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Reasons for the landless Buganda Land Board



Once upon a time, there was a public body which went by the name, the Buganda Land Board. This body was set up under Chapter X11 of the 1962 Constitution to manage public land in Buganda. This public body had its roots in the 1900 Agreement (Uganda/Buganda Agreement) under which various chunks of land of varying sizes were grabbed from natives and given away to various individuals, chieftains and religious groups.  The chunks of land given away were neither surveyed nor did they have any known tenancy category in the Kiganda culture.  The colonial authorities eventually regularised this land grabbing and in 1908 enacted a legislation known as The Land Law of June 15, 1908. This law created two tenancies.  Under Section 2 thereof, a tenancy known as Mailo was created.  The section specifically stated to hold land in a manner described in that section “will be known as holding Mailo, and land of this description will be called Mailo”. Section 5 created a second tenancy which was described as that land which a chieftainship shall hold for the time he shall hold the chieftainship. It stipulated that he shall be entitled to take all the profits from that land, but when he leaves that chieftainship, the successor chief will take over the land. In the words of Section 5(c) “to hold land in this manner, will be called to hold official mailo.” The actual demarcation of both the mailoand the official mailo tenancies was not done until five years later when the Buganda Agreement (Allotment and Survey) Law of 1913 was enacted.

Since the mailo was under the control of individuals, or bodies to which it was allocated, it was necessary to put in place a statutory public body to manage the official mailo and herein lay the origin of the Buganda Land Board.  The chieftainships holding official mailo were diverse, covering saza chiefs, gombolola chiefs, land held under chieftainships of the Katikiro, Omulamuzi, Omuwanika and others described in the 1900 Agreement and elsewhere in the subsequent laws as official mailo.  Indeed even the chunk of land allocated to the Kabaka under the 1900 Agreement was converted to official mailo under Section 2(b) of the June 15, 1908 Land Law. The Buganda Land Board under whose authority the administration of the officialmailo was placed was a statutory body of the Uganda Protectorate. It should be noted that at the conclusion of 1900 Agreement, the Uganda Protectorate consisted of only one province and that was the Buganda Kingdom. The 1900 Agreement in Article 3 envisaged “other Provinces” which were in future to be added to the Province of Buganda Kingdom and indeed when the final demarcations of the Uganda Protectorate were made, three other provinces namely; the Western Province, the Eastern and the Northern provinces had all been created and the four formed the Uganda Protectorate which eventually emerged into the current independent Republic of Uganda.

When the Uganda Protectorate gained Independence, the Constitution of the newly independent State of Uganda, so fit to dedicate the whole chapter on the administration of Public Land.  This was Chapter XII and under Article 118, Public Land in Uganda was to be administered by three sets of bodies.  The areas of Uganda which were administered under federo units, public land was under Land Boards, while those under districts; public land was administered by District Land Boards.  The rest of Uganda, Land was administered by the Uganda Land Commission. The Buganda Land Board was under Article 118(3) recognised as the body administering public land in the Buganda Kingdom.  It should be clarified that the public land in Buganda under the Buganda Land Board went under the nomenclature of official mailo.  All the Statutory bodies administering public land in Uganda namely; Uganda Land Commission, Federal Land Boards and District Land Boards,  were Constitutionally subject to the scrutiny of the Auditor General and, therefore, accountable to the public.

The wind of change which blew across the political terrain of the country swept away the 1962 Constitution and a new Constitution known as the 1967 Republic Constitution was promulgated. Like the 1962 Constitution, the 1967 one, also dedicated a whole Chapter on the administration of public land. This was Chapter XII and Article 108 under that chapter   specifically set out the Land Commission of Uganda as the body to administer all the public land in Uganda. For clarity, Article 108 (5) specified the various land entities vested in the Land Commission. These included  every official estate held by a corporation sole by virtue of the provisions of the official estate Act and any land which immediately before the commencement of the 1967 Republican Constitution was vested in the land board of a kingdom or a district. Thus, the public land which had under the 1962 Constitution been administered by the various Land Boards of federal units or districts were transferred to one single public body namely;  The Land Commission of Uganda.

Thus, the official mailo under the Buganda Land Board was never confiscated; it was simply under the constitutional order of the day transferred to a public body under which the administration of all public land in Uganda was consolidated.

The duplicity of giving different names to public land depending on its location in Uganda, for example, Buganda Kingdom where it had been called official mailo was streamlined with all other public land in the country under one body namely; The Uganda Land Commission.

