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Coffee investor accused of evicting 400 peasants



  • Written by joomlasupport

Mubende-based Kaweri Coffee Plantation Ltd. is embroiled in controversy after its parent company, the Neumann Kaffee Gruppe (NKG) of Hamburg, Germany, was accused of unlawfully evicting peasants from their land.

The complaint against NKG was filed by a German NGO, FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN), that faults NKG for violating the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines that govern the behaviour of multinational companies.

FIAN said that the complaint was filed on behalf of 400 small-scale farmers in Madudu sub-county, Mubende, who were allegedly, forced to vacate their land without adequate compensation. The land in question was subsequently leased to Kaweri by the government.The case was lodged on 15th June 2009 via the OECD contact at Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics in Berlin.

Sandra Ratjen, FIAN’s Advocacy and International Policies Coordinator told The Observer that, “the complaint was a response to the lack of success-seeking legal remedies before national courts in Uganda, as well as to the unsuccessful attempt to dialogue and find [an] out-of-court agreement with the company.”

Illegal displacement

 NKG acquired the 11.6 square miles of contested land from the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) on a 99-year lease, and the plantation was inaugurated by President Yoweri Museveni and Michael Neumann, Chairman of NKG, in August 2001.

However, advocacy group ActionAid International (Uganda), which works with the dispossessed farmers and first alerted FIAN to their plight, says that in the same month, over 2,000 people were forcibly evicted from the land and denied adequate compensation.

Evictions were allegedly, conducted by soldiers from a nearby army barracks led by Mubende’s then Resident District Commissioner. Residents from the villages of Keitemba, Luwunga, Kijunga and Kiryamakobe reportedly had their houses razed and property looted.

They lost their means of livelihood and are currently struggling to access adequate food, shelter, water, healthcare and education, FIAN said.

UIA rejection

“Neumann did not do anything wrong,” says Dr. Maggie Kigozi, Executive Director of Uganda Investment Authority. “The UIA bought that land from the landowner and the landowner had been the one to resettle the bona fide occupants, or squatters, or whatever you want to call them,” she said.

Kigozi admits that given the size of the land, and the conflicting claims over its earlier ownership, some people might feel they were poorly compensated, but the investment itself cannot be faulted.

“Neumann has invested in a large coffee plantation”, she said. “They produce high-end coffee, they have huge out-grower schemes. The township of Mubende, which used to be a miserable little town, is now booming, because so many people are now employed, either in the plantation, or they are benefiting from being out-growers.”

Still, many believe that the company’s actions have not translated into a fair deal for the aggrieved parties. “There were irregularities in [the] supposed compensation and relocation”, says Charles Businge, Country Director of ActionAid Uganda.

“There were failures to establish true facts regarding who were the occupants of the land before eviction. There were issues that led to forceful eviction by the army even before the notice period had elapsed. We think that if all these issues had been handled professionally, such a case would not have emerged.”


According to Ratjen, “Only 2% of the evictees have been compensated and even in their case, compensation is not adequate following national and international standards.” FIAN explains that the OECD – which is itself committed to promoting sustainable economic growth and democratic processes in market economies – has guidelines that require multinational enterprises to act responsibly in host countries by respecting human rights.

Thus, it believes NKG should have ensured such rights were guaranteed before concluding its contract with the Uganda government. Peter Kayiira, an evicted Madudu resident, today heads ‘Stand up and fight for your Rights’, a loose coalition of the 400 dispossessed farmers on whose behalf FIAN has filed its complaint.

In 2002, the coalition, supported by FIAN and ActionAid, moved to sue both the Uganda Government and NKG. “According to the Constitution and the laws, the land is still ours”, Kayira explains.

“So in that case, the restitution of our former holding is inevitable. He says the group is suing for damages incurred by the evictees as their houses were razed and property looted, as well as punitive costs should the court find the treatment meted out to them to have been malicious, while also claiming legal costs.

They are however, still open to out-of-court settlements that will allow them to legally re-settle on two square miles of the contested land and provide suitable compensation for livelihoods lost.

Kaweri adamant

Jeremy Hulme, the Managing Director of Kaweri Coffee Plantation Ltd appeared unaware of the complaint filed with the OECD, telling The Observer it was a matter that could only be dealt with by NKG’s legal office. He said that the company’s actions and impact simply do not warrant the legal suits brought against it. “We are entirely the innocent party,” said Hulme.

