Uganda: Gen Otafiire, Businessman Fight Over Munyonyo Land

The Internal Affairs minister-designate, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, and Mr Amdan Khan, a businessman, are locked in a fight over a nine-acre piece of land in Munyonyo near Kampala.

The wrangle took a dramatic twist on Thursday last week when Maj Gen Otafiire allegedly ordered his military guards to destroy an under-construction structure on the disputed plot.

The land is close to the Martyrs Shrine in Munyonyo and overlooks Lake Victoria.

Both parties have counter-accused each other at Katwe police, which is investigating the case.

Each has opened a case against the other, claiming to be the rightful owner of the land.

Mr Khan claims that he bought the land at Shs2,000 from a one Afanasic Temaligwe in 1979, and he has owned it for decades as a kibanja holder.

On the other hand, Maj Gen Otafiire claims that he is a mailo owner of the land, which he bought in 2011 from Christopher Obey, the jailed former principal accountant in the Ministry of Public Service, who in turn acquired it from a one Geraldine in 1991.

Temaligwe has since passed on, and we were unable to access the records at the land registry to establish the actual owner.

Police in Katwe are already investigating a case criminal trespass and malicious damage of property lodged by Mr Khan against Maj Gen Otafiire.

Detectives said the Internal Affairs minister-designate recorded a statement in his defence, but counter-registered a case of criminal trespass against Mr Khan. Mr Khan is a resident of Munyonyo, Mulungo Zone.

"I told Kahinda Otafiire that if he knows that the land belongs to him, let him file a case against me at police or court and we face the law," he said yesterday.

Mr Khana filed a case at Katwe Police Station last Thursday when soldiers, allegedly acting on the orders of the minister-designate, knocked down the wall of the house he was building on the plot. By the time police reached the scene, the soldiers had already left.

Mr Luke Owoyesigyire, the Kampala Metropolitan deputy police spokesperson, said Maj Gen Otafiire went to Katwe Police Station and recorded a statement, but counter-accused Mr Khan after presenting documents he said proved his ownership of the land.

"All files were fully investigated and ... they have been taken to the resident state attorney for legal advice," he said.

Mr Yassin Sserunjoji, the Munyonyo Mulungo Village chairman, said the Mr Khan is the known owner of the land.

"For all the time since 1979, we know that Mr Amdan Khan bought this land from Afanasic Temaligwe who also died a long time ago. But recently, we heard that Otafiire was claiming the same land, saying he bought it from Christopher Obey, who is in Luzira Prison."

Speaking at the commemoration of Heroes Day on June 8 at Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala, President Museveni said Mailo land tenure is evil and should be dismantled.

"This Mailo (land) system is very bad and I don't know why the Baganda support it, but it is very bad. It is an evil system; it is not fair and it is not in other parts of Uganda. In Ankole, it is not there," he said.

Mr Museveni expressed particular disapproval of the Mailo land tenure, one of four land holdings provided under the Constitution, for alleged rampant evictions of Bibanja holders, including by absentee landlords. The other tenures are customary, leasehold and freehold.

Mailo land is only found in Buganda and it originates from British colonial officials measuring land in square miles to reward royalties and local agents.

"It's not a fair system. In other parts of Uganda, when you are on a kibanja, it's your kibanja, but here (in Buganda), you find these people support [it], " the President said.

What Otafiire says

When contacted, Maj Gen Otafiire rejected Mr Khan's claims, saying: "What you should have asked him is whether he has the title for that land, and if he claims that he is a kibanja holder, can he present receipts showing payments of rent to the previous owner of the land because the evidence of the Kibanja is payment of rent." He argued that if Mr Khan bought kibanja in 1979, he should already have been compensated in 1991.

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