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Livelihood, Land And Investment

IGG blocks giveaway of Bugolobi children’s park

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KAMPALA. The Inspector General of Government (IGG) has warned Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) against giving away Kiswa Children’s Recreation Centre at Kataza in Bugolobi to a developer.

The contentious park, which measures 0.245 hectares, sits on Plot 17 Bunyonyi Drive, Kataza-Bugolobi road in Nakawa Division. It is the only children’s public park in the division.
The land was allegedly given away to Giga Reality Association despite earlier warning by the then IGG, Justice Faith Mwondah, in 2009 against the same.

On May 14, the deputy IGG, Mr George Bamugemereire, wrote to the KCCA executive director, Ms Jennifer Musisi, querying the manner in which the land had been allegedly given away.
“…this is to request you not to authorise any new developments on the said property until you have received further directions from this office,” reads in part the letter, also copied to Mr Moses Atwine, the KCCA director of physical planning.

Mr Bamugemereire’s letter, a copy also Daily Monitor has seen, was triggered by a petition by area leaders and residents who sought an inquiry into the alleged giveaway of the land, which they claim has caused uncertainty over the children’s park.
This land has been at the centre of controversy since 2006 when it was first leased out to Kashari-Buhweju Farmers Ltd.

On March 15, 2006, Kampala District Land Board (KDLB) gave a five- year initial lease to Kashari-Buhweju Farmers Ltd. After five years, this lease would be extended to 49 years.
According to documents, the firm would pay a premium of Shs10m to the then Kampala City Council (KCC) in Nakawa Division and ground rent of Shs200,000 per annum to KDLB, but this would be revisable every year.

Red flag
However, area residents raised the red flag over the transaction, claiming that the lease was fraudulently offered to the firm.
They petitioned the then IGG Justice Faith Mwondha in 2009, who directed the then KCC town clerk, Ms Ruth Kijjambu, to cancel the lease.
“…in line with the rescission of the lease, and the irregularities and fraudulent misrepresentations listed above, the Registrar of Titles is directed to cancel the certificate granted to Kashari-Buhweju Farmers Ltd,” Justice Mwondha wrote.

She also directed KCC should redevelop the land into a children’s park. Despite the IGG’s directive, Mr Moses Atwine, the current KCCA director of physical planning, okayed the redevelopment of the contested land to Giga Reality Association Ltd on February 3, 2016 hence sparking a protest from area leaders and residents.
According to Mr Atwine’s letter, Giga Reality Association Ltd would construct a chain link fence for one year.

Residents protest
This reporter has learnt that residents have since blocked Giga Reality Association Ltd from redeveloping the land until the matter is resolved by relevant authorities.
The residents want the land to be maintained as a children’s park.
“This is the only public park where our children could meet and play but efforts to recover it have since hit a snag because there are some influential government officials behind this deal,” said Mr Stephen Ssegawa, an area resident.

Mr Moses Okwera, the Nakawa II councillor, told Daily Monitor that it is unfair for the children’s recreational park to be given out to an investor without any justification.
“We want the IGG to get to the bottom of this matter because we can’t afford to lose this only public recreational park in Nakawa. We even chased away the developer who had fenced it off,” he said.

Investigation 
Mr Charles Ouma, the KCCA acting director of legal affairs, told the KCCA public accounts committee (Pac) recently, that the matter has since been reported to police for further investigations.
“The giveaway of that land in Kiswa is currently being probed by the Criminal Investigations Department at Kibuli and when the probe is done, we shall furnish this committee [Pac] with a report, but we are doing what we can to save public land,” he said.

Other Kampala recreational parks whose management has been queried by city leaders are Centenary Park, children’s park in Kamwokya, Jubilee gardens (Sheraton), Constitution Square and Railway grounds.

Report. Last year, KCCA public accounts committee released a report, which queried the manner in which city public land was given out. It stated that KCCA was losing a lot of revenue in land battles.

