“A number of cases have been resolved through mediation. The Commission has successfully piloted and tested creative methods of conflict resolution which other agencies can investigate further and mainstream,”
Land probe commission chairperson Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, has rooted for mediation, it works better than the adversarial way of resolving disputes.
Bamugemereire made the remarks on Friday, as the 30-month tenure of the commission lapsed.
Flanked by probe commissioners at the entity head office in Kampala, she revealed that they had accomplished hitherto perceived insurmountable tasks.
“A number of cases have been resolved through mediation. The Commission has successfully piloted and tested creative methods of conflict resolution which other agencies can investigate further and mainstream,” said Bamugemereire.
“Given the overwhelming number of disputes recorded, the Commission sought to test the effectiveness of mediation as an Alternative Dispute Resolution(ADR) mechanism. Through, among others exploring settlement of a few selected complaints, also known as African Dispute Resolution Mechanisms.”
Last year on June 22, the proprietor of Movit Products Limited Simpson Birungi agreed to pay sh600m compensation to 10 Jinja evictee families of the iconic Aldina building, in a reconciliation brokered by the land probe commission.
Birungi’s lawyer Emmy Musasirane, and Benedict Isiko; the chairperson of the evictees under their umbrella organisation Aldina Twegaite Traders’ Association, confirmed the reconciliation.
They appeared at a confirmation session conducted at the probe head office at Archives and Records Centre on Lourdel Road in the city suburb of Nakasero.
Deputy lead counsel John Bosco Suuza, contextualised the success. He noted that one of the commission's terms of reference is to inquire into the effectiveness of the alternative dispute resolution mechanism
On June 2, 2011, Birungi’s investment firm Birus Property Services Limited (BPSL), was granted a lease by Uganda Land Commission(ULC).
Subsequently, the iconic building on Plot 60-62 Aldina Visram Road was razed, and replaced with the multi-level Busoga Mall Complex.
The lease raised controversy, with queries that a historic government building was demolished by Birungi, and several tenants with business premises, evicted.
The full sh600m compensation for damages was deposited into the commission’s account, with permission from the National Treasury.
Bamugemereire remarked: “We thank both sides for allowing the commission to become your medium, and to test this alternative dispute resolution. We hope this goodwill will settle the differences.”
Adding: “We would like to thank His Excellency the President for giving us this authority. We believe there has been success because of the goodwill of the public.”
Isiko paid tribute to Museveni for instituting the inquiry commission. He also commended the probe team, saying its robustness has given them a new lease of life.
Musasirane expressed satisfaction, saying the truce was reached with utmost transparency, and was devoid of any coercion or threats.
“We now live at Busoga Mall as a family. Our company released sh600m to compensate our brothers and sisters for whatever property they lost,” Musasirane remarked.
Commission fact file
On December 8, 2016, President Yoweri Museveni appointed a seven-member commission of inquiry chaired by Court of Appeal Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, to inquire into land matters.
This was prompted by several documented instances of public outcry. The team took oath on February 19, 2017, with mandate to inquire into the effectiveness of law, policies and processes of land acquisition, land administration, land management and land registration.
Subsequently, public hearings commenced on May 9, 2017 at National Archives and Records Centre in the city suburb of Nakasero.
On November 10, 2017, the President extended the probe’s mandate for six months. Last year on May 4, 2018, Museveni endorsed an 18-month extension of the probe.
The probe commissioners are Frederick Ruhindi, Dr. Rose Nakayi, Mary Ochan, Robert Ssebunnya, Joyce Habaasa, and George Bagonza.
Deputy lead counsel is John Bosco Suuza, while Andrew Odiit is assistant lead counsel.