The Constitution recognises four categories of land tenure systems in Uganda: Mailo, freehold, leasehold and customary tenure. It says all Uganda citizens owning land under customary tenure may acquire certificate of ownership in a manner prescribed by Parliament. It seems Parliament failed to effe
The Constitution recognises four categories of land tenure systems in Uganda: Mailo, freehold, leasehold and customary tenure.
It says all Uganda citizens owning land under customary tenure may acquire certificate of ownership in a manner prescribed by Parliament. It seems Parliament failed to effect this. Another section states Land under customary tenure may be converted into freehold land ownership by registration.
This section either makes customary land tenure system to be inferior by converting it to a freehold or it contradicts with section 237, subsection 3, which lists four land tenure systems available in Uganda.
I was among the delegates in the Uganda’s first ever National Land Policy Conference organised by the ministry of Lands in May last year. It was resolved that customary land should have registrable interests like the other land tenure systems and that there will be an introduction of customary land registration offices in all areas with customary land tenure. This will enable all occupants to acquire perpetual customary land titles.
The question of how to introduce registrable interests in areas with a customary land system is still in balance as the Government has not yet come out with any means to address it.
There is a question of, in whose interest shall this land be vested? Some thought of vesting this land in the cultural leaders on behalf of the natives but this idea spark a hot debate and the idea was withdrawn.
Benefits of introducing registrable interests in a customary land tenure
- Land owners bear collateral as security to ease the process of borrowing money from financial institutions.
- A sense of self-sufficiency and independence is built within the customary land owners
- Property can easily be bequeathed as the owner may wish.
- Security of tenure for land users will be provided.
- Land market developments shall be allowed. Investors who may need land for development will be allowed to acquire it subject to an understanding made between the investor and the registered proprietor of that land in question.
- Women shall be accorded the right to land ownership.
- Sensitisation workshops should be facilitated to interest and show benefits of introducing registrable interests of land in the areas under customary land tenure. Land should be surveyed according to the cultural and community settings and thereafter registered under trusts. Since land is owned communally, a given community can hold a community meeting composed specifically of occupants and beneficiaries of that community land and decide on different matters among others;
- to constitute themselves into a trust.
- to agree on the trust name and
- to appoint trustees.
A trust name may be derived from a specific clan name, village name or clan head’s name so long as it can’t be duplicated. These trustees will be mandated to register a trust with the Government through the ministry of Lands. It is the minister of Lands who consents these trusts.
The trustees will also be mandated to survey and register all the property belonging to that community in question in that trust name since it is a legal entity which can sue and can be sued. The resolution to incorporate all the interests of the beneficiaries into a trust holding and the appointment of the trustees must be well documented.
In Buganda, most of the clan land was not surveyed and neither legally registered that some cultural Institutions like the elephant clan registered a trust as Ekika Kyenjovu trust which was mandated to register and keep in custody all clan property in trust and on behalf of all Elephant clan members. This is how this clan managed to sort out this matter of registration and many clans have followed suit.
All this customary land should be well surveyed, documented and the process witnessed by the local leaders on behalf of Government. This process is much better than vesting all the interests in one person who may end up patronising it as his personalproperty.
The writer is the the board secretary Uganda Land Owners Association
Uganda’s customary land ownership needs trusteeship