1 May 2008

Uganda: Army Warned On Land Grabbing

Kampala — DEFENCE minister Dr. Crispus Kiyonga has asked army officers to desist from land grabbing.

He said the act would alienate the people from the Government.

Citing Col. John Mugyenyi and Maj. Gen. Jim Owoyesigire of the Air force, the minister asked the army leaders to investigate cases of land grabbed by army officers.

Kiyonga was on Wednesday speaking at the second annual general meeting for Wazalendo Credit and Savings Cooperative Society, at the Junior Officers College at Gadaffi Barracks in Jinja.

"Soldiers were accused of evicting people. This is betrayal. The land situation is spoiling our relationship with the population," he said.

"Comrades, if we don't handle this issue carefully, it will be a big problem. We came to government through a revolution. Our revolution is to transform the people. The urge to get rich quickly is dangerous for the revolution."

Kiyonga asked the commander of the Land Forces, Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala, to take up the matter.

"We need to sort out these issues. Our comrades like Mugyenyi, are evicting people. Jim of the Airforce has too much land in Masindi and is fighting the church.

"Mugyenyi should know that he is a beneficiary of the revolution and he can not spoil it. What does a soldier want with 300 acres of land when other people have nothing? This matter should be addressed urgently," the minister said, adding that army officers should acquire land peacefully.

He urged the soldiers to embrace SACCOs to improve their standards of living.

The Government would improve the soldiers' salaries, Kiyonga added.

He denied allegations that the Government had killed the cooperative movement, arguing that the Government had instead reformed the cooperatives.

"In the old cooperatives, the beneficiaries were only the secretary generals and the managers of the cooperative movements, but now it is individuals on the ground."

Kiyonga urged the soldiers to avoid corruption and contracting HIV/AIDS. "We must keep alive. Dying in the battle field cannot be resisted, but dying of controllable diseases can be.

"Even if you were, there are ARVs to keep you and the revolution alive."

Katumba urged soldiers to embrace saving. "Financial discipline is the key to success. Don't spend on unnecessary items."

The manager of Uganda Credit and Savings Union, Wilson Kabando, said the Ministry of Finance should come up with a law managing SACCOs.

SACCOs are being run under the cooperatives law.

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