Uganda: Youth Accuse District Leaders of Grabbing Land

11 January 2019

Youth in Namutumba District have accused the former district chairperson, Mr Michael Saire, and a section of councillors of conniving with unidentified developers to grab their land totaling to five acres.

The youths, led by Mr Abdul Nabongho, on Monday alleged that Mr Saire and district councillors grabbed the land in Namutumba Town Council opposite Namutumba Victoria Primary School on Mbale-Tirinyi Road.

The youth's remarks come after their efforts to set up income-generating projects on the said land hit a dead end after leaders stopped them from accessing it.

"We recently surveyed the land and found out that it was divided into plots, with private developers constructing rentals while part of it was given to Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) as a donation to set up mosques and a health unit," Mr Nabongho said.

He added: "We had planned to plant mangoes and oranges on the five acres under the Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) programme but we failed."

Arrest and prosecute

The youths are subsequently demanding for the arrest and prosecution of whoever was involved in grabbing the said land.

Daily Monitor has learnt that the land in contention was bought in 1996 under the stewardship of then Busiki County Member of Parliament (MP), the late Basoga Nsadhu.

According to Mr Eria Kasisa, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) youth chairperson for Magada Sub-county, after the passing on of Nsadhu, the district leadership -- including area MPs -- lobbied for a technical institute from government.

The institute was later named Basoga Nsadhu Technical Institute.

While looking for land to construct the institute in 2013, the district council proposed the five acres of [youth] land which had been bought to house both the institute and youth centre.

In January 2014, Mr Kasisa added, the district council failed to reach a consensus with the then youth leadership while trying to persuade them to allow the institute be constructed on the land. However, the land proved to be small enough to accommodate both entities, prompting the district leaders to allocate 12 acres of land in Kaiti Village for the construction of the technical institute.

"We demand to know who granted Mr Saire and councillors in the 9th Council permission to sell youth land. As youth, we are concerned and failure to get our land back, we shall petition the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and the Lands probe," Mr Kasisa said.

Mr Saire, however, said he knows nothing about grabbing and selling the said land.

"When I was the district chairperson, the district council donated part of the land to the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council to set up a mosque and a health unit. I only allocated part of the land to Uganda Muslim Supreme Council and not private investors. Whoever is occupying the land should produce documents of ownership showing the buyer and the seller," he said.

"The right person to ask about that land is the district chairperson, Hajj Saleh Kumbuga, because I handed over everything to him," he added.

Hajj Kumbuga, however, said issues concerning who sold youth land should be forwarded to the district youth leadership because it is them who know what happened and are answerable.

Mr Peter Wakirwaine, who spearheaded the collection of money to buy the said land in 1996, said the land was purposely bought to set up developmental projects which failed to take off.

"I do not recall how much money the land was bought at but by then, I was the LC4 chairperson. We collected money and bought land. After my departure, we handed over the land to the district and what followed after my tenure, I am not answerable," he said on Wednesday.

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