It was public land being managed by Buganda Land Board whose administration was transferred to the Uganda Land Commission. The 1967 Constitution like the one of 1962 created the position of an Auditor General for Uganda to which all public offices and institutions had to submit for scrutiny and were, therefore, subject to public accountability.

For avoidance of doubt, the 1967 Constitution, created Article 126 for the continuance in force of the system of mailo to emphasise the difference from the public land which had been called official and which by the constitution had been streamlined by being moved from the Buganda Land Board to the Uganda Land Commission.

The current Buganda Land Board is not a successor in title to the Buganda Land Board of the 1962 Constitution.  It is not a statutory body and has no mandate to administer any public land by whatever name called.  Its legal status going by its instrument of registration is that of a private limited liability company with one (1) shareholder. It has no accountability to the public and no queries can be raised by a public body on how the company is run.  It cannot legally claim ownership of public property by virtue of the Traditional Rulers (Restitution of Assets and Properties) Act 1993.

That Act having been enacted before the coming into force of the 1995 Constitution, must be construed with such modifications, adaptations, qualifications and exceptions which may be necessary to bring it into conformity with the constitution.

The 1995 Constitution cannot be construed to resituate public assets to institutions by whatever name called which never owned them in the first place, from whom they have never been confiscated and by whom no official public accountability is exacted by the Constitution. Public assets can only be managed by individuals or body of individuals or corporations which can be scrutinised by the Auditor General and, therefore, accountable to the Public.

The Constitution has vested the administration of public land in the Uganda Land Commission, District Land Boards, or Regional Land Boards and all these public bodies are scrutinisable by the Auditor General and, therefore, accountable to the public.   Under the 1967 Constitution, when all public land had been put under the Land Commission, any monies accruing from the Land so vested under the commission had to be paid to such authority as Parliament may prescribe. This mandate now falls to the three bodies indicated above which are constitutionally recognised to administer public land in Uganda. Buganda Land Board being a private limited company has no obligation to account for any monies or benefit derived from the Land under its administration.

It is in this scheme of things that it is imperative for Buganda Land Board Limited to return the land it is illegally holding and profiteering from unjustly.  Public Assets cannot be in the hands of a private limited company.

The handlers of the Buganda Kingdom, must be humble and realise the Constitutional mistake of holding onto Land Titles and assuming proprietorship where no law obtains conferring ownership of public land to a cultural institution. This is the decent way to do it and this action shall go a long way in restoring respectability of the cultural leadership.

The ball is squarely in the hands of the sole shareholder of the Buganda Land Board Company Limited who has the unique historical opportunity to redeem the tremendous goodwill which surrounded the return of traditional/cultural rulers to the Uganda political scene, but which, if left with no action taken, shall surely disappear into oblivion.

Extracted from the New Vision


Complaint against unprofessional conduct of the DPC Kiryandongo district for aiding and abetting land grabbing in kiryandongo district.



The Commandant,

Professional Standards Unit, Uganda Police-Kampala.

Dear Sir/Madam;


We act for and behalf of the Lawful and bonafide occupants of Land described as LRV MAS 2 FOLIO 8 BLOCK 8 PLOT 22 (FORMERLY KNOWN AS RANCH 22).

Our Clients are residents of Nyamutende Village, Kitwara Parish in Kiryandongo District where they have lived for more than 30 years and sometime in 2017, they applied for a lease of the said Land to Kiryandongo District Land Board through the Directorate of Land Matters State House.

As they were still awaiting their Application to be processed, they were shocked to establish that the said land had been instead leased to and registered in the names of Isingoma Julius, Mwesige Simon, John Musokota William, Tumusiime Gerald, Wabwire Messener Gabriel, Ocema Richard and Wilson Shikhama, some of whom were not known to the Complainants. A copy of the Search is attached hereto

Our clients protested the above action and appealed to relevant offices, but were shocked to discover that the above persons had gone ahead and sold the same to a one Maseruka Robert.

Aggrieved by these actions, the Complainants appealed to the RDC who advised them to institute proceedings against the said persons, and assigned them a one Mbabazi Samuel to assist them to that effect. The said Mbabazi accordingly filed Civil Suit Noa 46 of 2019 against tne said registered proprietors at Masindi High Court challenging the illegal and fraudulent registration, sale and transfer of the subject land to Maseruka Robert.

While awaiting the progress of the case mentioned hereinabove, the Complainants were surprised to find that the said Mbabazi, instead of assisting them, he went into a consent settling the said suit on their behalf without their knowledge or consent. A copy of the Consent is attached hereto.

