THE Paramount chief of Teso, Augustine Lemukol Osuban, has commended the Government for staying the Land Amendment Bill, which he said was contradictory to the Teso customary land tenure system.
Osuban said clans are responsible for managing the customary land in the region on behalf of the people of Teso.
â€œIâ€™m happy that the Government stayed the passing of the Bill because it was not applicable to Teso,â€ Osuban said. He said the Bill granted the courts powers to evict people, yet they (courts) do not understand the Teso principles, practices, rights and responsibilities in land management.
In 2007, the Government introduced a Land Bill, which it said was intended to protect peasants from illegal evictions and regulate the relationship between land owners and tenants.
However, the Bill drew criticism from land-owners, local leaders and rights groups. Most of the criticism came from cultural leaders, who said the Bill was designed to grab peopleâ€™s land.
â€œHow can you be jailed for seven years because of chasing away someone who came to stay on your land illegally?â€ Osuban asked, adding that there was no need for the Government to know how clan land is managed.
Osuban was on Friday speaking at the launch of the book on the use of land in accordance with Teso culture at the Lukiiko Hall in Soroti district.
The book was written with support from the Land and Equity Movement in Uganda (LEMU). Osuban said if the district councils in the region had passed ordinances concerning land use, the Bill would have found them in their implementation stage.
He appealed to the Iteso to use the book to minimise land wrangles in their areas. The book also lists the rights of heads of families, heirs, unmarried girls and boys, widows and orphans.
â€œClan leaders should make this book their bible to arbitrate matters concerning land,â€ Osuban advised, adding that the book contains details of how Teso land was used in the past.
â€œThis book can be used by everybody, including courts of law, as long as they are handling issues concerning land in Teso,â€ said LEMU coordinator, Judith Atwoko.
Teso commends govt for delaying Land Bill