“We call upon all political actors to collectively condemn this unbecoming behavior of the Police and the NRM regime.”
KAMPALA - The Leader of Opposition in parliament Winnie Kiiza (pictured) and her shadow cabinet have embarked on a campaign to sensitize the public against the dangers of the Constitutional Amendment Bill which seeks to give authority to government for compulsory land acquisition.
The sensitization campaign would Friday in Masaka municipality after which they wouldl take it to Kampala and Wakiso before rolling out to other parts of the country.
The Bill gives authority to the central government or the local governments to take possession of land upon depositing the compensation awarded to the owner property with court, pending determination of the court of the disputed awarded to the property owner or person having an interest in or right over the property.
Echoing a message they had agreed upon as the opposition shadow cabinet, Kiiza informed journalists that after scrutinizing the Bill, they had realized as the leadership of the opposition in parliament that the law is not only bad but also unconstitutional on the ground that it infringes on the fundamental right to own property.
"We are going out to tell the world that this Bill is unconstitutional. The only resource Ugandans are left with is land. There have been many scenarios government has taken over land and the projects for which it took it never materialized. They demolished Shimoni School for a CHOGM hotel and up to now it is not there. This is a government that has not been honest in its land dealings," Kiiza stated.
She also cited Naggulu land and Hoima where Ugandans were displaced for projects which have failed to materialize.
The opposition leaders also pointed out the sh2.7trillion of domestic arrears government owes various individuals it has failed to pay as proof that with compulsory land acquisition many other Ugandans would suffer failure of government to pay them for their land.
The shadow minister for internal affairs and Butambala County MP Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi explained that whereas the constitution in article 26 requires government to make adequate compensation before taking over the land, the amendment seeks to take away that guarantee.
"With the amendment, they will simply deposit whatever amount they have come up with in the court and forcefully takeover the land. This is against the principle of willing buyer, will seller," Kivumbi argued.
Article 26 (b1) of the constitution states that adequate compensation, prior to the taking of possession or acquisition of the property must be ensured.
The shadow minister for sports Allan Ssewanyana said, "First of all how many Ugandans can easily access courts of law where government plans to put the money for those who have rejected its compensation? The current situation shows that government is at the center of land grabbing. People don't trust this government. I appeal to various stakeholders to join us in this campaign to kick out this Bill."
Kasese municipality MP Robert Centenary Franco said, "This Bill is a wastage of time and resources because it is not necessary. It will give government authority to officially grab people's land. In Kasese, people's land was taken to expand the Airport and they were given peanuts."
Masaka municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga said, "With this Bill, government wants to change the provision of article 237 of the constitution which states land belongs to Ugandans. By amending article 26, it would mean land now belongs to government and that government can freely takeover whatever land it is interested in."
The Greater North Parliamentary Forum chairman Lyandro Komakech said, "I think this Bill is irrational because land belongs to people. It is treasonable for government to plot to grab people's land. They should withdraw that Bill."
In an interview with New Vision recently while explaining the Bill, state minister for lands Persis Namuganza said it was a mistake for the Constituency Assembly to state (in article 237) that land belongs to people instead of stating that land belongs to government as is the case in some countries like Tanzania and Rwanda.