Among the terms of the said consent Judgment was that the residents would be compensated without specifying how much and would in return vacate the Land.

As if that was not enough, Maseruka Robert and Mbabazi Samuel are going ahead to execute the said Consent Judgment by forcefully evicting the occupants without compensation which has prompted the complainants to challenge the said Consent by applying for its review and setting aside at Masindi High Court which is coming up for hearing on the 29th March 2023. A copy of the Application is attached hereto.

Sensing the imminent threat of eviction, we also filed an application for interim stay of execution of the said consent to avoid rendering their application for review nugatory but unfortunately the same could not be heard on the date it was fixed for hearing (6th February 2023). A copy of the Application is attached hereto

On Thursday last week, three tractors being operated by 6 workers of a one Mbabazi Samuel [the very person who had been entrusted to represent our Clients to secure their Land through Civil Suit No.46 of 2019] encroached close to 50 acres of our Clients’ land and started ploughing it but our Client’s protested and chased them away.

We have however been shocked to receive information from our Clients that on Sunday at Mid night, 3 police patrols invaded the community in the night and arrested community members; Mulenje Jack, Steven Kagyenji, Mulekwa David, Ntambala Geoffrey, Tumukunde Isaac 15 years, Kanunu Innocent, Mukombozi Frank, Kuzara, Rwamunyankole Enock, and took them to Kiryandongo Police Station where they are currently detained.

We strongly protest the illegal arrests and detention of our Clients as this is a carefully orchestrated land grabbing scheme by Maseruka Robert and Mbabazi Samuel who are  receiving support from the DPC Kiryandongo.

The purpose of this Letter therefore is to request your good office to investigate the misconduct, abuse of office and unprofessionalism of the said DPC Kiryandongo District and all his involvement in the land grabbing schemes on land formerly known as Ranch 22.

Looking forward to your urgent intervention,

C.C The Head Police Land Protection Unit Police Head Quarters Naguru

CC The RDC Kiryandongo District

CC The Chairman LCVKityadongo District

CC The Regional Police CommanderAlbertine Region

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The Executive Director of Witness Radio Uganda talks about the role played by Witness Radio in protecting communities affected by large-scale agribusinesses in Kiryandongo district in an interview with the ILC.



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Witness Radio Uganda wins the best CSO land rights defenders award at the National Land Forum Awards.



By Witness Radio Team

Uganda’s leading land and environmental rights watchdog, Witness Radio has been awarded the best CSO land rights defender award 2022 in the recently concluded National Land Forum Awards held last week at Mestil hotel in Kampala.

Witness Radio’s executive Director, Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala attributed the award to the community land and environmental rights defenders who stand up against the intimidation and different forms of harassment from land grabbers (economically powerful and politically connected companies and individual investors).

“This is an award for defenders at a community level. They work in very deadly environments filled with harassment, torture, death threats, arrest, trumped-up charges, and kidnaps among others to advocate for community land and environment rights. This is happening at a spate where criminalization and silencing of  community land rights defenders are at increase.” Jeff added.

The award has come at a time when hundreds of Ugandans in different parts of the country are accessing services provided by the organization ranging from legal service provisions, non-judicial mechanism engagements, empowerment to help them understand their rights, and using the same knowledge to use the same skills to push back against illegal and forced evictions

The chairman of the organizing committee of the second National Land Forum, Mr. Jimmy Ochom noted some progress on legislation in Uganda’s land Governance. He cited growing inequalities on land where the poor are more vulnerable.

During awards, the state minister for housing, Hon persis Namuganza revealed that the government approved the plan for 2018-2040 that maps the land use in the country.

According to the minister, the government had identified land for settlement, game reserves, wildlife, arable land for farming, and water bodies among others in the plan which she said was passed a few weeks ago.

The event was organized by Oxfam and partners and provided a platform for discussions by the different actors in the land sector on issues around land governance, including land rights, land administration, and land governance for improved collaboration, cooperation between the actors, and improved land service delivery for Ugandans under a theme “Taking stock of the National Land Policy in addressing Land inequality in addressing Land inequality in Uganda.”

Other categories of awards that were won by different organizations and individuals including Mr. Eddie Nsamba-Gayiiya for his contribution to research on land rights, Justice Centers Uganda for Promoting Access to Land Justice, and Mr. Henry Harrison Irumba for Championing Legal Reforms among others.

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