Land minister expresses discomfort on the Buganda’s “Kyapa mungalo” campaign

Lands Minister Betty Amongi has questioned the mass land titling campaign by Buganda Kingdom’s Land Board.

Buganda Land Board (BLB) is running the “Land Title in your Hands”, a campaign aimed at granting mainly 49-year leases for tenants on Buganda Kingdom land. The campaign targets those occupying the land without official documentation.

The Central government seems to be uncomfortable with the new arrangement which some have said may fuel mass land evictions on land owned by the Kabaka of Buganda or the kingdom.

Minister Amongi in a speech at the opening of the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire Commission of Inquiry into Land matters said she was listening to the issues emerging from the mass land titling exercise.

Amongi asked the Commission of Inquiry to also focus on Buganda Land Board campaign as part of the other issues to be addressed. She questioned what would happen to those holding the lease titles when the 49 years expire.

Though Amongi says she was expressing her personal opinion on the campaign dubbed “Ekyapa Mungalo”, sources have indicated that President Museveni is not comfortable with it. The President has reportedly demanded for the protection of the Bibanja settlers who are bonafide occupants under customary tenure.

President Museveni met Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi early last month but the details of the meeting at State House Entebbe were not made public. The Katikkiro of Buganda, Charles Peter Mayiga and Prince David Wasajja were part of it.

President Museveni in April 2014 returned 213 land titles to Buganda Kingdom with a caution to the kingdom against evicting tenants settled on the land. The titles are part of the properties that the government forcefully occupied after the 1966 attack on the Mengo Palace that saw the then Kabaka Edward Mutesa exiled.

Over twenty thousand leasehold certificates have so far been issued to tenants who were settled on the land government returned to Buganda.

Buganda Kingdom’s Land, Agriculture and Environment Minister, Engineer Martin Kasekende in a reaction to the Minister’s statement defended the decision to have tenants on Buganda land issued with lease titles upon paying a fee ranging from 100,000 – 600,000 shillings. He was one of the Cultural leaders’ representatives present at function held at the National Archives and Records Centre.

Engineer Kasekende explained that Buganda Kingdom would not be having any land left itf its predecessors allocated land to individuals for perpetual ownership.

The “Land title in your hands” matter has generated debate within Buganda with some criticising it.  One of Kabaka’s subjects, Male  Mabirizi Kiwanuka towards end of April this year sued the Kabaka challenging his directive on issuance of land titles to tenants on the Kingdom’s land.

Meanwhile, Buganda Land Board (BLB) has been running newspaper advertisements defending the mass titling of the kingdom land. The Board says it acknowledges the fact that there is a special relationship between the kingdom and people of Buganda.

It said the Kabaka under that relationship offers a maximum of 99-year-leasehold term and a minimum of 49 years to all tenants on kingdom land for those who wish to acquire leasehold titles.

Buganda Land Board says the acquisition of leasehold titles is voluntary and that any Kibanja holder not interested in leasehold title will remain a Kibanja holder with full rights.