Tuesday, July 11, 2017

#Museveni's forced rural-urban migration scheme is behind the massive #Uganda #LandGrabbing

Uganda is a country of 38M people plus 1.5M refugees.  Uganda has 80% of its population living in rural areas and thriving on subsistence farming.  According to Museveni, it is this "overcrowding" in subsistence farming that is responsible for environmental degradation. While addressing the Nile Basin Summit in Kampala on 22nd June 2017, he submitted that "too many people in agriculture put a lot of pressure on the forests, the mountain ranges, the river banks and what is erroneously called wetlands."
During the same occasion, he further argued that; "...the 400M acres of arable land that Uganda has does not need all these millions of people to produce efficiently."  He has repeatedly observed that "in the USA it is only 2% of the population that is in agriculture."  
Earlier on during the 'State of the Cattle Address', he observed that the youth should not be condemned to the countryside but should be facilitated to stay in the city.  He made a case for industrialization as a way of easing the burden on land thus; "Agriculture would therefore retain fewer people that would farm scientifically and produce higher yields of food and raw materials."
From the above viewpoint, we can authoritatively argue that Museveni is bent on seeing a big number of Ugandans losing their land in the countryside and migrate to urban centres. This explains the state-orchestrated massive land grabbing that is going on in the whole country. The scheme has been going on for decades and has been taking the form of deliberately making land valueless to the ordinary people.
Museveni had to kill the production of the traditional cash crops like cotton and coffee. He went ahead to kill the cooperative movement, the Cooperative Bank and the Uganda Commercial Bank. He depleted cattle from some regions. The mismanagement of Uganda Railways and its eventual closure disadvantaged the production capacity of many people in the countryside. That way land became of less value and when state orchestrated land grabbing swung into action, the victims were caught in a vulnerable situation.
Therefore, even his so called multi billion so called poverty alleviation programs have failed to make any positive economic impact simply because doing so would put value on the land hence would not be easily relinquished by the victims. The ongoing military led Operation Wealth Creation is nothing but a wastage of public resources as it contradicts his agenda of rural-urban immigration.
The 1975 Land Reform Decree overhauled the traditional land tenure system by declaring all land as public land. The 1995 Constitution re-invested all land back to the citizens in several land tenure systems. During the inauguration of the 1995 Constitution, Museveni made it categorically clear that he had been unhappy with the provisions on land. He was opposed to private ownership of land in favour of government ownership of all land.
Museveni has always been obsessed with Buganda's land. Since that time, he set out on a number of carefully calculated schemes to deprive private land owners of their land. The Land Act Cap 227 of 1998 provided for the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) as a body charged with management of all public land, the District Land Board, the Parish Land Committee, the District Land Tribunals, and Land Tribunals for Sub-counties and gazetted urban areas. This Land Act has already been subjected to three amendments to suit Museveni's designs.
The first time was in 2010 when it extended the jurisdiction of Magistrates and LC courts to continue handling land disputes until the land Tribunals would be put in place. In 2004 when security of family land was guaranteed and in 2010 security of the so called bonafide occupants was enhanced. The 2010 amendment in particular had proven to be very controversial.  It had been initiated in 2007 under the Land Act (Amendment) Bill 2007 which Museveni had to stay after the country and more especially Buganda region almost caught fire.
Buganda Kingdom had countered his manoeuvres by launching a campaign to sensitize her people over land dubbed Central Civic Education Committee headed by Betty Namboze. The regime brutally reacted by arresting top Buganda kingdom officials including Betty Namboze before closing down the CBS radio station in 2008.  The regime then went ahead to incite Bibanja Holders against landlords where by in Bugerere a landlord was attacked and burnt alive.
In 2003 Museveni set up a Land Task Force headed by Capt. Gertrude Njuba at the State House Directorate of Land Matters to help the so called Bibanja Holders (bonafide occupants). Most intriguing was that the officers under that department reported to different offices i.e. to the Permanent Secretary in the President's Office, to the State House Controller, and to the Principal Private Secretary to the President.
Another Land Protection Squad under Maj. Jacob Asiimwe was also put in place to 'protect people under the threat of eviction'.  The Police also set up a Land Protection Unit.  When Museveni signed the Land Amendment Bill into law in February 2010, many so called bonafide occupants of land jubilated in the hope that they were now having protection from illegal evictions.  However, a year later reports indicated that it was the police, State House, Ministry of Lands, the so-called investors, and other top government officials who were at the forefront of land grabbing.
