Uganda: Lands Minister Faults Partial Pay of Landlords

Attempts by government to resolve the land ownership problem in Nakasongola District through compensation of landlords is under scrutiny by both the Lands ministry and the district leaders.

In 2019, the government through the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) embarked on a plan to compensate some of the absentee landlords in Nakasongola Districts where more than 85 per cent of residents are believed to be tenants and many face evictions.

Several of the landlords that reportedly received half payments from the ULC as part of the compensation plan have reportedly turned against the tenants, while others are demanding fresh negotiations on compensation.

Lands minister Judith Nabakoba last Saturday, while meeting a section of leaders at the disputed land areas in Kalongo Sub-county, faulted the compensation system.

"I believe that we should now have a compensation plan where the selected landlords are fully compensated to avoid clashes with tenants. It is true that the funds availed to the Land Commission for compensation of the landlords is still small, but payments in bits compromises the system," she said.

Ms Nabakoba said government is looking at the total automation of the land transactions at different offices of the Lands registry to minimise cases of fraud.

"One way of minimising multiple titles, including cases of fraud at the Lands ministry is ensuring 100 per cent automation to avoid face-to-face interaction of people who partly compromises the system," she said.

In 2018, the government embarked on the compensation plan for several landlords, but this has not been concluded.

"We have a case of Kigejo land where government reportedly paid Mr Nicholas Jjemba, the landlord, more than Shs250m, but the same landlord collected Shs60m from the same tenants. The tenants are now confused and have never received their respective land titles. The government should have a full compensation plan," Nakasongola County MP Noah Mutebi said.

Mr Mutebi told Ms Nabakoba that In Nakasongola, where absentee landlords own more than 85 per cent of the land, the government should have a special fund allocated to the ULC for compensation process.

The chairperson of Nakasongola District, Mr Sam Kigula, said the district has become a hot bed of land conflicts.

"The landlords have totally refused to internalise the Amended Land Act 2010 that spells out their obligation. It is not true that the Bibanja holders have no rights on their respective plots. We need a special land court to help our people in Nakasongola District," he said.

Petition

Recently, residents of Kiswera Village who occupy land on Block 173, Plot 18, measuring about 110.581 hectares in Kalongo Sub-county through the district leaders petitioned government after allegations that the landlord had fenced off their respective land. They claimed their families have occupied the land for more than 40 years. The more than 100 households claimed the landlords defied the presidential directive on evictions during the Covid lockdown and destroy gardens and fence off plots of land before the district security committee intervened on July 10.

Related

Mr Stanley Ndibadawa, one of the affected residents from Kiswera Village, in a brief interview with Sunday Monitor, appealed to the government to rein in the stubborn landlords.

"Our landlord refused the nominal ground rates including our attempts to purchase the land. The landlord has since fenced off our farming land," he said.

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