Civil Society Decries Continuous Land Evictions in the Uganda
Civil Society Decries Continuous Land Evictions in the Uganda
Published: April 23, 2012
A coalition of civil society organization has decried the continuous
land evictions across the country that has subsequently caused
violation of fundamental rights. Under the Food Rights Alliance, activists today embarked on a campaign that intends to the indiscriminate land evictions by individuals, private and public entities that have left many Ugandans landless.
The National coordinator Food Rights Alliance Agnes Kirabo says that
despite the recent amendment of the Land Act, families have been
evicted from land by relatives, Investors and government in the name
of development which has subjected the vulnerable children and women
to untold suffering. Kirabo reiterated that the campaign that is geared towards initiating public debate on land rights was prompted by the adverse consequences of
evicting families without giving them alternative land since land is
the source of livelihood for all. The Vice Chairperson of the Food Rights Alliance Bridget Mugambe suggests that land should not be considered as an incentive for
investors saying this will put many Ugandans at risk of being evicted
from land under guise of investment. The National Land campaign that will be engaging academia, policy makers, and religious organizations aims at the land tenure governance in Uganda supports food security, Poverty reduction and environmental protection.
It is the image of land which has been vacated by former occupants.
The photo above clearly shows graves where bodies have bee exhumed and re-located. These developments are common today as land use changes.
The Plant which is planted in some parts of Uganda to demarcate the boundaries of land.
You can imagine the rate at which developers put up houses in Uganda. Above are 5 houses which are all about to be completed in the same locality. By the time of elections, these houses were not yet in place, however, shortly after elections the construction took off and is still on going. This type of development in many instances leaves people worried, as poverty forces many to sell off land and eventually, they are thrown into real poverty.
While land grabbing is real in Uganda today, there are instances where some people in Uganda take it as if their right to grab land and make developments there. This type of people when attempts are made to evict them, they are so big headed and more often than not want to resort to higher authorities, when Food Land Alliance comes up with a Register for all evicted from land, I think it does not give the right picture.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka
A LETTER TO MEMBERS OF UGANDANS AT HEART
As you are aware there are four complicated forms of landownership in Uganda unlike in developed nations which reduced to only two, namely, freehold, leasehold. In Uganda we have the former plus two , that is, mailo and customary. Given the change of circumstances the latter, that is, mailo and customary are likely to be absorbed into the former, that is, freehold(mailo likely to take this form) and leashold. There are number of pieces of legislations regulating land ownership Uganda. However, the most essential pieces are (a) Land Act 1998 (Ch 227), (b) Land Acquistion Act 1965(Ch 226) and (c) Registration of Titles Act 1924(Ch 230).
As regards the issue of recent so called ‘ Mengo evictions’, it first and foremost depends on how the deprived parties obtained that land; were they granted (a)leasehold? Or b) freehold(?). If any of those, did they bother to register their titles? Or Is it so that the land in question was obtained fraudulently? If you are granted either a freehold or leasehold, you can’t just be evicted abrutly without an advance notice. The notice can be served to you provided you breach the covenant(e.g failure to pay rent) between you and your landlord (previous land lord if bought freehold). However though served a notice to vacate, the landlord must seek a court order to lawfully evict you. Most land disputes are handled by land tibunals, but if unsuccessful at the tribual level,then the high court, a court which also deals with emergency situations which may require the deprived party to seek an injunction. So I don’t know well whether the Mengo victims were lawfull freeholders or leaseholders and what exactly transpired. Did they, for instance, acquire the land fraudulently or just breached the covenant with their landlord(the Kabaka)?
The following section is a good authority on eviction of tenants:
PART XII—ACTIONS AND OTHER REMEDIES S.176 Registration of Titles Act 1924(Ch 230)
176. Registered proprietor protected against ejectment except in certain
No action of ejectment or other action for the recovery of any land shall lie or be sustained against the person registered as proprietor under this Act, except in any of the following cases—
the case of a mortgagee as against a mortgagor in default;
the case of a lessor as against a lessee in default;
the case of a person deprived of any land by fraud as against the person registered as proprietor of that land through fraud or as vb against a person deriving otherwise than as a transferee bona fide for value from or through a person so registered through fraud;
the case of a person deprived of or claiming any land included in any certificate of title of other land by misdescription of the other land or of its boundaries as against the registered proprietor of that other land not being a transferee of the land bona fide for value;
the case of a registered proprietor claiming under a certificate of title prior in date of registration under this Act in any case in which two or more certificates of title may be registered under this Act in respect of the same land,
and in any case other than as aforesaid the production of the registered certificate of title or lease shall be held in every court to be an absolute bar and estoppel to any such action against the person named in that document as the grantee, owner, proprietor or lessee of the land described in it, any rule of law or equity to the contrary notwithstanding
The best thing to do at the moment is perhaps to enact a new piece of legislation which require compulsory registration of titles(perhaps computerized?), just to curb the increase of fraud involved in acquiring land titles in Uganda and regulation of relationships) between the landlord(s) and tenant(s). England and Wales have very formidable pieces of legislation, that is, Land Registration Act 2002 and Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996, which address those problems decently.