Source: Daily Monitor

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Livelihood, Land And Investment

Land grabs: Officials in Mubende district are colluding with economically powerful and politically connected people to grab local communities’ land.

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By Witness Radio Team

Justine Nakachwa (not her real name) had never thought of losing land she and her family had happily lived on for decades. Her dream of owning farmland had come true.

The land passed down to generations of descendants from the late 1970s was now being claimed by a renowned businessman. She got staggered.

“I was shocked by this news because I have spent most of my life here. Am wondering how he could acquire the land without the knowledge of the whole village.” She painfully revealed this while speaking to a Witness Radio-Uganda reporter.

The sixty-year-old is one of the community members of over 800 smallholder farmers in the three villages; Biwaalwe, Kabaale, and Kyagaranyi in Kanyogoga parish, Butologo sub-county in Mubende district currently facing eviction by Tubikaku Uganda Limited, a company owned by City businessman Desh Kananura.

The smallholder farmers have been practicing subsistence farming on this land to earn a living since the 1970s.

Intending to secure ownership and legalize it, they conducted a search and due diligence, which revealed that the land had no encumbrances.  In 2012, they applied for a lease. Sadly, the Mubende District Land Board declined to grant their request and instead awarded the lease of 906.4 hectares to a ghost company Tubikaku Uganda Limited.

The economically powerful and politically connected to grabbing the downtrodden land with the assistance of land board officials is rapidly growing in Uganda. With the aid of district land boards, cartels are increasingly disposing of smallholder farmers. This practice is now predominant in many districts in the country, especially Mubende district.

It is alleged that the District Land Board has previously leased people’s land to tycoons without following proper legal land acquisition procedures.

Seven years ago, a community’s land in Lwebigajji village in Mubende district of 226.5 hectares were grabbed by a local investor with the help of district land board officials. The community had lived on their land for over 30 years.

When the community showed interest in acquiring a leasehold on the land, the district land board of Mubende hurriedly offered the title to one Deo Semwogerere Mutyaba, a local businessman, who does not even own a decimal on the land.

Consequently, over 2000 families were affected. “In 2014, we requested the Mubende district lands board for a lease on this land, got surveyed using our efforts and resources, however upon returning the leasehold title in 2015, it had Semwogerere’s names as the owner of the land.” Grace Nantubiro, one of the community leaders said.

Samuel Wambi Mamali, a local businessman was also helped by the Mubende district land board officials to allegedly steal local community’s land covering three villages. These include Kyamukoona, Kijojolo, and Kalagala in Mubende District that have been occupied by locals for decades. The villages accommodate over 800 families.

The villagers indicated that Maamali fraudulently acquired a lease title he never applied for, did not consult community members on the land, nor at parish, or sub-county land committees that should have advised and guided on whether the land was lawfully being occupied and cultivated.

The few listed cases above are among several cases of grabbed land by wealthy and politically connected people in the Mubende district.  The trend of district land boards facilitating land grabs has left many local and indigenous communities landless.

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Livelihood, Land And Investment

A community of over 300 smallholder farmers conned as their land is sold to a local investor without their consent.

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By Witness Radio Team

As foreign agribusinesses take over Kiryandongo communities’ fertile land, other local investors are also eyeing the remaining land occupied by the poor families in the southwestern district of Uganda to grab their land.

A community of over 300 smallholder farmers in Ranch 22, Nyamuntende village in Kiryandongo district is being evicted by a local businessman Maseruka Robert who claims ownership of the land some have lived on for decades. Mr. Maseruka connived with some leaders in the community to grab land from the poor.

The evictions that started in August this year have caused the displacement of over 50 households so far on land measuring over 2000 acres without consultations or being fairly compensated. Crops belonging to residents, and houses were razed.

When evictions by multinationals soared in Uganda, the community acted swiftly to protect the interest on the land and avert a land grab. And in 2015, they applied for a lease of 49 years on the land from the Kiryandongo district land board which was granted to them.

