UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Three days before Christmas, Minister of Lands, Judith Nabakooba, issued a directive halting the eviction of bonafide land occupants by landlords and their agents over the Christmas and New Year festive season.
“All Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) and district police commanders are directed not to implement any eviction order this festive season between December 23, 2022 and January 6, 2023,” Nabakooba announced in her ministerial message for this festive season.
“This is because many unscrupulous individuals use holiday periods to harass tenants and conduct land evictions, well aware that most government officials are out of station and cannot intervene in protection of lawful and bonafide occupants,” she said.
She added, “The Government will not entertain reports of land evictions as they move into the festive season, at a time when citizens are supposed to be at home celebrating the Christmas and New Year season.”
Nabakooba also directed District Security Committees chaired by the respective RDCs to assist lawful and Bonafide occupants to remain and enjoy quiet possession of their bibanja (plots), and confirmed that the minister of internal affairs and the Inspector General of Police have been notified of her directives.
She also emphasised the guidance and directives of President Yoweri Museveni against evicting bonafide occupants, in compliance with the 1995 Constitution, the Land Act (Cap. 227 as amended); Registration of Titles Act Cap 230, Mortgage Act, Cap 229.
“There should be no evictions of lawful and bonafide occupants. Forceful land sharing arrangements by landlords which may lead to threatened evictions of occupants are prohibited, and where a landlord chooses to sell land to a different person other than the occupants during the festive season should be informed that the rights of the existing tenants are not affected in any way,” she said.
Nabakooba also instructed landlords who sell their land to introduce the occupants to the new landlord for purposes of paying Busuulu (annual ground rent fees) and seeking their consent to acquire certificates of occupancy.
She also took the opportunity to highlight the achievements that the ministry has made during her tenure as Lands Minister. In particular, the distribution of free land titles to customary land owners in response to the people’s demand for legal documents in order to protect their land ownership rights.
“I am happy to announce that this year, we managed to issue land titles to citizens from Apac, Agago, Maracha, Terego, Mbarara, lbanda, Rwampara, Kiruhura, Mbale City, Moroto, Amudat, Kabale and Oyam districts,” she said.
The Ministry has also handled land disputes in those areas, she added.
“These land disputes have caused public outcry in the country but most especially in Buganda and Bunyoro regions yet the security of occupancy of tenants (bibanja holders) on registered land is guaranteed by the 1995 Constitution [Art. 237 (8)] and the Land Act [CAP 227],” the minister stated.
In the new year, she said, the lands ministry and Uganda Land Commission will continue to give priority to ensuring titles that have been acquired through the Land Fund for tenanted land in Buganda and Bunyoro are processed to give the sitting lawful and bonafide occupants their land titles. She said the ministry will begin with issuing certificates for land owners in Butaleja district in the New Year, 2023.
She also highlighted the benefits of including women on land titles, acknowledging the importance of the ‘Stand for Her Land’ Ugandan campaign, which spearheads women’s land rights.
“The women specifically demanded to be included on the family land titles as the Land Act stipulates. This has been done. Indeed, everywhere the ministry has handed over titles to women have constituted between 38% and 50% of the beneficiaries,” she said.
“I hope this collaboration shall continue even in 2023. The National Resistance Movement Government is therefore applauded for supporting women and other marginalised groups who were only involved in confirming boundaries of their neighbours and signing as witnesses on landforms to now becoming family land owners,” she said.
“Illegal land evictions were the biggest challenge we faced this year. As part of resolving this issue of illegal land evictions, the Government issued certificates of occupancy to bibanja owners and has made sure that the tenants pay busuulu to the landlords, and the landlords have equally given consent to encumber the rights of the tenants on their Mailo titles in the Land Registry,” Nabakooba said.
She noted that where these certificates of occupancy have been issued, evictions have tremendously reduced to zero because any search of the title in the Land Registry indicates that the land has tenants and a record of their bibanja sizes are known and protected by the Government.
“The plan is to roll out this intervention to ensure that bibanja owners too acquire a Government document that protects their land interests,” she said.
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