“We paid for and took possession of an unencumbered piece of land, so surely, it is up to those that sold that land, to deliver such. We have no case, as far as we’re concerned, to answer.”

He added that Kaweri grows Robusta coffee over on 1,800 hectares, processes roughly 1,500 tons per year (much of it for export), and is the only substantial producer of ‘Uganda washed robusta’ in the country.

Moreover, it claims to employ some 250 permanent staff, and between 800 to 1,500 seasonal workers.  Ratjen agrees the Uganda government must primarily address the case as it has a duty to protect its citizens under international law.

However, “This does not mean that the company has no responsibility towards the respect of human rights when it invests abroad. NKG cannot pretend that it could not appreciate the impact of the establishment of the plantation on the lives of the forcibly evicted people.

The eviction itself took place to enable the project of the company.”  On its part, UIA is concerned, but not unduly worried by this latest controversy to embroil one of its most cherished foreign investors.

“The OECD will listen to both sides of the story”, Kigozi states. “They are not about to make decisions based on rumours.”

Accountable Development To Communities

Breaking: Three community land rights defenders from Kawaala have been arrested.



Old kampala police where defenders were arrested from .

Breaking: Three community land rights defenders from Kawaala have been arrested.

By Witness Radio team

Police at Old Kampala Regional Police Headquarter have arrested three of the six community land rights defenders from Kawaala Zone II, Kampala suburb, and preferred a fraud charge before being released on bond.

Kasozi Paul, Busobolwa Adam, and Kabugo Micheal got arrested on their arrival before being taken inside interrogation rooms. They were questioned from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM local time and later recorded their statements.

Section 342 of the Penal Code states that forgery is the making of a false document with the intent to defraud or deceive. It carries a three year imprisonment on conviction.

According to lawyers representing victims, defenders are arrested on the orders of the Deputy Resident City Commissioner (RCC) in charge of Rubaga Division Anderson Burora and accused them of fraud.

Resident City Commissioner is a representative of the president in the Capital City at the division level.

The charges are a result of continued resistance by Kawaala community seeking fair compensation and resettlement before Lubigi drainage channel is constructed. Since the first COVID outbreak in 2020, the victim defenders and others have been leading a pushback campaign to stop forced evictions by a multimillion dollars Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project (KIIDP-2) funded by World Bank. Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is the implementor of the project.

This project first impacted Kawaala Zone II around 2014, when a channel diversion was constructed. The current planned expansion will widen that channel and require forced evictions across an area at least 70 meters wide and 2.5 km long.

The New Vision, a local daily of June 21st, 2022, quoted Burora accusing Kasozi Paul, one of the community land rights defenders from Kawaala Zone II of being a fraudster.

Witness Radio – Uganda challenges the deputy RCC Burora to produce evidence that pins the defenders on fraud instead of criminalizing the work of defenders.

“We warn Mr. Burora against using police to harass defenders who have openly opposed a project which is causing negative impacts on the community” Adong Sarah, one of the lawyers representing the defenders said.

The defenders got released on police bond as they are expected to report back to the police on Monday, the 18th of July 2022 at 11:00 AM local time.


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Accountable Development To Communities

Signs of harmful projects with financing from development institutions are spotted in Uganda…



By Witness Radio Team.

The growth of a country is discerned by great leaders and innovators who see opportunities out of darkness and transform their areas from nothing to success. Those are great leaders whose interest is to see the developments in their countries and the well-being of their citizens.

Every single day, countries all over the world receive investors that acquire loans, grants, and donations to implement mega projects that are seemingly expected to develop host countries. countries and investors borrowing the money Often, countries and investors portray how these projects improve the livelihood of the browbeaten, au contraire, they have left many broken families, poor-dirty homesteads, and shattered dreams.

Uganda is one of those countries, whose citizens have paid a price for reckless or unsupervised and profit-led international investment. In a bid to implement its industrial policy, the country has welcomed both foreign and local investors with interests in the fields of extraction, industrial agriculture, carbon credit tree plantation, mining, infrastructural projects, and many others.

It has received billions of dollars from different financiers including commercial banks, Pension Funds, and International Development Finance Banks or institutions, among others. For instance, the World Bank has invested more than 20 Billion Dollars since 1963 and currently

Every project comes with its own chilling story. More often their stories are unheard by the World. Witness Radio – Uganda surveyed some projects in Uganda. This study revealed agony, illegal evictions, abject poverty, environmental degradation, and loss of life among others, as some of the consequences suffered by the would-be beneficiaries of these international funded projects across the country.

