2 August 2017

Uganda: 73 Percent of MPs Say No to Land Bill

Photo: The Observer
Ministers Kahinda Otafiire and Betty Amongi before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee.

The proposed amendment of article 26 of the Constitution to allow government take possession of private land without prior compensation continues to fiercely divide opinion in parliament.

Opponents of the draft legislation claim the amendment is a government ploy to grab people's land. But government argues that the amendment would stop the long delays in developing infrastructure projects, which also lead to escalation of costs.

In short interviews with The Observer over the past two weeks, 73 out of 100 MPs surveyed across the political divide said they would oppose the bill if it comes to a vote.

Only 11 MPs said they would support the draft legislation, while 16 said they were still undecided (see table).

Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana recently tabled the draft legislation before the House, saying the current law allows individuals to hold government projects hostage.

MPs who support the bill agree with government on this point. "People in Kyegegwa are suffering because of one person," Kyaka North MP Paul Asaba said.

"I support this amendment because some Ugandans are very stubborn. For example, in a sub-county called Ruyonza where they are supposed to put a water purifying plant, the owner of the piece of land, which is 100 feet by 100 feet, asked for 50 million and when we got the money, he increased [the price] to Shs 100 million. Now he wants Shs 150 million," Asaba said.

Col Fred Mwesigye, the Nyabushozi MP, said the "negative elements" campaigning against the bill and sowing seeds of mistrust are doing this country a disservice.

"People should trust government. It is a trustee of every interest of a Ugandan; why should they doubt that government is not going to pay them promptly? Who said that?" Mwesigye asked.

While opposition MPs are predictably united against the bill, many NRM MPs have broken ranks too, leading to doubts as to whether the government will get the required numbers to push it through.

Some of the undecided MPs told The Observer they needed to first consult their voters before they can take a position on the matter. Of the 100 MPs interviewed, 54 are from the ruling NRM, 13 belong to FDC, 11 are DP, two are from UPC and 20 legislators are independents.

THOSE AGAINST

Nakaseke South MP, Paulson Luttamaguzi, said the land amendment is redundant because no government project has stalled due to lack of land.

"Do you want to tell me that the Standard Gauge Railway stalled because people never wanted their land used? Uganda Airlines stalled; is it true that people stopped Uganda Airlines from using their land?" Luttamaguzi asked, rather sarcastically.

Christine Achen Ayo, the Alebtong Woman MP, said a lot of land has already been given to government for schools, hospitals and even barracks; so, it should first utilize that. Whatever land that is left, she said, is for people to eke a living.

Barnabas Tinkasiimire, the Buyaga West MP, said he doesn't support the bill because it could be manipulated by some big shots to steal people's land. Margaret Lamwaka, the Kitgum Woman MP, said she could not support the displacement of people for infrastructural development.

"People also have their rights that before they are displaced, they must be compensated and compensation must be full," she said. Lilly Adong, the Nwoya Woman MP, wondered why government came up with the bill yet there are many court cases regarding compensation of land.

Jonathan Odur, the Erute South MP, said he had consulted widely within his constituency and the people said they do not support it.

"I think that bill is not necessary because any law that seeks to take away people's rights is actually a bad law. What I believe the government has failed to do is to account for the 30 years they have been in power," Odur said.

Moroto MP, Samuel Okwir, said during his consultations, voters said several land cases were before court for more 10 years and until they were resolved, they would not support such an amendment.

"I respect the people who have sent me here. I am doing a delegated role and if they have said no, I have no objection to their decision. It is going to be worse with that bill," Okwir said.

Julius Ochen, the MP for Kapelebyong, said there were still a lot of land issues in Teso to be sorted out.

"That amendment is uncalled for. We have a lot of issues to put right and we feel that amendment will deprive our people of the right to own land," Ochen said.

Bonny Desales Okello, the Kole North MP, said there is no need for government to amend article 26 because it is already provided for.

"Why do we have to amend this Constitution again? Government knows that it owes people a lot of money; there are pending cases of compensation where government has not compensated people. Let government first compensate the owners of the land it has acquired compulsorily before asking for this amendment," Okello said.

Hebert Ariko, the Soroti municipality MP, said it was okay for government to do development projects, including roads, but Ugandans ought to be mindful that as long as government is able to plan for a project, it must also be able to plan for sufficient resources to be used for compensating people beforehand.

"That amounts to simply saying you don't have a right to property and yet we know that Ugandans are not running the industrial and manufacturing sectors anymore. Ugandans are not in charge of key economic sectors.What remains for the people is land. As a representative of the people, I stand with the people and I will not support that amendment," Ariko said.

Butemba MP Innocent Pentagon Kamusiime said the amendment was unpopular in the wake of the current rampant land grabbing. Pius Wakabi, the Bugahya MP, said the land bill was about grabbing Bunyoro land which is rich in oil.

"It is just targeting Bunyoro; that is what I know because if they have failed to pay people before they construct for example a road, how are we sure that these people will be paid after the road is already constructed?" Wakabi said.

