President Yoweri Museveni this weekend will preside at a function in Nakaseke district to hand over 300 mailo land titles to Bibanja holders who have acquired registrable interests in the land they are living on, the Minister of Lands Housing and Urban Development Betty Amongi Ongom has said.
The said land is described as Block 260 plot 383 measuring 41.175 hectares and plot 385 measuring 201.6 hectares covering the villages of Kirema, Kibubu and Kitoto in Semuto subcounty, Nakaseke district.
“They will no longer be called tenants by occupancy but Mailo land owners or Registered Proprietors,” said the minister.
According to the minister, the decision to give occupants mailo land titles is one of the key measures to address the historical land injustices that caused multiple land rights on the same piece of land, with a land owner with perpetual interest holding a land title, and a tenant with a kibanja, in possession of the land.
“This has been causing evictions and the solution has been to enable tenants acquire registrable interests, as a long term solution to the current illegal evictions,” said the minister.
The genesis of the intervention, according to the minister, is embedded in the National Land Policy where Government committed itself to resolve the historical land injustices that have often created multiple rights on the same piece of mailo land. These actions also have linkages to the National Development Plan, Vision 2040, Program for Modernization of Agriculture and the NRM Election Manifesto among other Government interventions.
The minister said that since government took a decision to implement a land fund in Kibaale to address the historical injustices caused by the Colonial Government, it has so far 80,090.68 hectares (200,227 acres) of land in parts of Buganda, Bunyoro, Ankole and Toro regions valued at Shs102.7 billion.
The minister said other areas where government is in the process of processing titles for tenants is in Kayunga district are the subcounties of Kitimbwa and Kayonza. “These are pilot interventions in regions which have faced historical injustices in order to lead to long term solutions to evictions,” the minister said in a statement, adding that it is through such actions that the lawful and bonafide occupants shall be able to acquire registrable interests in the land they possess as was pledged in the NRM Election Manifesto 2016 – 2021.
This is the first batch of land titles to be handed over in Buganda region. Earlier in 2017 government handed over 350 land titles to former bibanja holders in Kibaale district.
Government shall be handing over more land titles to lawful and bonafide occupants in Nakasongola, Kagadi and Kakumiro districts, she said.
“The demands from absentee Landlords to Government to compensate them for their land are over whelming. Equally the demands from lawful and bonafide occupants to acquire registrable interests in the land they occupy is over whelming,” she said.
The minister said other measures put in place to handle land evictions are: Sensitization and public awareness on what the law says on evictions; enforcement of the legal provisions especially sections 31 and 93 of the Land Act which gives powers to set the Annual Nominal Ground Rent payable by Tenants to Landlords to both the District Land Boards and the Minister.
The minister said that together with GIZ, Government has mapped over 10,000 bibanja in Mityana district (Kakindu and Manyi subcounties), Kassanda district (Myanzi subcounty) and Mubende district (Kiyuni and Bukuya subcounties). The minister said her ministry, local governments and GIZ plan to issue the occupants with certificates of occupancy beginning with the pilot subcounty of Myanzi where Landlords have already received busuulu from tenants and consented to issue legal documents to tenants as provided for under section 31of the Land Act.
She said government is strengthening collaboration with Buganda Land Board (BLB) to create awareness on the rights and obligations of tenants of Kabaka’s land and the options they can undertake to be recognized as tenants with legal documents.
Also, the minister said the Dispute Resolution Desk (DRD) at the ministry is being strengthened to mediate amongst the conflicting parties as well as strengthening cooperation with other land related institutions involved in mediation and dispute resolution such as the Judiciary, office of DPP and other law enforcement institutions.
She said government is strengthening engagement with the Judiciary to ensure a coordinated enforcement of the Practice Directive No. 1 of 2007 by the Chief Justice on visiting the locus before making a judgement.
“The Ministry has completed preparation of the National Eviction Guidelines awaiting input from key stakeholders and strengthening the operations of the Land Fund, which has been used to buy off absent landlords,” she said.