However, unbeknownst to them, schemers would take advantage of this opportunity to grab their land. Earlier, the residents whose land is located on Ranch 22 Block 8 Bunyoro Ranching Scheme entrusted Wilson Sikhama, Ochema Richard, and a few other community members as their leaders in 2016 during the requisition of the land.

According to the residents, initially, the application processes unfolded as they had planned, however, Sikhama and Ochema allegedly connived with other people not known to the community to drop the names of some of the community members whom they had entrusted and replaced them with Julius Isingoma, Gerald Tumusiime, Messanger Gabriel Wabwire, Musokota William John and Simon Mwesige.

Residents further added that the land was titled in the names of the seven people who excluded the villagers. In 2019, when the community expected the location forms of the land per person, they understood that the land they had acquired was sold to one Maseruka Robert without their notification by Sikhama and the group.

In the same year 2019, the community ran to court seeking its intervention to regain the ownership of their land. The community was led by one of their own Mbabazi Samuel. In a blink of an eye, Mbabazi allegedly reached an agreement with the aforementioned group. On the 22nd of October 2020, he allegedly sold the said land to a group of people (Mr. Sikhama’s group) at One Hundred Million Shillings (100,000,000 equivalent to USD 26,483.79) without the approval of the community he represented.

After completion of the sale, the group of schemers sold the land to Maseruka who is now evicting the community.

In our interview with Maseruka, he failed to explain how he acquired the land but, insisted that he wanted the community to leave his land. “These people should leave my land because I want to use it, this is my land.” He maintained.

Some of the evictees whose houses were destroyed had relocated to their neighbors’ homes for fear of what would befall them. A 42-year-old widow and a mother of 10 said Maseruka’s accomplices destroyed her house leaving her destitute.

“These people wanted to give me 700,000/= (185.39) for the 15 acres of my land. When I resisted, they began destroying what they found including my house. They told me the money they were giving me was enough for me to vacate.” She explained.

The chairperson of the affected community, Mushija Caleb said his people are being forcefully evicted because they refused the peanuts given to them as compensation. He reiterated that his people don’t want to leave their land.

“They should not think of compensation irrespective of the amounts they are willing to offer because people are not interested in surrendering their land,” he added.

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Accountable Development To Communities

A self-claimed landlord who caused the imprisonment of six community land rights defenders on false charges was aligned before the court and charged with 28 counts.

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Naava while entering court cells at  Mubende.

By Witness Radio Team

A magistrate court at Mubende has charged a self-claimed landlord with 28 counts plus murder. Naava Milly Namutebi caused the arrest of six community land rights defenders, falsely accused them of murder, and got imprisoned for three years without trial. 

Naava’s appearance before the court followed shortly after the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) dropped murder charges against six community land rights defenders. These include; Tumusiime Benjamin, Bagirana Innocent, Habana Domoro, Miyingo Gerald, Byangaramani Charles, and Byekwaso Fred.

Naava was charged along with Bulasio Musoke, Richard Mugagga, Henry Kaaya, among others. They were not allowed to answer any charges as the court had no power to make legal decisions and judgments on charges read to them.

The prosecution alleges that Naava and others still at large, committed offenses in areas of Mubende and Kampala districts between 2006 and 2021.

From 2012 to date, Naava got help from the senior army, police, and other public officers in Mubende orchestrated violence and committed human rights violations/abuses while forcefully evicting over 4,000 people off their land. 

The land being targeted measures 3.5 square miles covering villages including Kirwanyi central, Kirwanyi East, Kirwanyi West, Nakasagazi, Kituule A, Kituule B, Kibalagazi A, Kibalagazi B, Kakkanembe, Bukyambuzi A, Bukyambuzi B, Kisende, Mulanda, Kituule central, Kirwanyi A, and Butayunja in Kirwanyi and Kituule parishes in Butoloogo Sub County in Mubende district.

Naava and others accused were remanded to Kaweeri prison until 19th/July/2022. 

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