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Kabarole struggling to operate without land board

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Kabarole, Uganda | Kabarole district is unable to process land titles and resolve other land related matters due to the absence of a land board. It follows the expiry of the five year tenure of the substantive land board members in January this year.

In March, Kabarole district leadership sent the name of Cypriano Rwaheeru for reappointment as land board chairperson, Bob Kaganda, the former mayor Fort Portal municipality representative of urban council, Molly Florence Nyangoma, Christine Katwooki and Abel Karwanil as board members to Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development for approval.

However, URN has established that the ministry received a petition from Bishop Jimmy Katuramu, the head of the United Pentecostal Churches of Uganda in Fort Portal opposing the appointment of Kaganda and Nyangoma.  In his March 13th, 2020 petition, a copy of which our reporter has seen, Katuramu argues that both Nyangoma and Kaganda are from Fort Portal municipality which contravenes the Land Act that provides for one representative for the municipality.

“We would like to have more representation from the sub counties of Kabende, Kijura, Hakibale, Kasenda or Ruteete, which are very big but have no representation. These are predominantly Bakiga yet on the new members, there is no mukiga or mukonjo,” reads part of Katuramu’s petition.

Juma Hussein, a resident of Fort Portal also petitioned the Lands Ministry through his lawyers of Sanywa, Wabwire & Co. Advocates challenging the naming of Rwaheeru for appointment to the board. In his March 10th, 2020 petition, Hussein states that on February 6, 2020, he wrote to Kabarole Chief Administrative Officer – CAO, Phiona Sanyu asking her to interdict Rwaheeru after being charged with forgery in the Fort Portal Grade One Magistrate’s court.

“What is equally surprising is that on the 6th day of March 2020, upon receipt of our complaint over the interdiction of Mr. Rwaheeru Cyprian, the district executive committee of Kabarole district sat and decided to renew Mr Rwaheeru Cyprian’s contract as the chairman Kabarole district land board,” reads part of the petition.

He argues that Rwaheeru isn’t suitable to hold the office because of the pending charges against him and shouldn’t be approved until the courts of law clear him. As a result of the petition, Dorcus Okalany, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Lands has written to the CAO informing her that the proposed land board members have been rejected partly because of the petitions.

She also notes that the creation of Fort Portal tourism city means that the names that had been submitted to represent it while it was still a municipality and under Kabarole district have to be dropped and the process started afresh to find new members. She also advised that according to the Land Act, the District Land Board should consist of a minimum of five members including a chairperson, one member representing municipal councils, one member representing urban councils and one member from each county in the district.

“We have perused your file and names of members submitted have been overtaken by events and we request that you submit following the criteria above as we have observed that Kabarole is left with one county and four town councils,” reads part of Okalany’s letter.

It is against this background that the district has to date failed to have a land board leading to a backlog of requests for land titles and other tasks that are supposed to be performed by the board.  Angela Byangwa, the executive director Rwenzori Anti-Corruption Coalition says that she applied for a land tittle about seven months ago and has never got any response.

Byangwa notes that it is so frustrating and time consuming that a person can take so long to get a land title even after getting through a lengthy process simply because the district lacks a land board. The out-going deputy CAO Kabarole, Emmanuel Ssempala says there are dozens of applications for land tittles from the public but they cannot process them without a land board.

He says that as a way forward, they are considering requesting a land board from a neighboring district to handle the applications as they start the process of forming a new board. Kabarole district LCV chairperson, Richard Rwabuhinga blames the lands ministry for the lack of a land board saying there is no reason why they would submit names for approval in March and get a response at the end of July.

Rwabuhinga argues that if they had got a response on time, they would have already submitted new names. According to the 1998 Uganda Land Act, the functions of the district land board include holding and allocating land in the district which is not owned by any person or authority.

The others are to facilitate the registration and transfer of interests in land; take over the role and exercise the powers of the lessor in the case of a lease granted by a former controlling authority; and cause surveys, plans, maps, drawings and estimates to be made by or through its officers or agents.

Original Post: Independent Uganda

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Two Witness Radio members, 26 others have been released on bail after spending close to 3 years in jail…

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By witnessradio.org Team

Mubende – Uganda – the High Court in Mubende has released two Witness Radio members and 26 others on bail after spending 28 months in prison. In late 2018, all the 28 were targeted and arrested because of their role in empowering the community to lawfully desist an illegal eviction, charged with 9 counts including murder and aggravated robbery, and remanded.

