The Observer (Kampala)

15 August 2014

Uganda: Why City Land Board Boss Is Quitting

After four years as chairman of the Kampala District Land Board (KDLB), Yusuf Nsibambi plans to cut his term short.

Nsibambi is calling it quits a year to the end of his current five-year term, because he lacks the requisite quorum to do business. Nsibambi, who has had several run-ins with Jennifer Musisi, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) executive director, was appointed KDLB chairman by former Kampala Mayor Al-hajji Nasser Ntege Sebaggala.

The terms of four of his six board members expire on August 31. That leaves him with one board member, Faruq Ntege,whose term expires in 2016.

"Though my tenure is supposed to expire in August 2015, shortly after the term of my four members expires on August 31, 2014, I will resign office because technically, the board cannot continue functioning for lack of quorum effective 1st September, 2014 and there is no fully-constituted authority [KCCA] to appoint new members," Nsibambi told The Observer on Tuesday.

The four board members whose mandate runs out later this month are Joyce Nayiga, Babumba Kyeyune, Prof Maria Musoke and JMC Kiwanuka. To stem the crisis, the permanent secretary for the ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mulinde Mukasa Kintu, wrote to Musisi on August 4, directing her to appoint a new board.

"Premised on Section 5(4) of the KCCA Act, arrangements should be made to immediately appoint a new board under Section 57 of the Land Act, so as to avoid creating a vacuum in the management and administration of land in the city," Kintu wrote.

In response, Frank Tumwebaze, the minister responsible for KCCA,wrote on the same day to the attorney general (AG), seeking his legal opinion.

"I am writing to seek your advice as to whether the minister responsible for KCCA can as well exercise his powers under Section 79(2) and (3) of Kampala Capital City Act to appoint members of KDLB, subject to approval by the minister responsible for Lands, and thus fill the looming vacuum yet to be created by the expiry of the current board's term," Tumwebaze wrote.

But earlier, Henry Obbo, the Lands ministry spokesman, had warned about the danger of any organ, other than KCCA under the leadership of ousted Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, medalling in the affairs of KDLB. Referring to a High court ruling by Justice Solomy Bossa on July 9, 2013, Obbo warned that until the Constitutionwas amended, KDLB remained an independent body that was not subject to anyone's direction, apart from the fully-constituted KCCA, chaired by Lukwago.

Lukwago,who has no approved deputy, is still locked out of office awaiting a Supreme court verdict that may reinstate him. That means a new KDLB will not be appointed soon and Kampalans will have to wait a little longer to get new land leases or renew old ones.

"From the above, it is our opinion that the finding of the court that the KDLB is independent of KCCA is a binding decision of the court on every agency and persons. In essence, the KDLB continues to exist legally, unless and until declared otherwise by a higher court," Obbo stressed.

In his letter to Tumwebaze on August 7, Nsibambi, a lawyer, advised the minister to have the competent organs urgently commence the process of appointing a new KDLB in consonance with Justice Bossa's verdict.

"You may also wish to learn that the land in question is no longer public land. In fact, the Land Act clearly defines it as 'former' public land and statutory leases also reverted to the respective districts," added Nsibambi.

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