Table showing the MPs' position on amending article 26

Name

Constituency

Political party

Position

Barnabas Tinkasiimire

Buyaga West

NRM

No

Samuel Okwir

Moroto

Independent

No

Christine Achen Ayo

Alebtong Woman MP

NRM

No

Hebert Kinobere

Kibuku

Independent

No

Sarah NambozoWekomba

Bulambuli Woman MP

Independent

No

Denis Lee Oguzu

Maracha

FDC

No

Jonathan Odur

Erute South

UPC

No

Tonny Muhindo

Bukonzo East

FDC

No

Lawrence BiyikaSonga

Ora

NRM

No

Henry Maurice Kibalya

Bugabula South

NRM

No

Hellen Adoa

Serere Woman MP

NRM

No

Fred Baseke

Ntenjeru South

Independent

No

Innocent Pentagon Kamusiime

Butemba

NRM

No

Ashraf Olega

Aringa

NRM

Yes

Julius Mukasa Opondo

Bujumba

Independent

No

Joseph Koluo

Toroma

NRM

No

George Abbot Ouma

Bukooli Islands

NRM

No

Fred Mwesigye

Nyabushozi

NRM

Yes

Reuben Paul Chelimo

Kongasis

NRM

No

Bonny DesalesOkello

Kole North

NRM

No

Godfrey Onzima

Aringa North

NRM

Undecided

Agnes Ameede

Pallisa Woman MP

NRM

Undecided

JastineAyebazibwe

Isingiro Woman MP

NRM

No

Evelyn Chemutai

BukwoWoman MP

NRM

No

David Abala

Ngora

NRM

No

Mary Tumwiine

Ntoroko Woman MP

NRM

Undecided

Paul Asaba Nsabimana

Kyaka North

NRM

Yes

Fred Angella

Moroto Municipality

NRM

Yes

Rose Ayaka

Maracha Woman MP

NRM

Undecided

KezekiaMbogo

Budaka

NRM

Undecided

Rose Kabagyeni

Kisoro Woman MP

NRM

Undecided

Gordon Bafaki

Kazo

NRM

Undecided

Paulson Luttamaguzi

Nakaseke South

DP

No

MonicahAmoding

Kumi Woman MP

NRM

No

Ibrahim Kasozi

Makindye East

FDC

No

Lilly Adong

Nwoya Woman MP

Independent

No

Moses Walyomu

Kagoma

NRM

Yes

Francis Mukula

Agule

Independent

No

Margaret Lamwaka

Kitgum Woman MP

NRM

No

Pius Wakabi

Bugahya

NRM

No

Paul Amoru

Dokolo North

NRM

Undecided

Peter Mugema

Iganga Municipality

NRM

Undecided

Felix OkotOgong

Dokolo South

NRM

No

Rosemary Tumusiime Bikaako

Entebbe Municipality

NRM

Undecided

Francis Mwijukye

Buhweju

FDC

No

Geoffrey Macho

Busia Municipality

NRM

No

Andrew Martial

Igara East

NRM

No

Catherine Dorothy Oketayot

Pader Woman MP

NRM

Undecided

Alex Ruhunda

Fort-Portal Muncipality

NRM

Undecided

Stephen Kangwagye

Bukanga

NRM

No

Kenneth Soyekwo

Tingey

Independent

Undecided

Juliet Mukoda Zabwe

Mayuge Woman MP

NRM

Undecided

Theodore Ssekikubo

Lwemiyaga

NRM

No

HatwibKatoto

Katerera

NRM

No

Geoffrey Dhamuzungu

Budiope East

NRM

No

Molly Lanyero

Lamwo Woman MP

NRM

Undecided

Edward Otto Makmot

Agago

Independent

Undecided

Moses Nagwomu Musamba

Bunyole East

NRM

Yes

GenensioTumuramye

Kashongi

NRM

Yes

Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda

Kira Municipality

FDC

No

MoureenOsoru

Arua Woman

NRM

No

James Kakooza

Kabula

Independent

No

RobinahRwakoojo

Gomba East

NRM

Yes

Silas Aogon

Kumi Municipality

Independent

No

Joshua Anywarach

Padyere

Independent

No

Franca Akello

Agago Woman)

FDC

No

Matthias Mpuuga

Masaka Municipality

DP

No

Gilbert Olanya

Kilak South

FDC

No

Sam Byibesho

Kisoro Municipality

NRM

No

Vincent Woboya

Budadiri East

NRM

Yes

Atkins Katusabe

Bukonzo West

FDC

No

Annet Nyakecho

Tororo North

Independent

No

Patrick Isiagi

Kachumbala

NRM

No

Robert Kasolo

Iki-Iki

NRM

Yes

Gerald Karuhanga

Ntungamo municipality

Independent

No

Kato Lubwama

Rubaga South

Independent

No

Bernard Atiku

Ayivu

Independent

No

LyandroKomakech

Gulu Municipality

DP

No

Simon Lokodo

Dodoth

NRM

Yes

Santa Alum

Oyam Woman

UPC

No

William Nzoghu

Busongora North

FDC

No

Emmanuel Kigozi Ssempala

MakindyeSsaabagabo Municipality

DP

No

Moses Kasibante

Rubaga North

Independent

No

Charles AngiroGutmoi

Erute North

FDC

No

Muwanga Kivumbi

Butambala

DP

No

Joseph Ssewungu

Kalungu West

DP

No

Winfred Kiiza

Kasese Woman

FDC

No

Francis Zzake

Mityana Municipality

Independent

No

Allan Ssewanyana

Makindye West

DP

No

Florence Namayanja

Bukoto East

DP

No

Mary Babirye Kabanda

Masaka Woman

DP

No

Betty Nambooze

Mukono Municipality

DP

No

Veronica Nanyondo

Bukomansimbi Woman

DP

No

Solomon Silywanyi

Bukooli Central

NRM

No

Muhammad Nsereko

Kampala Central

Independent

No

Wilfred Niwagaba

Ndorwa East

Independent

No

Lucy Akello

Amuru Woman MP

FDC

No

Angel Mark Dulu

Adjumani East

NRM

No

John Baptist Nambeshe

Manjiya

NRM

No

Samuel Odonga Otto

Aruu

FDC

No

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