PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has met Buganda district chairpersons to discuss the controversial Land Bill 2007, the regional tier system of governance and the recent riots that rocked the region for three days.
Buganda kingdom is opposed to the Bill, saying it is a ploy by the Government to grab its land. But the Government argues that the Bill will stop illegal land evictions.
The presidential press secretary, Tamale Mirundi, declined to give details of what was discussed at the meeting at Entebbe State House on Wednesday, saying the President was only carrying out consultations.
But sources said the chairpersons, led by Siraje Nkugwa of Kiboga district, expressed support for the Land Bill, saying it would end the misery of people being evicted massively.
â€œWe told him (President) that the law should be passed because people are suffering as a result of the illegal evictions. Members, however, pointed out provisions that need amendment,â€ the source said.
One such provision, the source added, was that which gives the minister of Lands powers to determine rent.
To show their support for the Bill, the source said the chairmen cited examples of evictions in their districts and the families affected.
The President reportedly asked them to sensitise the public on the advantages of the Bill.
In response, the chairmen requested him to invite sub-county chairpersons and give them the same message, to which Museveni agreed.
The chairmen lauded the President for meeting Buganda king Ronald Muwenda Mutebi.
Referring to the riots that rocked Buganda in September when the king was advised against visiting Kayunga district, the leaders requested the President to continue his dialogue with Buganda.
â€œMembers told the president that the Kabaka is influential in the politics of Uganda and if there is no dialogue, the opposition can manipulate the institution,â€ the source said.
The district leaders also asked the president to have a marshal plan like the northern region social action fund (NUSAF), to help Buganda recover from the effect of the various wars that have been fought in the area.
They gave the example of Masaka district, which was bombed during the 1979 war. The 1981-86 NRA liberation war led by Museveni was largely in the Luweero Triangle in Buganda.
The President is today scheduled to meet the Buganda parliamentary caucus to discuss the same issues. Museveni is also expected to begin touring NAADS projects in Rakai district on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the chairperson of the parliamentary committee on physical infrastructure, Abraham Byandala, said the Land Bill will be tabled in Parliament for the second reading next week.
Byandala told members of the committee yesterday that MPs Peter Nyombi (NRM) and John Kawanga (DP), who the Buganda caucus tasked to scrutinise the 10 points submitted by Buganda Kingdom on the Bill, had to complete their work this week.
â€œThe Prime Minister (Apolo Nsibambi) wants to attend the debate. This Bill must be presented next week, before he travels,â€ Byandala said.
On Tuesday this week, the Minister of Lands, Daniel Omara Atubo, met MPs from Buganda over the Bill.
A source that attended the meeting said the MPs insisted on making additional amendments to the Bill before it is passed.
The 30 MPs, out of the 80 from Buganda, resolved that lawyers John Baptist Kawanga (DP) and Peter Nyombi analyse the Bill and come up with proposed amendments.
The Buganda caucus wants to include a provision giving more grounds for evicting a tenant. The Bill only provides non-payment of ground rent.
The MPs are also querying the powers given to the lands minister to determine the rent in case the district land boards fail to do so in 30 days.
Additional reporting by Josephine Maseruka
Buganda chairmen support land bill