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We won’t leave Queen Elizabeth park land, Rukungiri locals insist



RUKUNGIRI. Residents of Kikarara Parish in Bwambara Sub-county have asked government to reverse a plan to evict them from a piece of land, which is claimed to be part of Queen Elizabeth National Park in Rukungiri District.
The more than 8,000 residents live in nine villages of Garuka, Nyakatemba A, Nyakatembe B, Nyabugando, Kahimbi, Rwesigiro, Nyakabungo B, Nyakabungo A and Kafunjo in Ishasha Sector.

They are mainly of Banyabutumbi tribe and claim the place is their ancestral land. The other inhabitants are Bakiga, who claim to have been resettled there in 1940s from Kabale by the government.
The residents say the area was erroneously gazetted for wildlife protection by government in 1995.
On May 28, President Museveni said government would compensate the affected residents.

“I shall sit with your leaders and we dialogue on the possible ways to compensate people whose land was turned into a national park…..,” he said while campaigning for Ms Winifred Masiko in Bwambara during the Rukungiri Woman MP by-election.
Mr Charles Tukamusherura, the Kikarara Parish chairperson, says residents have been living in fear of being evicted for long adding that they will not yield to any attempts to take them from the place they call home.

“We have lived here for all our lives, our great grandfathers were buried here and no one knows how we came to live in this area. The government wants us out of this land, our land? They want to give it to animals. Everyone who has been coming here since 1996 promises us an answer but we have got none. We still shall be waiting but we shall not accept anyone who says we leave,” Mr Tukamusherura says.

He adds that residents have faced several injustices, including animals feeding on their crops, their domestic animals being eaten by wild animals and at times, and some residents also being killed by animals. When they tell government, they are reminded that they live inside the NP.
“Because we have been waiting for an answer, we have been patient, we have endured a lot, and our people have been killed and tortured. Our crops, our goats and our cows are feeds for park animals and when we complain, government tells us we are living in a place for animals, the park. Who makes the park and when did animals become more important than people to that extent?” he further says.
Mbwa Tract in the Bwindi Impenetrable NP, the Upper Madi area in the Murchison Falls NP, and part of the Mount Elgon NP are other wild life protection areas with contested boundaries.

Kikarara Parish has a government aided (Universal Primary Education) school with at least 800 pupils and a government health centre II.
“We don’t even know the essence of voting, here we have been supporting this government to the extent of voting openly for NRM, but they want us to go away from our land. Every time you want to plant crops such as coffee you fear because you feel like they are going to come and cut it, we live in poverty because of this,” says Mr Evaristo Tushabe, a resident of Garuka.
The Bwambara Sub-county chairperson, Mr Enock Turyamuhabwa, says the sub county and district leadership have made several attempts to have the area degazetted by Parliament.

“We have made teams to follow up this issue and the residents have been hopeful. When the President visited during the recent campaigns, everyone was waiting for him to say this place shall be degazetted,” Mr Turyamuhabwa says.
The Rukungiri District chairperson, Mr Andrewson Charles Katebire, says the area has failed to develop due to the uncertainties.
“People would wish to come and establish tourist camps but they cannot, others want to have land titles to construct permanent structures.

This is also a place where oil was discovered and it’s on people’s land but they fear they may not be compensated when drilling starts,” says Mr Katebire.
Rujumbura MP Mr Fred Turyamuhweza says he has been engaging the central government over the issue, and wanted residents to go to the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire-led land probe and present their case.


“We have lived here for all our lives, our great grandfathers were buried here and no one knows how we came to live in this area. The government wants us out of this land, our land? They want to give it to animals,” Charles Tukamusherura, Kikarara Parish chairperson.

“The current land law allows residents to own land after living there for 12 years. Most people came to the land in 1947 while others lived there even before. This makes this land legally theirs. I don’t know what time it will take but no one should be afraid that government shall evict them,” Fred Turyamuhweza, Rujumbura MP.

“The challenge we have is people wanting to undertake activities in protected areas that are not permissible. Our role is to protect and ensure no one encroaches it. But I cannot say we have had a poor relationship with this community,” Bashir Hangi, Uganda Wildlife Authority spokesman.

Source: Daily Monitor


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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