09.04.2018

Colloquium to adopt the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters in Uganda.

Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Hon. Betty Amongi assured participants that the final recommendations by the Land Commission of Inquiry would be subjected to discussions by various stakeholders including a white paper to the cabinet and perhaps a parliamentary session before any of them are adopted. Besides that, Amongi emphasized the fact that the Mailo land system is constitutional, so it cannot be removed without going through a thorough consultative process.

The Panel (Photo: FES Uganda)

Colloquium to adopt recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters in Uganda.

 “I trust the commission will make recommendations without any bias and their recommendations will be based on the findings of their investigations and not just their opinions.” Charles Peter Mayiga, Katikiro of Buganda Kingdom,

The Uganda Law Society (ULS) with the support of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Uganda organized a half day colloquium on the 4th of April at the Golden Tulip Canaan Hotel. The event provided a platform to critically assess the recommendations from the Land Commission Inquiry and encouraged reflection and debate on the way lessons for the future can be generated. Stakeholders from different backgrounds were given the opportunity to collectively address the real and critical issues affecting land in Uganda today.

The President of the ULS Francis Gimara who opened the meeting pointed out the importance of observing the rule of law while analysing any proposed changes in the land systems and laws.

During the discussion, Owekitibwa David Mpanga (Attorney General Buganda Kingdom) stressed that land problems concern everyone and in order to find suitable solutions one has to think holistically, sustainably and long term. A one size fits all solution will not solve any problems.

Sylivia Namubiru (ED LAPSNET) expressed her delight with the recommendation to fast track the legal aid policy. This would go a long way in helping the poor who are most affected by land issues. Additionally she pointed out the need for the policy to prioritize their protection. The need to strengthen the customary land ownership structures, as opposed to conversion of the same to “customary freehold”- a term described as ambiguous was raised by Ms. Judy Adoko (ED LEMU). Customary land would serve not only the purpose of an individual but a whole family.

“The Elephants in the room” such as corruption, were raised several times as one of the recommendations calls for strong and punitive accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms in the land sector to be urgently put in place and implemented in line with zero tolerance to corruption policy.

Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Hon. Betty Amongi assured participants that the final recommendations by the Land Commission of Inquiry would be subjected to discussions by various stakeholders including a white paper to the cabinet and perhaps a parliamentary session before any of them are adopted. Besides that, Amongi emphasized the fact that the Mailo land system is constitutional, so it cannot be removed without going through a thorough consultative process.

Even though the interim recommendations by the Land Commission of Inquiry have been received by many with mixed feelings, with some sections of the media reporting that some cultural groups like the Buganda Kingdom feel the Commission was set up to target land belonging to them. In his closing remarks, Charles Peter Mayiga, Katikiro of Buganda Kingdom, said he trusts the commission will make recommendations without any bias and their recommendations will be based on the findings of their investigations and not just their opinions.

Below are the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters discussed at the meeting:

  1. The multiple land administration, management and conservation agencies be merged into two super bodies.
  2. District land boards and Area Land Committees be dissolved and their mandate passed on to the proposed Land Authority.
  3. Legal and Policy reforms undertaken to facilitate the restructuring of the land sector’s institutional arrangements, enhance accountability and address historic distortions.  Reduction of current land tenures from four to perhaps three; freehold, customary freehold and leasehold. All government land to be held under freehold by the state.
  4. Implement a nationwide survey and titling of all land, including customary land with government support through the Land Fund.
  5. The Uganda Land Commission to be abolished and its functions under the new Authority be limited to holding public land only.
  6. A futuristic Land Bank be developed to relieve government of heavy financial burdens and delays associated with land acquisition for public works.
  7. The Land Fund be purposively capitalized and restructured to work effectively under the Land Authority.
  8.   The office of the Chief Government valuer be restructured and streamlined and merged under the Authority.
  9. Strong and punitive accountability and anti- corruption mechanisms in the land sector be urgently put in place and implemented in line with zero tolerance to corruption policy.
  10. All land fraud investigations should be broadened to include the participation of the Financial Intelligence Authority, the Inspectorate of Government and other key criminal justice agencies.
  11. All illegally allocated and acquired government and public land be recovered through cancellation of illegally acquired land titles and holding all those found capable to account.
  12. Government to urgently halt the illegal encroachment on protected forests and wetlands and restore these to the status of 1990.
  13.  A consolidated and validated national database be urgently developed that includes the NFA map data, the wetlands atlas and government institutional land.
  14. Strengthen pre- land transaction identification processes by mandatory use of National Identification for citizens and relevant documentation for foreigners
  15. The re- establishment of District Land Tribunals as full time dispute resolution mechanisms with an expanded membership and chaired by a Grade One magistrate.
  16. The mediation function provided under the Land Act is re- structured to provide for the option of disputing parties to each appoint an additional mediator.
  17. The 2012 Draft Legal Aid Policy be expeditiously considered and passed by Cabinet.
  18. Interest of Cultural Institutions, religious bodies and women must be represented in the composition of district based land administration and dispute resolution for a, and also within wildlife conservation and benefits sharing processes.
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