This was the second bail attempt after the 2019 bail for two Witness Radio members Grace Nantubiro and Ronald Mugwabya was rejected by the then Mubende High Court resident Judge Justice Joseph Murangira on pretty flimsy excuses.

Before the arrest of Grace Nantubiro and Ronald Mugwabya, the duo had used the media platforms local radio stations, and community meetings to call upon Mubende district authorities to intervene and stop an illegal and forceful eviction of 3500 inhabitants off five villages namely; Kambuye, Kikono, Kyabaana, Kanseera, and Lwensanga in East Division in Mubende municipality by one Kaweesi George.

Also in the line of fighting for the protection of the community’s land, Grace Nantubiro, Ronald Mugwabya, and some members of the press at one point were waylaid and kidnapped by laborers of the businessman. Mubende police rescued them but the perpetrators remained scot-free.

Due to public pressure, the situation was arrested by the then Mubende district police commander Martin Okoyo and other leaders, stopped the eviction, and ordered the withdraw of the businessman’s casual laborers from the community’s land until the land matter is resolved.

Shortly after the withdrawal, the laborers were secretly returned on the conflicted land in the wee hours in the following night and a fight ensued between businessman’s laborers and some locals. In a process, the life of one Yunusu Tabu was lost. Tabu was a manager of laborers.

The deadly scuffle introduced the criminalization of land rights defense and caused a random arrest that targeted Grace Nantubiro and Ronald Mugwabya because of their work. Some of the activists namely; Mugisha Focus, Ssekamana Kaloli, Mwikirize Keleti, Ssewanyana Kizza John, Tumwine Moses, Bigirwa Gilbert, Mulindwa Tadeo, Kayesu Patrick, Kyalimpa Tobias, Mugisha Stephen, Mwesigye John, Kiiza John Bosco, Byakatonda Aroon, Manirikiza Elidefunce, Tabalamule William, Kobwemi Christopher,  Kiwanuka Emmanuel, Senkula Charles, Ssemombwe George, Musinguzi Paul, Biryomumisho Fred, Maniriho Forodis,  Habimana Ernest, Byaruhanga Emmanuel, Mwesigye Julius, and Kezaala Saul were severely beaten and tortured by Mubende police during the arrest and as result, some still have visible scars all over their bodies.

The ill-planned arrest and conduct by Mubende police facilitated a land grab of more than 322.5 hectares, registered on Block 168; Plots 19, 22, and 23 in Mubende Municipality, Mubende district.

While appearing before Mubende High Court Judge Justice Isaac Muwata, all the 28 were released on a cash bail of 100,000 Uganda Shillings (one hundred thousand shillings) equivalent to about US dollars 28 while sureties were conditioned UGX 2 million not cash.

Other conditions, the 28 are required to report to the Mubende High Court registrar’s chambers every first Monday of the month.

 

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Renewing demand for justice; the 28 land rights defenders have applied for bail

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By witnessradio.org Team

Mubende – Uganda – the defense lawyers of the 28 community land rights defenders have filed new applications for bail at Mubende High Court after spending 3 years in prison.

The 28 include two staff members of Witnessradio.org‘s Nantubiro Grace and Mugwabya Ronald.

Others are; Mugisha Focus, Ssekamana Kaloli, Mwikirize Keleti, Ssewanyana Kizza John, Tumwine Moses, Bigirwa Gilbert, Mulindwa Tadeo, Kayesu Patrick, Kyalimpa Tobias, Mugisha Stephen, Mwesigye John, Kiiza John Bosco, Byakatonda Aroon, Manirikiza Elidefunce, Tabalamule William, Kobwemi Christopher,  Kiwanuka Emmanuel, Senkula Charles, Ssemombwe George, Musinguzi Paul, Biryomumisho Fred, Maniriho Forodis,  Habimana Ernest, Byaruhanga Emmanuel, Mwesigye Julius and Kezaala Saul.

They are facing 9 counts including murder, and aggravated robbery among others.

The prosecution alleges that on October 12, 2018, the accused at Kambuye-Kanseera, Mubende district, killed and robbed Yunus Kasajja Tabu of his three mobile phones.

