages its systems amidst many unique tenures in such a way that brings harmony and development,” the visiting South African Minister commended.
The team was also interested in drawing lessons from traditional administration systems in Buganda Kingdom and how they have co-existed along the decentralization model embraced by the country about two decades ago.
On similar challenges faced by both nations, the Minister observed that Uganda has her share of an ugly past just like South Africa, a country struggling to heal from the wounds inflicted on the population under Apartheid.
“All I can say is that both countries are in transition and coupled with the ever-rising population and socio-economic changes, one expects plenty of land-related conflicts,” said Skwatsha.
The team revealed it would recommend Uganda’s land systems for implementation in South Africa because of their success stories that have made them a point of reference by nearly all African countries.
The Commissioner in charge of Surveys and Mapping at the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development (MoLHUD), Wilson Ebunyu Ogaro, who guided the visitors to various places said the team’s commendation was as inspiring as it was gladdening.
“As a ministry, we are not only happy but humbled that the little efforts we are putting in place daily are being appreciated beyond our borders; this motivates us a lot,” said Ogaro.
Ivan Twinobusingye, an expert in the ICT Department at MoLHUD, explained that the ministry created the National Land Information Centre (NLIC) to tackle big volumes of land searches within half an hour unlike in the past when it could take investors or private individuals months.
“Because of the improved NLIC, now issues of acquiring titles or transfers of titles are handled within only 30 minutes and we get only isolated cases of forgeries which are easily corrected,” said Twinobusingye.
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