The land grabbers carried letters on State House letter heads bearing the signature of Museveni, the First Lady and were being escorted by the RDC Wakiso, Dan Kaguta and the police. The 1998 Land Act S.41 (i) had provided for a Land Fund.  The Minister was supposed to ensure its establishment within one year.  However, in 2011 the Auditor General's report observed that 11 years since the Land Act had come into force, the Land Fund had not been operationalized.
In May 2012, the government through the Ministry of Internal Affairs threatened to deregister OXFAM, Uganda Land Alliance, and a group of sixty local and international NGOs working on land reforms over accusations that they had harmed the name of the President of Uganda.  In their October 2011 report, these NGOs indicated that over 20,000 people in Mubende and Kiboga had been brutally evicted from their land to give way for a forest plantation by an investor, NFC.
On 7th February 2013 cabinet approved the National Land Policy after Museveni had personally chaired all the six cabinet meetings that discussed the same. The policy goal was to "ensure efficient, equitable utilisation and sustainable utilization of land based resources for poverty reduction, wealth creation and overall social and economic development.  Most intriguing is a section in the land policy that involves refugees thus; ".... cross border population movements are frequent as a result of conflict, ecological and environmental stress or interactive accommodation among cross border communities sharing common heritage and culture.
A significant proportion of these populations sometimes end up being classified as either refugees or internally displaced persons. Government will negotiate protocols for the reciprocal treatment and settlement of mass cross border movements." As of now, Uganda is hosting over 1.2M registered refugees let alone the tens of thousands of others who fall in the category of the so called cross border population movements.
In May 2013 Museveni froze the Land Unit under State House that had been headed by Capt. Gertrude Njuba.  Instead he put in place a Land Committee to protect the rights of peasants from evictions. It was headed by the then Minister of State for Lands, Iddah Nantaba and consisted of among others UPDF's Capt. Mugarura and a one Katootyo of the Police Land Protection Unit. At the same time, he launched the Land Fund meant to help peasants buy land from landlords.
It was also to help government buy land from landlords for redistribution to bonafide occupants and resettlement of landless people. During the launch, Museveni had this to say; ".... if there are genuine capitalists, this is a good deal for them. If the peasants are paid good money, they will free up the land to genuine developers especially near towns and they will seek resettlement elsewhere." This is a classic example of Museveni's grand design to push Ugandans into urban centres as their land is taken over by his so-called capitalists. The Land Fund was operationalized and it has mostly benefited regime cohorts and 'Museveni's people'.  In February 2017 State Minister for Lands, Namuganza was fighting with her boss, the Lands Minister, Amongi over control of the fund.
In February 2014, the IGG wrote to the Minister of Lands suggesting a government commission of inquiry into issues of alleged fraud in the land sector. She complained that many of her recommendations were being ignored by technocrats in the Lands Ministry. In April 2014 Museveni returned 217 Land Titles to Buganda Kingdom land with a strong caution for the Kingdom not to evict tenants settled on that land. In June 2015, elderly women of Amuru in northern Uganda protested by stripping naked against the regime's ploy to steal their land.
In July 2015 then Lands State Minister, Nantaba disclosed that wealthy people including high ranking army officers involved in illegal land evictions across the country were plotting her downfall in the February 2016 polls because she had attempted to frustrate their land grabbing schemes. Indeed, during the NRM primaries, she almost lost her life and had to contest and win as an independent candidate.
Museveni dropped Nantaba from the Lands docket and in June 2016 while handing over office, she told her successor about a clique of mafia groups including top police officers and army generals who are determined to gobble up the entire land sector.  She said; ".... some people including UPDF Generals would forcefully evict people and turn around to demand compensation from the Land Fund." She went further to disclose that highly placed government officials including 'men in uniform' fraudulently acquire land tittles and evict the poor people from their land.
That they fraudulently acquire land in project affected areas in order to demand exaggerated compensation thus crippling government projects. Museveni tactically handed the Lands Ministry to a Langi, Betty Amongi from the Obote family in order to torment the Baganda whose land he was targeting.  
In July 2016 during the regime retreat in Kyankwanzi, it was resolved that the Land Act be amended to allow the government to start projects on private land while negotiations with the owners for compensation are ongoing.  Consequently, in August 2016 the Minister of Lands announced plans to amend Article 26 clause 3 of the constitution in order to provide for government taking over private land without compensation.
She went ahead to announce that there would be suspension of issuance of Land Tittles on public land for three months and creation of a committee that would address the rampant land evictions and creation of a government land registry by having all its land surveyed and demarcated.  Further, that her ministry would examine the effectiveness of the law, processes of land acquisition, land administration land management and land registration. Obviously, Museveni intended to use the Commission's findings to nationalize all land issues.
