By John Semakula and Ivan Lubega
KAYUNGA - Despite protests from the state minister for lands, Aidah Nantaba, the Police’s activities in Kayunga are gaining ground.
New Vision has learnt that a group of Police’ criminal investigations officers from Kampala have camped in Kayunga.
Nantaba, however, insists that whatever the Police are doing is worthless. She said President Yoweri Museveni would soon visit the district to resolve the wrangles, and that he would not base on Police findings.
The Police officers in Kayunga are led by the new Commandant of the Land Protection Police Unit (LPPU), Fred Enanga.
He said they were investigating the truth about the claims of the tenants. He added that the unit is also verifying land titles to find out if they are authentic.
The conflict between Nantaba and Police boss Gen. Kale Kayihura has left thousands of tenants, who had looked to Nantaba’s committee to resolve the land wrangles, in the cold.
The mood now among the tenants is that of soldiers whose commander has fled the battlefield.
Uganda Police chief Gen. Kale Kayihura
The chairman of Kokotero village in Kayunga district, Robert Kityo, told New Vision that many tenants, whom Nantaba had resettled, had fled their bibanja.
Kityo said animals belonging to landlords were freely roaming their gardens, eating up crops.
“When Kayihura visited Kayunga, Police officers started threatening us and we fled the bibanja,” he added.
Nantaba’s appointment to handle land wrangles had rekindled hope among tenants who had suffered rampant eviction.
Thousands of tenants filed petitions as soon as the committee was instituted, but endless wrangles, have left the victims as hopeless as they were before.
Many tenants in Kayunga, where Nantaba is area MP, are bitter that the minister’s efforts to save them have been foiled.
After working for a few weeks, Nantaba suspended work, citing failure by the Police to cooperate with the committee.
According to the notice of appointment, the Nantaba committee was supposed to serve from March to June, filing reports to the Minister of Lands, Daudi Migereko, who would forward them to the President.
But a source said no report had been filed by the time the committee suspended its work. Efforts to speak to Migereko were futile.
'On orders of president'
But the suspension of the committee’s activities may have forced the President to send another emissary, Kayihura, to Kayunga.
Once in Kayunga, Kayihura rejuvenated the Land Protection Police Unit. President Museveni had frozen the activities of other parallel units, leaving Nantaba to ride the tiger alone.
President Museveni also visited Kayunga and promised to make a verdict in the land wrangle. There are now reports that the President is reconciling Kayihura and Nantaba.
Nantaba had earlier blamed powerful landlords in Kayunga such as Moses Karangwa Kalisa, for frustrating her efforts. The day Nantaba wanted to go to Kinamawanga village, where he owns a chunk of land, the latter warned that he would act with little restraint if she dared to step on his land. Nantaba cancelled her meeting.
When Karangwa antagonised Nantaba, the minister laid her tools down and went quiet, threatening to resign. She, however, resurfaced recently, with fresh accusations against Kayihura.
On visiting Kayunga, Kayihura ordered that cattle which had been thrown out of the contested land on Nantaba’s orders be herded back, a move which angered Nantaba.
Kayihura insists he was working on the orders of President Museveni.
In her outbursts, however, Nantaba accused Kayihura of siding with Karangwa to “illegally” evict peasants. She has vowed not to intervene in land wrangles in other parts of the country, before solving those in Kayunga.
But Kayihura says Nantaba should consider his effort as reinforcement of her work.
Meanwhile lands ministry spokesperson Denis Obo told New Vision that they had recorded endless cases of illegal land evictions.
Obo said they intervene in some of the cases and refer others to court.
According to the scope of work, the committee’s major task is to resettle tenants by occupancy and other land owners who had been illegally evicted back to their land.
But Wakiso Woman MP Rosemary Seninde, a member on the committee, said the Government needs to rethink a new strategy to end the land wrangles.
Seninde said the committee cannot yield tangible results under the existing environment. “I learnt a lot of lessons in the two weeks the committee was in Kayunga. The Government should come up with a clear land policy, a land fund and a better implementation mechanism,” she said.
Seninde said the land policy would help in solving the dual land ownership problem in central Uganda, while the land fund would compensate landlords.
She noted that Government should do something on the implementation of land laws because the judiciary seems to have failed. “Even in wrangles which appear obvious, the courts rule otherwise,” she noted.
Nantaba is area MP, are bitter that the minister’s efforts to save them have been foiled.
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