8 August 2018

Uganda: Land Probe - I Acted On Museveni's Orders, Says Namuganza

Photo: Gaël Grilhot/RFI
Uganda President Yoweri Museveni

Kampala — The State Minister for Lands, Ms Persis Namuganza, has told the land probe commission that she was instructed by President Museveni on how to handle a case involving a disputed piece of land in Mubende District.

The ownership of the disputed three-square mile land in Butoroogo and Madudu sub-counties is a subject of the ongoing investigations before the land commission.

Appearing before the commission yesterday, Ms Namuganza testified that she was directed to carry out a fact-finding mission and report to the President following complaints raised during a September 2017 radio talk show in which Mr Museveni hosted with other political leaders.

"The President instructed me and the former Inspector General of Police (IGP) [Kale Kayihura] knowing that the commission of inquiry is there. I took assignment from the President under the law," Ms Namuganza said.

She added that her intervention was only intended to resolve a dispute between landlords and tenants (Bibanja holders) and not ownership wrangles.

Ms Namuganza said the President, who chaired the meeting at State House, gave her directions on how to handle the case and that he promised to resolve it himself.

On land sale

About the purported land sale, the minister reported that the complainants asked the President for government to buy the land so that they can settle peacefully and register able ownership as well as prevailing upon the armed personnel who were being used to evict people.

Ms Namuganza dismissed claims that the meeting was aimed at causing payment for compensation of the land, saying the process is well laid out in the laws.

Accused of misleading the President by presenting incompetent cases, the minister said: "I cannot stop the President from meeting people."

"I am being penalised for taking people to meet the Head of State. The complaint before the President is in regard to a dispute between a family and the tenants," Ms Namuganza said before inviting the land probe to write formally to the President informing him about the matter.

It is alleged that Ms Namuganza in collusion with her counterpart, Ms Benny Namugwanya (State Minister for Kampala), mobilised and led claimants of the disputed land to the State House meeting to cause a compensation.

Ms Namuganza was also named for having led purported landlords with other people to State House to claim compensation.

Other queries

Ms Namuganza was also questioned for allegedly failing to perform her duty in line with the law, misleading the President on the case, interfering with the land inquiry work, obstruction of justice by refusing witnesses to attend to commission summons and demeaning the commission. Commission chairperson Catherine Justice Bamugemereire said the matter of the minister undermining their work will be brought to before the appointing authority.

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