The entire country rose up in arms to condemn the planned move. Dr. Besigye in particular wrote a long missive calling upon Ugandans to resist land take over by government. The most vulnerable, Buganda Kingdom, embarked on registering all its tenants. The regime got concerned and using a one Male Mabirizi, the Kabaka was dragged to court to challenge his ownership of land.
The regime had intended to rely on the 1965 Land Acquisition Act whereby government could compulsorily acquire land for public good after fully compensating the owners except in the event of disasters and emergencies. However, the matter had been settled in October 2015 when the Supreme Court had upheld the ruling of the Constitutional Court in Ashman Irumba Vs Age and UNRA that S.7(1) of the said Act was unconstitutional and in contravention of Article 26 of the 1995 Constitution. Court added that moreover planned government projects do not fall under the exception of disaster and emergencies.
The said Irumba had had his land taken possession of without compensation during the upgrading of the Hoima-KaisoTonya road. The regime panicked and in December 2016 Museveni announced the appointment of a Land Probe Commission headed by Catherine Bamugemerire. As a way of buying time, it was sworn in on February 19th 2017 and it was not until May 3rd that it started its work. According to the terms of reference No. 4, the Commission is supposed to investigate, inquire and solicit views on the role of traditional, cultural and religious institutions who own large tracts of land with occupants in a bid to enhance better landlord/Tennant relationship. It is supposed to submit an interim report to the President within three months from the date of its first hearing and to finish its work within six months.
Earlier on, Buganda Kingdom through its Land Board had launched a scheme to save the vulnerable Bibanja Holders on its vast land by granting them leases of 49 years dubbed "Kyapa Mungalo" (Land Tittle in your hands).  That way, Buganda Kingdom intended to increase the value of land occupied by these Bibanja Holders so that they may not easily be lured into selling to the 'regime capitalists'.
The regime vehemently opposed the idea and embarked on an underground campaign of undermining and misinformation. In May 2017 during the inauguration of the Land Probe Commission, the Lands Minister, Amongi questioned the mass land Titling by Buganda Kingdom.  She asked the Commission to focus on the Buganda Land Board mass Titling campaign.  The regime's skepticism was uncalled for because a resolution to offer lease to all interested Tennant's on the kingdom land had been passed in 1994 and about 20,000 leases had already been issued out.
In late June 2017, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands convened a meeting of governments departments, Ministries, and agencies directly involved in the implementation of major infrastructure projects to brainstorm on how to popularize the impending Amendment of Article 26 of the Constitution. Those in attendance were the PS Ministry of Energy, the ED KCCA, UIA, UNRA, SGR, and Rural Electrification Agency. Under the proposed amendment, the government would take possession of private land and proceed to use it whether or not the owner is satisfied with the compensation offered.
The amendment goes ahead to suggest that the value of compensation would be that as determined by the Chief Government Valuer and that it would be deposited in court or any other competent authority the market value of the said property pending determination by court or any other competent authority. 
Around mid May 2017, leading opposition leader, Dr. Besigye launched a campaign dubbed "My Land, My Life" meant to raise awareness to the masses on the plans by the regime to take their land.  His inaugural public address in Isingiro was foiled when the police blocked and arrested him. He rightly predicted that Museveni would set up a purposeless committee but would still go ahead to acquire the land by manipulating the constitution.
Since the Land Probe Committee commenced its public hearings on May 8th 2017, it received an overwhelming turn up by members of the public lodging complaints. As it progressed, it became clear that the usual suspects; the presidency, the police, the army and other top regime cohorts were increasingly getting publicly exposed.  No wonder, on 7th July 2017 the Commission announced that it was "taking a technical break" due to lack of funds and promised to resume if and when the funds would be availed.
The police last week announced that it was suspending the operations of Court Bailiffs and other stakeholders from clearing warrants/orders related to land/property until new guidelines are communicated. Court Bailifs are quasi officers of court and are also regulated by court. For the police to suspend their activities, it is daylight undermining of the independence of the judiciary.
Museveni is determined to dispossess Ugandans of their only left wealth and pride, land. Under the guise of nationalising land, he is to have a small section of 'his people' owning all the land as Ugandans are hoarded in urban centres with their remains buried in public cemeteries (Rimbo) under urban authorities. That way future generations will not be able to trace their roots. That will be the final phase of his systematic destruction of Uganda and Ugandans. His highly treacherous scheme can only be foiled by having him kicked out of power now and not tomorrow.
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