Those who allege that sh13b is a lot should know that the land problem has been there for decades and if injecting in more money will solve the problem, then it is worth it.
By David Serumaga
For a long time, Uganda has been experiencing land issue problems, which have left the nation’s with economic, social, political, tribal and regional struggles that have resulted in loss of lives, hatred, discrimination, displacement and forceful eviction of people and their properties. Even when our colonial masters were making regional boundaries, some kingdoms fought to get back what others had stolen from them in terms of land.
In 1990, the NRM Government under the leadership of President Yoweri Museveni thought of curbing the land issue by introducing land reforms that were meant to tackle linkages between land access, ownership and poverty. They did this by chronicling the key policy issues in the Constitution of 1995 and the Land Act of 1998.
It went ahead to discuss land ownership and the Resource Requirement of the Land Act, among others. The paper tried to highlight the importance of land reform for enhancing landownership and productivity, safeguarding land access for the poor and pastoralists and for governance and domestic revenue generation.
Despite such implementations, the land problem seemed to be chronic. This did not stop the NRM Government from finding solutions to streamline the land problem. By doing this, President Museveni on December 8, 2016 appointed and swore in a commission of inquiry into land matters headed by Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire to handle the following land questions.
1.Investigate and inquire into the law, processes and procedures by which land is administered and registered in Uganda.
2.Investigate and inquire into the role and effectiveness of the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) in administering public land and the Land Fund.
3.Investigate, inquire into and review the effectiveness of the relevant bodies in the preservation of wetlands, forests and game reserves and examine ways in which the challenge of human habitation in those areas can be resolved.
4.To investigate, inquire and solicit views on the role of traditional, cultural and religious institutions, who own large tracts of land with occupants in a bid to enhance better landlord/tenant relationships.
5.To assess the legal and policy framework on government land acquisition.
6.To identify, investigate and inquire into the effectiveness of the dispute resolution mechanisms available to persons involved in land disputes.
7.To inquire into any other matter connected with or incidental to the matters aforesaid and make recommendations.
The Commission shall make recommendations:
8.For improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the law, policies and processes of land acquisition, land administration, land management and land registration in Uganda and proposing necessary reforms.
9. Pertaining to civil, administrative and criminal sanctions against persons found culpable for wrong doing.
The commission was given an ultimatum of six months to come up with the report, but due to pubic demand and increased land cases, the President and the finance ministry added the commission money to ensure that they listen to every Ugandan who had issues with land. In the last 11 months, out of 6,000 the commission has handled 1,500.
From the media coverage, all regions where the commission has gone, it has exposed, arrested and grilled land grabbers, government officials who sell government and public land, politicians, rich security officers who use their powers to grab, torture and those who use other means to cause land problems in Uganda.
The commission has gone to the extent of calling senior citizens in the country, where by some have been proven guilty, while others give false information to the commissioners, which has led them into Police cells.
Recently, the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and the permanent secretary of the finance ministry, promised to investigate the Bamugemereire commission over accountability. This has caused multiple arguments on some people saying that since the commission of land inquirers has exposed some big government officials in land matters, they have decided to investigate the commission’s spending of sh13b. Others, mainly the Opposition, have come up to say this is a lot of money spent on a commission of less than 10 members.
Yes, I believe that everyone who uses government money has to account for it. Those who allege that sh13b is a lot should know that the land problem has been there for decades and if injecting in more money will solve the problem, then it is worth it. Since the issue of land has been a long-time problem, the sh13b given tp the commission of inquiry into land matters is even not enough.
The writer is the president of the Buganda Youth Wing