If land reforms are not undertaken diligently, even men of the cloak will not be safe as the events in Mukono demonstrate
The Uganda Law Society (ULS) has said that the recent attack on the Church of Uganda prelates by a mob in Mukono highlights the unresolved grave concerns in the land sector.
"The incident shines a light in the overlapping interest over land in Uganda. It underscores the need for a reform of our land laws so as to protect the legitimate interest of all while freeing land for productivity," said Francis Gimara, the president ULS.
On August 23rd, 38 Bishops led by the Archbishop Stanley Ntagali together with the vice chancellor Uganda Christian University, Dr. John Ssenyonyi, survived being lynched by a mob when they visited a contested piece of land that allegedly belongs to the church and is currently being developed by the University.
According to Ssenyonyi, the land was gifted to the church by the family of the late Ham Mukasa in 1921 which later also donated it to the university.
He stated that some of the occupants of the land were compensated but others insisted on staying on the property, which the university now wants to use for research. Those still occupying the land became irked by the prelates' visit and started pelting stones at them and threatening to burn the bus they were travelling in.
In a statement issued on August 31, 2016, Gimara said that if land reforms are not undertaken diligently, even men of the cloak will not be safe as the events in Mukono demonstrate.
He stated that the recently proposed amendment to the land laws by government must be cognizant of the historical land injustice created by past governments and must also protect the livelihoods of the vast majority in Uganda.
There has been a bitter public uproar against the proposal and in particular, Buganda Kingdom has rejected it on grounds that it infringes on peoples' right of ownership.
"The proposed amendments will need to protect property rights, and not arbitrarily deprive citizens of their proprietary rights before and without due process," Gimara said.
Recently, Betty Amongi, the minister for lands, housing and urban development clarified that the amendments are not aimed at grabbing people's land but aimed at removing the hindrances in implementing public projects.
She said that the amendment is aimed at enabling government to acquire land before compensation for projects such as roads, railway, hospitals, schools, water projects, power projects, and others which are in public interest.
However, Gimara said that the law society will continue to engage the government in the proposed process of reviewing the Land laws to ensure a just and equitable outcome.