SIR â€” On Wednesday, it was reported that President Yoweri Museveni had stopped land stops land evictions. What was not clear was whether this order stops in Buganda only where special emphasis was made on Mengo or it covers even areas outside Buganda including where government is the one evicting bona fide occupants.
I am aware of the various government agencies evicting people from forest reserves, wetlands and refuge setttlements but I will restrict my case to Rwamwanja in Nkoma sub-county, Kamwenge district. Local people are being threatened with eviction.
This is clearly double standards by government and its agents. In July, the government sent surveyors under heavy military escorts to forcefully survey a big chunk of land in this area occupied by about 1000 families who were there before 1995, hence by law must be bonafide occupants.
The surveyors destroyed peopleâ€™s property and traumatised the wanainchi in the process. Fake signposts claiming that this area is refuge settlement that was gazetted in 1953 were put up!
This is so long ago that even the Rwanda refugees had not arrived there! This was done to justify the illegal claim on the land.
What is even more disturbing is that in may, Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi himself called a meeting between the residentsâ€™ representative and the government agencies (Minister of Disaster and Preparedness and Ministry of Water Lands and Environment ) where the officials from the Ministry of Water Lands and Environment announced, in his presence, that they were not aware of this area being a gazetted settlement.
The records of this meeting have since gone missing from all government files.
The minister of state from this very ministry turned up a few days later in Nkoma to inform residents that this was government land which the government now wanted. He was not ready to answer any question from the occupants as to which ministry or department it belonged.
As a citizen whose investments have been halted and being threatened to lose the little I thought I owned, I seek clarification on who is or is not covered by the presidentâ€™s directive on evictions. In whose interests are thegovernment agents acting?
The government officials have insisted on calling this piece of land Crown Land. Not even a refuge settlement as it was initially claimed, was crown Land before the 1995 constitution!
They have denounced the role of traditional leaders in managing of crown land under their jurisdiction despite the fact that it was these people the colonial government was dealing with to resettle the Bakiga in the then Ankole and Toro Kingdoms in th 1950s!
Does land directive cover only Buganda?