The Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises on Wednesday, 04 May 2022 quizzed the Uganda Land Commission over irregularities surrounding government-owned land.
Salient among the issues in question were the erroneous titling of land, irregularities in purchase and sell of government land and lack of an inventory of government land among others as captured in the Auditor General’s report for 2021.
The Mawokota County South MP, Yusuf Nsibambi, said that the Commission was in the habit of leasing and selling land to multiple players some of which it did not have titles.
He noted that this was aggravated by the backlog of land related cases it had not handled since 1989 amounting to 466 in the civil and land divisions of the High Court.
“The cases mostly arise from you giving out a plot of land to numerous applicants. Why is that so?” he asked.
Andrew Nyumba the Ag. Secretary to the Commission who doubles as the Principal Government Valuer in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development responded that the Commission gives opportunity to multiple applicants to apply for leases and then land is issued to those who meet the covenants of the lease within five years.
He added that some of the prospectors fail to meet the covenants and when the Commission awards the land to another successful party, they opt to go legal.
However, Nyumba conceded that there have been cases previously where the Commission gave out land to multiple applicants erroneously.
Nsibambi asked Nyumba why the Commission continued to give out titles for untitled land, an issue that is predominant in some of the cases the Commission is facing.
“Ideally, the Commission is supposed to acquire a free hold title from the relevant district land board and then create a lease of the land. However, this due diligence is not being followed,” he added.
The committee chairperson, Hon. Joel Ssenyonyi, astounded, asked how and why the aforementioned issue occurs under the watch of the Commission.
“If you acknowledge this, why is it happening and what have you done to mitigate the matter?” he asked.
Nyumba revealed that whereas some of the irregularities have happened and the Commission awarded land without proper titling – all before he had joined the Commission.
Hon. Dan Kimosho (NRM, Kazo County) however, asked the Commission whether they have an inventory of all government land and if they know where it is.
He held that it will be peculiar for the Commission to operate and carry out its mandate without having a record of the land in its possession.
“Lacking an inventory pauses a challenge of your own staff illegally possessing and selling off government land under your nose,” Kimosho added.
Nyumba said although the Commission was yet to compile a complete inventory of government land, they were working around the clock to title it.
When asked why, Nyumba said the Commission was grappling with low staffing levels to handle court cases and facilitation to constitute a team that can embark on the titling and documenting of all government-owned land.