OPEN LETTER ON THE LAN (AMENDMENT)BILL 2007
Posted on 27 November 2009
Dear Honourable Members,
I write further to Owek. Katikkiro’s letter to you on the Land (Amendment) Bill 2007 that is presently on the floor of Parliament.
The kingdom recognises the fact that there are many people suffering violent evictions from their homes and that ancestral grounds are being desecrated in gross violation of our cultural norms. However, we do not consider that the Bill addresses the twin evils of corruption and impunity, which are the root cause of the rampant evictions across the country. Rather than solving the problem, this Bill sows the seeds of many more problems in the future. It is bound to set communities against each other and further divide our people along social and economic lines. Instead of helping people to live together in harmony, the Bill will exaggerate latent fault lines in our society and foster hatred and violence that may take generations to resolve. You must be aware already of the unfortunate cases where some occupants have killed innocent landlords to protect their interests.
In our view, the solution to illegal evictions lies in the enforcement of the current laws and not in passing of new ones. There is nothing today that stops the Police or other security organ from arresting, detaining and prosecuting individuals that illegally evict occupants of land. The Constitution of Uganda Art. 237 (8) and the 1998 Land Act guarantee security of tenure of lawful and bona fide occupants. This position has been reconfirmed by the Supreme Court of Uganda in the cases of Kampala District Land Board vs National Housing and Construction Corporation CA no. 2 of 2004 and Kampala District Land Board vs Babweyaka and 3 others CA No. 2 2007. In view of this, it is clear that the Bill is superfluous.
The Bill compounds the problem of Buganda’s expropriated land including the 9,000Sq miles that remain in the hands of the state. By entrenching the rights of all sorts of occupants of that land and making it impossible to remove them, except for non payment of ground rent, the Bill in effect completely alienates the said land and renders any “negotiations” for its eventual return futile. This, plus the fact that bibanja holdings are found mainly in Buganda makes the Bill particularly problematic for Buganda. Yet there are no limits on the size of bibanja.
We also consider that the failure to fully operationalise the 1998 Land Act must be addressed. The Bill will not have any real effect if the Land Act itself is largely dysfunctional. Substituting the role of the district land boards for example, with the minister in charge of lands can not be a solution to the problem.
Thus, like many other groups and individuals in the country, the Kingdom of Buganda opposes the Bill and presented its views to the Physical Infrastructure and the Legal Committees on April 10, 2009. We highlighted the dangers that lurk within the Bill and proposed an ideal, “win-win”, solution to the problem of violent evictions founded on the uniform and strict enforcement of existing laws. Sadly, it would appear that the Committee did not give adequate consideration to this presentation.
Land affects all of us. We relate to it culturally, socially and economically. Land nurtures us, sustains us and ultimately entombs us when we pass on. This makes land rights a very sensitive issue that should not be unnecessarily politicised or decided upon in haste. I urge you to consult widely with your constituents and to search your conscience before making a decision. Please take note that your decision shall affect the cultural, social and economic wellbeing of millions of people in this generation and in generations to come. I trust that you understand the value and wisdom of broad consensus in matters such as this one – for it is consensus that bestows any law with legitimacy. This is truly a matter which calls for patriotism over partisanship or politics. Above all, take note that in casting your parliamentary vote, you stand before the Court of Posterity.
Honourable Member, the people of Buganda and Uganda count on your wisdom and integrity and trust that, together with your Honourable colleagues, you will handle this Bill objectively in order to engender peace, order, development and good governance in Uganda as prescribed by Article 79(1) of the Constitution.
I thank you for your kind attention.
Mr Makubuya is the Attorney General of Buganda Kingdom
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