In the capital of Uganda, Kampala, over 1750 families were forcefully evicted from a city suburb, Naguru, for Naguru- Nakawa housing estates.  11 years down the road the project that was highly hyped is to take off on the grabbed land. Pleas from the victims of the eviction to regain their land have all fallen on deaf ears.

About 80km away from Kampala is the island district of Kalangala surrounded by the World’s second-largest lake, Victoria, and known for palm growing. When the palm-oil project was introduced to residents they were given the impression that it would improve their livelihoods and create job opportunities.  Instead, it has dumped thousands into poverty after their land was grabbed by BIDCO, a Wilmer international-funded project. People lost land and now work on plantations as casual laborers. The neighboring communities are accusing BIDCO workers of sexual and gender-based violence.

In the South-Western District of Kiryandongo, multinational companies including Agilis Partners Limited, Kiryandongo Sugar Limited, and Great Seasons SMC Limited with funding from The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), The Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom, and Common Fund for Commodities among other financiers are forcefully evicting more than 35,000 people. The eviction has been on since 2017.

Workers that worked on a World Bank Project in Soroti, in the far east of the country, are accused of sexually harassing minors. Several young girls were defiled and left pregnant. Despite the government being aware of this none of the pedophiles have been brought to book, the World Bank-funded project in the Eastern Town of Soroti left several underage girls defiled and impregnated.

In late 2020, residents of Kawaala zone II woke up to the hail of armed men and graders evicting and destroying their properties to implement a multimillion-dollar project funded by the World Bank. The project is being implemented by the Kampala Capital city Authority (KCCA) on behalf of the government of Uganda.

The above-listed and other projects, on the other hand, continue to perpetuate violence and judicial harassment against leaders of Project Affected Persons (PAPs) and community land and environmental rights defenders because of their work that resists illegal evictions and destruction of the environment among others.

Although project implementers such as government entities accuse local communities of occupying land targeted for projects illegally, in most cases victim communities have rights over these pieces of land because their settlement on the same land can be traced to have happened generations ago.

No matter how people are negatively impacted being by these harmful projects, financiers continue to release more money to the government and investors. The banks aim at profit margins other than the livelihoods of the people. In Bulebi village, Mbazi parish, Mpunge Sub County in Mukono district, Akon’s futuristic city is about to lead to the eviction of over 1000 residents whose entire lives have been built on their land.

In April last year, American rapper Aliaune Damala Badara well known for his stage name AKON visited Uganda in search of land for constructing the city. On the same business trip, he met President Museveni Yoweri Kaguta and expressed his interest in building a futuristic city with its currency. The president ordered the Ministry of Lands, housing, and urban development to look out for free land for his city.

However, on 7th Jan 2022, the Uganda Land Commission showed the Minister for Lands, Housing, and Urban Development “Hon Judith Nabakooba” land that was proposed for the Akon city. According to the Uganda land commission, the land is Freehold Volume 53 Folio 9 measuring I square mile.

This has sparked outrage amongst the affected as they were never consulted or consented to allow the project in their community. According to community members that Witness Radio interviewed, they said they heard the distressing news of Akon city through the Media.

The community said no official from the ministry has ever approached them about their land giveaway. “Our country is full of land evictions and evictors begin in that way. There has been no official coming on the ground to officially inform us about the project and neither have we heard any official communication of compensation.” Obori said.

Residing in the attractive village surrounded by freshwaters, the community asserts this has been the source of livelihood and advised the government to get alternative land for the City.

Controversies surrounding the land giveaway and ownership of the area still exist. A section of residents have protested and vowed not to surrender their land for the City. They claim to have acquired freehold titles from the Mukono lands board.

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Accountable Development To Communities

Breaking: over 350,000 acres of land were grabbed during Witness Radio – Uganda’s seven months ban.



By Witness Radio Team.

As the onslaught on civil society heightens, its space continues to shrink which has bearing on the services they render to the communities. Witness Radio, was among the 54 organizations suspended by Uganda’s National Bureau for Nongovernmental Organizations on August 20th, 2021. The actions are amongst the recent forms of attack on civil societies in Uganda. Other numerous attacks include arrests of rights activists, harassment, tortures, and office- break-ins at night by security operatives who move away with valuables.

The effects of this suspension were felt by communities facing land grabs across the country. For seven months while the organization was suspended, over 300,000 people were evicted from their land and couldn’t access specialized and prompt legal assistance.

