By Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi
As we finalise arrangements for the swearing in ceremony of President Yoweri Museveni at Kololo Independence Grounds on Wednesday May 12th 2021, different people have shown their preferences as first priorities in the implementation of the NRM manifesto 2021-2026.
As l was pondering around to see which in my view should be the first priorities, Local Defense Unit personnel shot two people at my home Mijwala sub county headquarters, Mawogola County, Sembabule District, over a land wrangle between the Kabaka’s Saza and Gombola chiefs and the District administration each claiming ownership of that Official Mailo estate.
That is as a result of a 2013 agreement between President Yoweri Museveni and Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi ll signed in 2013 by which Official Mailo estates including land estates of Buganda Government ministers and those of Saza and Gombolola chiefs were returned to the traditional institution of the Kabaka of Buganda.
According to the Buganda Agreement of 1900, those Mailo estates were preserved for local administration services including building county, Sub county and parish headquarters, hospitals and health centers, schools, which were for local administrations and community development.
However, after the Central Government and Kingdom of Buganda in particular failure to agree on the operationalization of Regional Governments in 2005, and after 2009 riots, the President and the Kabaka struck a deal by which the traditional and cultural leader of the most influential and strategic institution was given those Mailo estates.
Ever since 1966 Uganda Crisis, the assumption was that local governments in Buganda including districts, Kampala City, municipalities, and sub counties inherited the official Mailo estates after the abolition of the kingdoms and federal estates and Uganda became a republic and a unitary state.
Now the Kabaka’s subjects who participated in the construction of county, sub county and parish offices (through oluwalo) or contributed financially willingly and through paying taxes, find themselves or their children and grandchildren doing the same again as local governments are being chased from those estates by Mengo unless they pay rent.
These local governments and administrative units are seen as children of the kingdom which should not force them to pay rent as they are stakeholders in the estate.
Evicting or attempting to evict local governments from such estates in Buganda is setting a bad precedent as other regions and sub regions like Busoga, Bunyoro, Tooro have threatened to do the same and even republican districts like Buhweju whose pre-colonial kingdom was
abolished and it became an integrated part of Ankole, there other time, sought compensation for local governments using its Saza and Gombolola estates, which it claimed that are traditional and cultural sites. All that but burden will go to the Ugandan tax payer.
In order to avoid a future crisis, democratically elected regional governments should be operationalized which are supposed to form regional land boards, in case of Buganda, Buganda Land Board (BLB), whose composition shall be made up of, among others chairpersons of district land boards and on which land boards even the regional land boards shall be represented.
Such a Buganda Land Board shall be in charge of public land (akenda) and the official Mailo estates and since local governments shall be under Regional Governments, evictions of local governments from Official Mailo Estates shall be uncalled for.
That should form the first priorities for the new government as part of the comprehensive policy on lands the Land Fund is the only solution to stop land wrangles between land owners and bibanja holders/customary tenants or Bonafede occupants.
The land fund had a successful experiment in former lost counties where many absentee land owners were paid and the land was given to bibanja holders and by now, it would have swept the whole of Buganda where there is dual ownership, so long as it does not encourage land
fragmentation which has also become a menace.
In the Manifesto Week, Minister of State for Lands Dr. Chris Baryomunsi explained the Land Fund will be given priority starting with 2021/2022 Financial Year.
Land evictions which are mostly on public land, contributed greatly to poor performance of NRM in Buganda in the last general elections and it should not be repeated again. Buganda cannot be a no-go area for NRM as it is the case with UPC since 1966.
Haji Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi is a veteran journalist and a Communications Assistant with Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.
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