Late Tabu allegedly died during a fight with land grab affected community whose assailants are still unknown. Tabu was a manager of local businessman one Kaweesi George, under the protection of police grabbed 322.5 hectares and violently evicted over 3500 lawful occupants on Block 168; Plot 19, 22 and 23 covering five villages namely; Kambuye, Kikono, Kyabaana, Kanseera and Lwensanga in East Division, Mubende Municipality, Mubende district. The land is adjacent to Kaweeri Coffee Plantation is covering on.

However, police carried out a random arrest and targeted land rights defenders and activists that were mobilizing and empowering the landgrab affected community to resist an illegal and forceful eviction.

In January 2019, the attempt to get bail for witnessradio.org‘s Nantubiro Grace and Mugwabya Ronald was denied High Court in Mubende’s justice Joseph Mulangira.

According to officials at Mubende High Court, bail applications will be heard this afternoon.

 

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Beijing proposes seven-point plan for upgrading China-Africa cooperation

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African leaders at the FOCA meeting in 2018

Chato, Tanzania | XINHUA |  The 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has achieved great success and become a new monument to China-Africa friendly cooperation, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Friday.

Wang made the remarks at a joint press conference here with Tanzanian Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Palamagamba Kabudi during his official visit to the African country.

Wang noted that over the past two years, China has fully implemented the eight major initiatives with African countries proposed at the Beijing Summit.

Cooperation in areas of industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health care, people-to-people exchange, and peace and security have been carried out in a comprehensive way, he said, adding that the overall implementation rate has exceeded 70 percent.

Noting that China-Africa cooperation on the “Belt and Road” is progressing smoothly, Wang said over 1,100 cooperation projects continue to operate during the epidemic.

Meanwhile, nearly 100,000 Chinese technical and engineering personnel also stick to their posts to coordinate and promote epidemic prevention and control as well as resume work and production, making important contributions to local economic and social development.

The friendship between Chinese and African people has continued to grow and the two sides have established 11 pairs of new sister cities, bringing the total number to 150, said Wang,

Furthermore, the China-Africa Institute has been inaugurated, a number of Confucius Institutes have been set up in Africa and exchanges in sectors of sports, health, tourism and youths between the two sides have yielded fruitful results, Wang added.

Wang noted that despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will not stop China and Africa from moving forward together. The two sides are scheduled to hold a new session of the FOCAC in Senegal later this year.

“China is ready to enhance communication with our African friends and we will carefully design the outcomes of the meeting and upgrade China-Africa cooperation based on the new situation, new needs and new opportunities of China-Africa cooperation,” said Wang.

A seven-point plan for upgrading of China-Africa cooperation is also proposed by Wang.

  • –China will strengthen health cooperation, work together with Africa to completely defeat the epidemic, help Africa enhance its capacity to prevent and respond to major diseases, and jointly build a “Healthy Africa”.
  • –China will enhance production capacity cooperation and upgrade China-Africa project cooperation to a more clustered, large-scale, industrialized and localized scale. China will help Africa raise its capacity for independent production and jointly build a “Made in Africa”.
  • –China will strengthen regional connectivity, explore China-Africa free trade cooperation, and help Africa enhance internal infrastructure connectivity, unimpeached trade and financial integration so as to jointly build an “Inter-connected Africa”.
  • –China will strengthen agricultural cooperation, carry out cooperation in grain production, storage and transportation, help Africa strengthen its food security and guarantee capability to jointly build a “Harvest Africa”.
  • –China will strengthen digital cooperation, give full play to China’s technological advantages, help Africa seize the opportunity of the information revolution and jointly build a “Digital Africa”.
  • –China will carry out environmental protection cooperation, practice the concept of sustainable development, help Africa improve its ability to cope with climate change and jointly build a “Green Africa”.
  • –China will strengthen military security cooperation, promote political solutions of critical issues in Africa, help Africa enhance its peacekeeping and anti-terrorism capabilities, and jointly build a “Safe Africa”.

Wang also expressed confidence that with the joint efforts of both sides and under the guidance of the forum mechanism, China-Africa cooperation will continue to bear fruits and make greater contribution to the building of a closer China-Africa community with a shared future.

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XINHUA

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