The Minister for Presidency, Hon. Babirye Milly Babalanda has today met with stakeholders to assess the progress of the implementation of the February 28th, 2022 Presidential Directive on land evictions in Buganda region.
The meeting which was held at Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) Headquarters in Kampala, was attended by the Minister of State for Lands, Hon. Sam Mayanja, Resident District / City Commissioners (RDCs/ RCCs), State House officials, Police Commanders, Officials from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, among others.
Last year, the President issued the directive on land evictions within the powers given to him by the Constitution under Articles 98(1) and 99(1) and they included among others; That no eviction should be allowed to take place in a district without the District Security Committee, chaired by the RDCs; and meeting, looking to and consulting directly with the Minister of Lands; If this is not done and evictions take place, he (the President) would hold responsible all Members of the District Security Committee, except the UPDF representative because he/she may not know the substance of the issues involved. The President would take action against all of them.
“By copy of the directive, the President requested the Lord Chief Justice to prevail on his Magistrates and Judges from violating the Constitution by illegally evicting wananchi in collusion with land grabbers. He further directed the Minister of Lands to inform the Attorney General about such abuses by the Judicial Officers so that action can be taken on them,” Hon. Babalanda said.
The Minister informed the stakeholders that indeed the evictions in the region have reduced but the problem still exists and that she was concerned by the fact that ugly pictures of violent evictions especially in Buganda region that continue to feature in the media.
“I have held several meetings with key stakeholders and the RDCs and RCCs. I even issued written guidance to the RDCs/RCCs on this matter but the problem still persists,” she said.
In the meeting resolution, the stakeholders agreed that the Presidential Directive on land evictions should be intensified and strictly followed.
The State Minister for Lands, Hon. Sam Mayanja said some stakeholders are failing the Presidential Directive on land evictions. He said that as stakeholders, they are supposed to protect the rights of bibanja holders since their rights are clearly stated in the constitution of Uganda.
“Are bibanja holders second hand citizens who are not supposed to own land? Every Kibanja holder has constitutional security of occupancy on any type of tenure. Any order, be it court, that contradicts security occupancy of a Kibanja holder is invalid,” Hon. Mayanja said.
The Minister also expressed concern that he has been ordering arrest and charge of mailo owners who go against the law, but they have never been dealt with accordingly.
“People who carry out evictions should be charged for criminal trespass, malicious damage and threatening violence. I have not seen a state being let down by its stakeholders like it’s being done right now,” he noted.
“Your role as RDCs is to protect bibanja holders who are the majority. The interest of bibanja holders is paramount but you want to protect the few mailo owners. It’s us who are letting down the government,” he added.
The Dean of RDCs and Wakiso RDC, Ms. Justine Mbabazi thanked Hon. Babalanda for mentoring and guiding them as far as the implementation of the Presidential Directive is concerned.
“As far as land grabbing and evictions are concerned, we have done a good job in implementing His Excellency’s directive. I know there’s a lot when it comes to handling land matters. Through you, we have been successful since we always seek your guidance,” she said.
SP Eyayi Paul, the Regional Crime Intelligence said the Presidential Directive on Land Evictions have had an impact in a way that the vice has particularly reduced.
Masaka District RDC, Ms. Teopista Ssenkungu advised that in order to enhance the implementation of the Presidential Directive on Land Evictions, the Police and the Office of the RDC should always create harmony and cooperation.
“The stakeholders understood the directive but did not receive it with open mind. There’s a need as Ugandans to know that there’s a law which must be followed,” she said.
The Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions (D/DPP) Mr. James Odumbi said in most cases, evictions are controversial since no one has a right to destroy someone’s house or crops.
“Evictions involve criminal trespass and malicious damage, that is where the DPP comes in. That is an offence and destroying someone’s property is not allowed. Our view is, with the criminal cases, we should prosecute,” Mr. Odumbi noted.
Ms. Namayanja Mariam Kiwanuka, the Senior Private Secretary to the President on land matters advised that in order to fulfil the Presidential directive on land evictions, stakeholders should first deal with their own in government since on several times, some public servants in areas of Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso have been accused of aiding and getting directly involved in evictions.
“We also need to involve Jinja and Mayuge to be part of us because the problem is also shifting to those areas,” she added.
The meeting was also attended by the Principal Human Resource Officer (PHRO)- Office of the President, Mr. Herbert Atuhaire.
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