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: