Government is halting issuance of leasehold titles to individuals and companies for a three months tenure. This is to help put in place regulations and guidelines regarding the control, management, disposal of government land in the constitution.
During a media briefing this morning at Uganda Media Centre, Betty Amongi Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development said “We are freezing issuance of leasehold titles to individuals and companies.” She emphasized that issuance of public and government land titles will only take effect following a written directive from the President, Cabinet and Uganda Investment Authority.
“District Land Boards have failed to observe that they hold public land in trust for the Citizens of Uganda. As such, it has become a source of conflict between the government, communities and citizens,” She said.
Government land is land vested in or acquired by the government in accordance with the constitution; or acquired by the government abroad; or land lawfully held, occupied and/or used by Government and its agencies even if it is reserved for future use; and for the purpose of carrying out the functions of government.
On the other hand, Public land is territory reserved or held and used for a public purpose. It may include open spaces, public infrastructure and land with a revisionary interest held by the District Land Boards under Section 59 (8) of the land Act.
Amongi expressed disappointment towards inadequate documentation of government land in the recent times, consequently numerous conflicts, encroachment and squandering of public resources.
“Arising out of these challenges, I have set up a Committee to be chaired by the Minister of State for Housing Hon. Chris Baryomunsi to address the following issues with regard to the management of government land,” Minster Amongi told members of the media.
The Committee is mandated to determine the extent of government and public land on the ground through compiling a comprehensive government land inventory; determine boundaries of individual holdings through overseeing adjudication, and titling of such territories; counsel on how to manage or reclaim encroached government and public land under dispute; document how to resolve through mediation or any alternative means conflicts between government and any authorities who may lay claims.
On curbing land evictions, Minster of State of Housing Chris Baryomunsi present at the same meet, stated that the committee will help sensitize bibanja holders on their land rights, “Most of these evictions are illegal and are not lawful.”
Baryomunsi said, “People are evading the law out of impunity… we want to assure you that the committee will empower the people.”
He continued, “There are very many policy and administration policies we are undertaking.”
Land evictions still persist today despite legal and administrative measures in place. The definition of rights accorded to lawful and bonafide occupants in the Land Act (Cap 227) continue to be contested by Landowners. The nominal ground rent provided for is largely ignored, leading to a land use deadlock between the tenants and the registered land owners, hence disputes and in many instances evictions.
It is on this basis that a coordinating committee on land disputes and evictions for all government agencies involved in land evictions and selected local leaders shall be put in place chaired by the Minister of State for Lands, Persis Namagunza.