Witness Radio Uganda, globally known for its campaign against community land-grabs couldn’t assist these victims of land grab since it risked facing further sanctions from the Bureau in case it intervened. However, last week, there was some relief, when Uganda’s National Bureau for NGOs lifted suspension and certified its operation.

According to Mrs. Bulyerali Joan, the Head Legal at Witness Radio – Uganda, the organization conducted a review of the evictions that happened during the suspension. With information and assistance from some lawyers, local journalists, and community land and environmental rights defenders across the country, the evictions watchdog was able to document cases of hundreds of thousands of Ugandans that were either forcefully evicted or received threats of evictions while in its limbo.

The ban imposed on Witness Radio coupled with the disruptive impacts of COVID- 19 resulted in the surge of eviction cases, especially in areas where the organization had a presence. Throughout the ban, without access to swift and prompt legal support, the communities resorted to sharing with the world their ordeal.

She further noted that the evictions were conducted in disregard of the law on evictions. “I was shocked to see powerful people and companies take advantage of our suspension to escalate the evictions of vulnerable communities that received our assistance. The evictions did not comply with the land eviction practice directives. None of them was preceded by legal court orders.”  She noted.

According to the Land Eviction directives, issued by the former Chief Justice of Uganda, Bart Katureebe, evictions shall be preceded by valid court order, properly identifying the persons taking part in the eviction, and upon presentation of formal authorizations. The police and local authority of the area shall be notified and shall be present to witness the evictions, among others.

Based on the data gathered by the team, various communities across the country were left dispossessed by land grabbers without any form of assistance. Others have received threatening messages with intentions of dispossessing them off their land.

During the period under review, over 300,000 people across the country are believed to have been threatened with evictions, while 350,000 acres of land were either grabbed or on verge of being grabbed.

“However much, we gathered this information, we expect the cases to be higher because some evictions go unreported either due to the remoteness of the areas or other related factors.” One of the collaborators observed.

The evictions were extremely violent.  They were characterized by kidnaps, arrests and detentions, torture that often-caused unexpected grief to the communities.

Among the most affected districts include Kyankwanzi, Mubende, Kassanda, Hoima, Buikwe, Wakiso, Kikuube, and Bulambuli districts.

In some of the mentioned districts, the Lands, Housing, and Urban Development Minister toured and halted the evictions but the evictors continued unabated.

Mr. Kimazi Experito, a journalist based in Mubende, attributed the rise of evictions to the organization’s suspension which denied the evictions-affected communities access to specialized legal assistance.

He said Witness Radio has offered support to over 20 land-grab-affected communities in Mubende with legal support. “Witness radio is a game-changer that brought back lives of evicted communities to normal,” he lauded.

“Mubende is one of the fastest-growing areas because of gold and other minerals as well as factors related to fertile soils. Currently, it is one of the hotspots of evictions. Opportunists used this chance to grab land from people with full attention. Without the defenders, it’s often hard for people to get justice since local people are not much informed about land laws.” Kimazi explained.

Engineered by powerful people in public offices, multinational companies, and politicians using state machinery including the army and national police, forced evictions to continue to affect food sovereignty and threaten the role of indigenous communities to protect the environment.

During the same period, President Yoweri Museveni stopped any eviction without the approval of the Resident District Commissioners. However, legal experts warned that the move is to usurp the powers of the Judiciary. In a statement signed by Pheona Nabasa Wall, the Uganda Law Society President noted that the directive undermined the role and independence of courts in handling eviction matters.

That notwithstanding, “Occasionally, the residents are not given any opportunity to negotiate with the landlords. Even when the government obliges to pay landowners, neither does the government nor the evictor compensate for the damaged property. During evictions, properties that were made for their life end up being destroyed in seconds which causes lifetime misery.” Paul Kasoozi, a community land rights defender stated.

With different tactics aimed at alienating the poor from their land, it has been established that the police and the army continued to play a huge role in the largest forms of violent evictions through torture, arbitrary arrests, and detention and instilling fear and pressurizing the local communities to vacate their land on orders of the evictors.

Many of those community members who oppose land evictions end up being kidnapped, tortured, or arrested and detained to silence the community. It takes support from an organization defending communities’ land rights to intervene for such communities to get justice.

Days before the lifting of the suspension imposed on Witness Radio, communities neighboring the Katta Barracks in Bulambuli district, were violently evicted by the Uganda People’s Defense Forces under the alleged command of Lieutenant Colonel Mukiibi Julius without offering alternative resettlement.

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