By Cyprian Musoke and Josephine Maseruka
LAND owners have expressed mixed reactions over the new land law.
While some Baganda land owners maintain that the law was not necessary, landlords in the Government have welcomed it.
President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday signed into law the land Bill that was recently passed by Parliament. He, however, took exception to taxing idle land as had been proposed in the draft land policy.
Kasirivu Atwooki, the former lands state minister, called on the Government to activate the land fund to address the property rights of the Banyoro whose land was given to Baganda collaborators who are currently absentee landlords.
The Government, Kasirivu added, could either buy out the absentee landlords and issue titles to the Banyoro or order idle land to revert to the Banyoro.
Trade and industry minister Kahinda Otafiire said as a member of the Cabinet, he is is required to abide by the law. â€œI own land but I am also a member of the Cabinet. I am responsible for whatever we pass, whether good or bad,â€ he said.
Msgr. John Wynand Katende, the Kampala Archdiocese spokesperson, supported the law, calling it a good gesture by the Government. He expressed optimism that it would curb the rampant land evictions.
National Forestry Authority board chairman Baguma Isoke said the law was favourable to both landlords and tenants who are the majority.
Buganda information minister Charles Peter Mayiga maintained that the new law was unnecessary. â€œWe shall amend the law at the earliest opportunity because a law that does not reflect peopleâ€™s wishes cannot work.â€
Democratic Party president Ssebaana Kizito also said the law was not necessary given the long-standing tradition of landlords coexisting with tenants.
He argued that the President bought five square miles in Kisozi.
â€œDoes he mean there were no people on those square miles? What happened to them?â€ Ssebaana asked.
The Land Act, he said, would affect the status quo of the original land tradition so that Museveni emerges the winner.
The Bibanja Ownersâ€™ Association that was launched by the President, Ssebaana added, is a political unit that does not represent the interest of the rightful tenants.