Bugaya clarified that the portion of land in Makerere that BLB was claiming was never part of the official estate of the Kabaka.
KAMPALA - Buganda Land Board (BLB) has explained why they rejected the money that had been advanced to it by Makerere University for the renewal of the lease for the land under which the Faculty of Law and Makerere Institute of Social Research is located.
BLB's Public Relations Officer Dennis Bugaya who is also the Senior Manager Operations and Business Development in an interview with Saturday Vision noted that BLB rejected the money for a proposed swap for a small portion of the Makerere University Land in Makindye which houses the birthplace for the first Ugandan President Kabaka Sir Edward Muteesa.
"It was aimed at bringing the Birthplace of Sir Edward Muteesa into full control of Buganda Kingdom. The Birthplace of Kabaka Muteesa is so dear to the Institution of Buganda both heritage wise and emotional wise since he was one of the eminent and significant Ssekabakas in our history" Bugaya said.
He also denied claims that they wanted to take a bigger chunk of the land at Makindye indicating that, "we are not looking at taking the entire 14 acres but rather a portion that could be in a range of 2-3 acres. Depending on the value of the land with what we are exchanging at Makerere."
Bugaya clarified that the portion of land in Makerere that BLB was claiming was never part of the official estate of the Kabaka, noting that the subject land is Katikkiroship land. "It is the official Estate Attached to the Office of Katikkiro measuring around 1.7 acres. This land is different from the 92 acres that houses Makerere University that was given as freehold. The lease to this particular land expired in 1975.
Buganda kingdom is not claiming any ground rent arrears from Makerere. Neither is Buganda Kingdom seeking to be paid money as an exchange for this land," he stated.
Last month, Saturday Vision published an exclusive story after obtaining documents indicating that the late Kabaka Daudi Chwa sold his entire private estate of 92.72 acres (Final Certificate 14100 Mailo reg. Vol.77 Folio 10) at Makerere and 51.16 acres (Mailo Reg. Vol: 338 Folio 13) at Mulago to the Colonial Government.
Bugaya noted that Buganda as an institution, "has always had a policy that is pro-education. This has been so since this the Reign of Ssekabaka Chwa that is when a decision was made under the stewardship of Katikkiro Nsibirwa to house Makerere University, where it is now"
BLB was created in 1993 immediately after the coronation of Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II as the 36th Kabaka of Buganda to manage land and property returned under the Restitution of Assets and Properties Act 1993. According to Bugaya, such properties included the Bulange, the Lubiri, the Butikkiro, Buganda Court Buking, Kabaka's official 350sq miles, Namasole's 10sq miles, Bannalinya's land, Kabaka's Lake, former Omuwanika and Omulamizi's official residence at Mengo among others.
Saturday Vision in its series on controversies around Makerere land had noted that because of the rejection of the lease renewal in 2016, the University has been unable to attract or retain funding for expansion of MISR. This was after BLB refused in 2016 to give consent so that KCCA to approve building plans after they secured a grant from Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation.
The funds were meant to develop an additional structure to meet the increasing number of students accessing MISR but the funds were forfeited after MISR failed to get a library extension and stand-alone pavilion plans/designs approved by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).
Makerere University Secretary Yusuf Kiranda confirmed that this coming financial year, they had allocated sh4bn in their budget for the construction of modern buildings at the Faculty of Law but the building plans could not proceed because of the challenges they faced with the kingdom.
"The Lecturers are supposed to have bigger halls and also offices where they can meet and interact with their students but they are unable to do so because of the fights over land," he noted. Kiranda said that they had at one time contemplated shifting the Faculty of Law owing to the fight over land.
Asked on whether they would consider writing to (KCCA) to approve construction plans by Makerere to construct new buildings at the Faculty of law after the institution set aside shs4b this coming financial year for the construction of new buildings, Bugaya noted that, "the approval of a plan is a procedural issue, under the mandate of KCCA. However, KCCA requires a land title as a prerequisite. Since Makerere has no title, we are ready to give them one but along the lines of the proposed swap arrangement."
On April 4, 2019, Makerere University Vice-Chancellor Barnabas Nawangwe met Her Royal Highness Sylvia Nagginda the Nnabagereka or Queen of Buganda and Prince David Kintu Wasajja of Buganda over the matter.
In a letter to Buganda Premier Charles Peter Mayiga dated June 17, 2019, about the meeting with Buganda royals, Nawangwe noted that "at the meeting, it was agreed in principle that the proposal to exchange the land at Makerere University with an equivalent size of land at Makindye Hill was acceptable, subject to the University Council approval, on condition that the kingdom of Buganda would transfer the land at Makerere Kibuga Block 9, Plot 439 Kagugube Hill as freehold. We also agreed that I would present this proposal to the University Council on receipt of the proposal from the kingdom."
In a letter dated January 24, 2020, Buganda Premier Peter Mayiga noted that after consulting widely with requisite kingdom organs, the kingdom was agreeable to the swap deal but noted that, "the land valuers advised that the prevailing market value of an acre of land at Makerere is shs2.5billion and that of Makindye is sh800million."
Sources in Makerere noted that some Makerere University Council officials rejected this offer since Makerere Investment Development Committee had plans to redevelop its land in Makindye. Bugaya, however, observed that they were making substantive progress for the good of the two institutions.