TOP
Thursday,October 01,2020 01:28 AM
  • Home
  • Archive
  • No poverty eradication without land reform

No poverty eradication without land reform

By Vision Reporter

Added 4th April 2007 03:00 AM

IT has been proposed during the ongoing land policy consultations that Uganda should abolish Mailo tenure. Mailo land tenure was introduced in Uganda under the 1900 Buganda Agreement. Under this agreement, all land in Buganda was alienated into two tenure systems: Crown land and Mailo land.

No poverty eradication without land reform

IT has been proposed during the ongoing land policy consultations that Uganda should abolish Mailo tenure. Mailo land tenure was introduced in Uganda under the 1900 Buganda Agreement. Under this agreement, all land in Buganda was alienated into two tenure systems: Crown land and Mailo land.

By Augustus Nuwagaba

IT has been proposed during the ongoing land policy consultations that Uganda should abolish Mailo tenure. Mailo land tenure was introduced in Uganda under the 1900 Buganda Agreement. Under this agreement, all land in Buganda was alienated into two tenure systems: Crown land and Mailo land.

The latter was allotted to the Kabaka, the members of the royal family and the chiefs, while the former was allotted to Her Majesty the Queen of England and later became public land after independence.

The implication of the 1900 agreement was that by the stroke of Sir Harry Johnston’s pen, the local peasants who had lived on the land for many years were rendered landless as they turned into tenants to their new landlords (Mailo land owners). Mailo tenure was later exported to areas outside Buganda – particularly Bunyoro in the current Kibaale District. Buganda was rewarded for successfully allying with the British Colonial state against Bunyoro.

There have been various attempts at addressing land tenure problem by the Busulu and Envujjo law (1927); Amin’s Land Reform Decree (1975), the Constitution (1995), and the Land Act (1998) as amended in 2004, but all these legislations have been to no avail.

When Amin realised that the Mailo system was taking Uganda nowhere, he declared a Land Reform Decree (1975) which in effect abolished Mailo land. However, the decree was never implemented. The land registry continued with their two files of Mailo and public lease, and Amin never applied his iron fist to have the decree implemented. He must have realised that land ownership was a hot political potato that needed careful handling.

Under the 1995 Constitution, Article 237 effectively repealed the 1975 Land Reform Decree and re-instated Mailo land. The Article states that: “Land in Uganda belongs to citizens and vests in them according to the following tenure systems namely: mailo; free hold; public leasehold and customary tenure” Even the Constitution never resolved the issue of tenants that were dispossessed by their erstwhile land lords.

The Constituent Assembly instead made a provision for a later law to be implemented in what came to be the 1998 Land Act. However, the Land Act exacerbated the Mailo tenure question instead of resolving it. There are a number of issues that need understanding:

Mailo land was introduced in Buganda under the colonial state formation. The aim was to use land as a tool of imperialism.

All the legislations on land tenure in Uganda have focused on land ownership and not on land utilisation. They tend to consider land as a cultural rather than an economic commodity.

The Land Act (amended in 2004) created more complications by guaranteeing multiple legitimacy over the same piece of land. The Act created lawful tenants on land belonging to other people by registration and good title. This is dualism — contradictory and competing claims over the same land parcel. This multiple claim over land creates an impasse as landlords with titles cannot use their land while tenants live on the same land they do not own. Such duality of land tenure constrains the land market and does not favour investment and effective utilisation of land. The implication is the need to map out the most appropriate strategy to “free” the land to the market.

Land is the most important [primitive] factor of production. It is therefore crucial that production systems access land. Over 80% of the Ugandan population is employed in agriculture. Our poverty levels have been in the range of 30-40%. There is smallholder agriculture with peasant farmers holding land under customary tenure or as tenants (lawful/bonafide or illegal) with no user rights of the land they access or occupy. These people cannot mortgage the land (they do not own it) nor can they effectively invest on the land (they do not have perpetual rights over the land or vested interest). They continue walking in poverty and without any means of livelihood. It is, therefore, apparent that the forms and antecedents of accessing land must be clear. Given that 88% of Ugandans primarily live and depend on land, it is critical that the means of appropriation of land must be carefully handled.

Since 1900, there has been over legislation on land ownership. This has, however, not helped the transformation of agriculture. Any land legislation must consider land as an economic good and a development resource. The issues under consideration here are: ensuring access to land for investment; land productivity; physical planning and development; and management of environmental consequences of land use operations. It is because of the importance of land as a factor of production that the land policy consultations require the input of every stakeholder.

The writer is a consultant
on poverty eradication

No poverty eradication without land reform

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author