Kampala — The presidential adviser on Security and Defence Affairs, Maj Gen Proscovia Nalweyiso, yesterday blamed the Church of Uganda for neglecting its land in Ntawo Village, Mukono District, leading to encroachment.
Gen Nalweyiso is named among high-ranking government officials who are accused of occupying part of the 640 acre-church land registered under Uganda Christian University (UCU) Holdings Limited, an investment arm of the Church.
Others include State Minister for water Ronald Kibuule, former MP Anthony Mukasa, Mr Moses Male Byekwaso, the LC chairperson, also accused of mobilising squatters against the Church and the university officials, Retired soldier Musinguzi Kazayi and area defence secretary Robert Wasswa.
The government officials, jointly with hundreds of settlers, are accused of entering the disputed land without the consent of the Church and constructed houses, among other developments.
Appearing before the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire-led commission of inquiry into land matters, Gen Nalweyiso admitted settling on the land since childhood but accused the church of neglecting its land, citing the inability to monitor and develop its property.
"This land is strategically located near Kampala but the landlords (Church) do not know what is on their land. In the 1970s, the Church attempted to compensate settlers on one side of the land and left others but after that, they failed to develop the land which attracted those compensated to return and occupy the land. This also caused others to come and settle and have since multiplied," Gen Nalweyiso said. She attributed the spark of the dispute to a gap between the legal framework and the local administration system in the area.
Asked about the 2016 violent attack against the bishops, Gen Nalweyiso blamed the Church administration.
"I blame the Church for the chaos because they went to the land without security. but what hurts me is to mention my name among those who incited the violence...yet I was away for duty. I cannot support violence and demonstrations against anybody," she testified.
According to the UCU Vice Chancellor, Dr John Ssenyonyi, Mr Peter Mulira, a lawyer who represents the family, claims that the Church ownership of the land was a mere lease of 99 years.
Dr Ssenyonyi said Mr Mulira was challenging the Church's ownership by incitements through the media and the squatters.
He also accused the Mukono Agricultural Research Centre under Naro of refusing to vacate their land upon expiry of their 49-year lease.
He testified that efforts to have the government agency vacate their land to allow them develop it have been rendered futile and that in the result, Uganda Land Commission sued the university and the Church challenging the eviction.
At the previous sitting, Mr Byekwaso admitted having approved transactions for sale of numerous plots of land belonging to the Uganda Christian University (UCU) at Ntawo Village in Mukono District.
Mr Byekwaso, the chairman of Ntawo Village in Mukono said that he also owns five plots of land which he acquired freely from a village elder identified as Sam Jjingo.
Mr Byekwaso was quizzed over his involvement in criminal acts including threatening violence against bishops in 2016, illegal acquisition of plots, inciting violence against the university, making sale agreements on behalf of land holders and creating confusion to frustrate dialogue on land.
Evidence presented before the Commission shows that the land was donated to the Church under Bishop Tucker College in 1939 by late Ham Mukasa, a grandfather to Mr Mulira who is accused of inciting squatters to rebel against the Church ownership and claiming for the land.
Sitting at the National Records and Archives Center at Wandegeya near Kampala, the Commission is investigating into the processes and procedures by which land is administered and registered as well as the role and effectiveness of the relevant bodies.