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Government is not grabbing public land, says Akena

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Jimmy Michael Akena, the leader of one of the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) factions has today absolved the Uganda government of allegations of land grabbing, made by a number of politicians on different media platforms.

 Lands, Housing and Urban Development minister Betty Amongi. she is also wife to UPC's Jimmy Akena.
Lands, Housing and Urban Development minister Betty Amongi. She is also wife to UPC’s Jimmy Akena.

Speaking at a press briefing at the UPC headquarters at Uganda House, Akena, husband of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Minister Betty Amongi, was responding allegations that directly fall under his wife’s ministry; which has since moved a motion in Parliament to have the land laws amended.

Akena, who was accompanied by Kole Member of Parliament Fred Ebil Ebil, said those who claim to own land do not have the proper documentation to show ownership, adding that most are speculators focusing on huge compensations after getting to know about government projects in the offing.

He further noted only 15 per cent of Ugandans carried land titles, adding that this has had an adverse impact on matters of compensation as well as on the general economy of Uganda.

“The moneys got to carry out these projects are in most cases loans given out to the government and it is expected to pay back with interests whether the work is carried out or not. So the delay of these projects as the people ask for compensations is a hindrance to the country’s development economically, politically and socially since the money that would be put in other sectors is then used to clear the interest that the government will have incurred after acquisition of the loan,” Mr Akena said.

NEWFOUND FRIENDS: The Akenas, Jimmy and wife Betty pose for a photo with President Yoweri Museveni.
NEWFOUND FRIENDS: The Akenas, Jimmy and wife Betty pose for a photo with President Yoweri Museveni.

And, weighing in on the provision for compulsory acquisition of land by government, Mr Akena cited the Land Acquisition Act of 1965 put in place by the UPC government under the leadership of his father Apollo Milton Obote, and said that government can take compulsory possession of land, if necessary.

“The public has an obligation to pave way for the government to acquire the land smoothly since it is for the good of the whole nation; there is also need for the government to speed up the process of documentation to show clear ownership of land so that the government knows who and how to compensate the rightful owners of the land,” Mr Akena noted.

Akena, whose wife Amongi, the Oyam Woman MP, heads the lands line ministry, also said the UPC was ready to support a law to address the issue of speculators, saying they are not different from corrupt government officials because they demand for exorbitant amounts of money yet the government does not start work on any public land without complete compensation.

Mr Akena’s remarks sharply contrast the position of another opposition party, the Democratic Party, which has accused government of land grabbing.

Yesterday, while addressing a press conference, the DP youth leader Christopher Okidi accused government of grabbing public land and selling it to investors.

To counter the move, Mr Okidi said the DP had laid out a number of strategies and plans to carry out the campaign, including visiting all the places they say were grabbed by the government.

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