UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | President Yoweri Museveni recently issued a ban on illegal land evictions. The Minister of Lands, Judith Nabakooba, has since issued further guidelines to the Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) on implementing the President directives.
In his directive, the President made it clear that all evictions must be vetted through a structured process, and that no eviction should take place in any district without a District Security Committee meeting, chaired by the RDCs, in direct consultation with the Ministry of Lands.
The President warned that if evictions do take place without a District Security Committee meeting, he will take action on all the Members of the District Security Committee.
The President also issued a stark warning to Magistrates and Judges who violate the Constitution by illegally evicting people in collusion with land grabbers, requesting His Lordship the Chief Justice to prevail over any such Judicial officers.
The President further directed the Minister of Lands to inform the Attorney General of any abuses by Judicial officers, with a view that legal action be taken against them.
In her statement on March 11, Nabakooba described the President’s directive as “a great relief to most poor Ugandans whose lives had become miserable due to this vice [land grabbing and subsequent evictions],” noting that preventing illegal land evictions remains her ministry’s top priority.
“Illegal land evictions are happening everywhere and in all regions of the country and have turned life in the villages very difficult. They target the poor, the voiceless, and the uneducated communities, disrupting their livelihoods and hampering Government programmes aimed at empowering the citizens. On several occasions, these evictions have destroyed property and led to loss of innocent lives,” the Minister wrote, adding: “I therefore want to call upon the District Security Committees to take note of the President’s directive.”
The action by Nabakooba was preceded by a letter from President Museveni, dated February 28, 2022, addressed to Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja.
The President was categorical that the Constitution, specifically Articles 98(I) and 99(I), compel him to affect the rule of law.
Nabakooba cautioned that failure to heed the President’s directives would attract severe ramifications for the officials found guilty.
“If this is not done and evictions take place, the President will take action on all the members of the District Security Committee, except the UPDF representative, because he/she may not know the substance of the issues involved,” stated Nabakooba.
Nabakooba emphasised that the job briefs of the RDC had been enhanced to include routine surveillance, inspection, and monthly reports on the chunky land acquisitions.
She explained that scrutiny of the bulk investor purchases would streamline and ascertain that tenants and customary landowners do not encumber the land.
Under the guidelines, the RDC is tasked with presiding over the role of district mediator as stipulated in the National Land Policy, 2013.
With the high propensity for land grabbers targeting riparian zones (lands that occur along the shores of bodies of water), Nabakooba advised that the cabinet would have a collective, final, and decisive resolution.
“Evictions from critical ecological systems, forest reserves, and wetlands shall be handled as per cabinet directives. The law provides for six months and so measures should be put in place not to cause distress,” the minister stated.
She implored the RDCs to provide systematic evidence to aid the implementation of the directives.
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