• Mon. Sep 25th, 2023

UGANDA, Wakiso | Real Muloodi NewsWakiso District is at the centre of a land dispute as more than 1,000 bibanja holders fight to keep their homes on land that has been handed over to a surveyor.

The plot, measuring 1,044.9 acres, has been contested for years by the families of the late Gabudyeri Lubajja, whose land administrators gave more than 150 acres to KATA Geomatics Company’s Ms Berna Nakato for surveying and processing land titles.

The company was to conduct land divisions, and the exercise resulted in the allocation of 50 acres of land to each of the nine Lubajja families.

The bibanja holders have lived on the land, covering several villages, for decades and are now waiting to find out whether they will be able to stay in their homes.


The land on Busiro Block 53 Plot 15 has been the subject of controversy for many years, with more than 1,000 bibanja holders fighting for the right to stay in their homes.

The disputed land covers several villages, including Busamba, Gayaza, Kanziro, Kabuye, and Kinyika/Kiryankoko.

The families of the late Gabudyeri Lubajja have been the legal owners of the land, but the question of ownership has remained contested by the bibanja holders, who have paid nominal ground rent, known as busuulu, over the years.

The bibanja holders are protected by the Land Act, which stipulates that the only condition under which a landlord can evict a kibanja holder or tenant is when they have not paid their ground rent.

Surveyor Acquires Land

On Friday, February 24 2023, Mr Richard Ssemitala, one of the alleged administrators of the Lubajja Estate, stated that the family had allocated 150 acres of land to KATA Geomatics Company in exchange for surveying and processing land titles.

According to Mr Ssemitala, the nine families of the Lubajja Estate were unable to raise the funds needed to open land boundaries, divide the land among family members, and acquire land titles.

The only option they had was to offer the land in exchange for services.

KATA Geomatics Company has been conducting land divisions, and the result has been the allocation of 50 acres of land to each of the nine Lubajja families.

The 150 acres allocated to Ms Berna Nakato, owner of KATA Geomatics Company is part of the contested land, yet it’s the same land where the bibanja holders have lived for generations.

Legal Ownership and Process

Ms Nakato confirmed that the land she acquired was part of the contested land and that the deal was legal.

“I was approached by the administrators of the land and the head of the Mbogo Clan who asked me to open boundaries, subdivide the land and help them to process land title. We were paid 150 acres of land for that job which was indicated in their inventory. I processed my title on January 12 and we have not chased anyone off the land,” Ms Nakato said.

“Whatever I did was legal. I was helping out these poor people. The administrators had letters of administration which they acquired in 2010, had a land title, had filed the inventory and their file for the subdivision was ready,” she added.

The land administrators, who had letters of administration, asked her to help them with the surveying and land title processing. They were paid 150 acres of land, which were listed in their inventory.

“It is true that Ms Nakato has a land title for plot 388. It is not a surprise to us as a family that we allocated 150 acres of land to her. Ms Nakato is among the owners of KATA Geomatics. We agreed with this company to help us open boundaries, carry out land division, and secure land titles. We didn’t have the money to pay her, but she instead agreed to foot all the bills in exchange with 150 acres of land. It is wrong to politicise this issue,” Mr Ssemitala said.

Ms Nakato received her title on January 12 and has not evicted any bibanja holders.

Mr Ssemitala said the occupants of the land would decide whether to pay ground rent or buy the land by acquiring the land titles.

A special title was processed for the land a decade ago when the original title could not be found.

Family and Bibanja Holders Seek Court Protection

A group of five family members, with the support of over 1,000 bibanja holders, have filed a lawsuit against the alleged administrators of the estate of the late Gabudyeri Lubajja, including Mr Ssemitala and Eusterius Ssegantebuka.

These families and bibanja holders have been living under the threat of eviction since last December. All parties were expected to appear before the registrar on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

150-acre Land Transaction Disputed

Mathias Mulumba Ssegantebuka, a lawyer and another grandchild of Lubajja, has questioned the allocation of 150 acres of land to Nakato, claiming that the transaction between the administrators and Nakato was illegal.

According to Section 333A of the amended Succession Act, what Nakato did was illegal, and her title will be cancelled by the court.

An application for an interim was scheduled for Tuesday, March 14, 2023, which will stop Nakato from doing any anything, followed by a temporary injunction until the final determination of the matter.

Officials Halt Activities on the Disputed Land

On December 20, 2022, officials from Wakiso District and the Ministry of Lands held a meeting with the two families and bibanja holders.

During the meeting, Minister Nabakooba halted all activities on the disputed land to protect the bibanja holders.

The Bibanja Holders’ Dilemma

The controversy surrounding the allocation of land to the surveyor has left many bibanja holders in a precarious situation. For decades, they have lived on the land and have been paying ground rent, also known as busuulu, to the Lubajja family.

However, they were not informed of the transaction that saw 150 acres of land given away to the surveyor in exchange for her services.

The bibanja holders fear that they could be kicked off the land without due process, given that the family has already given away a large portion of the contested land.

The uncertainty has also made it difficult for the bibanja holders to make long-term investments in the land. Many of them have been living on the land for generations and have built homes, farms, and other structures.

However, without a guarantee of ownership, they cannot access credit from financial institutions to develop their properties or secure their livelihoods.

Bibanja Holders’ Fate

The bibanja holders’ fate hangs in the balance as they wait to hear whether they will be able to keep their homes.

The Minister for Lands, Judith Nabakooba, had not stopped the demarcation of the land, according to Mr Ssemitala.

However, she did say that family members who had received their portions should not evict the bibanja holders.

“The minister did not stop the demarcation but she said family members who had received their portions should not evict the bibanja holders. We have never evicted anyone. As I speak, about 20 squatters have agreed to get titles. Officials from KATA Geomatics are helping us to ensure that the process does not displace anyone,” he said.

Mr Ssemitala said the bibanja holders would not be evicted but would need to come to an agreement.

“The demarcation is ongoing and the titles are out. Each family has received its portion of 50 acres each. As a family, we sat and agreed that bibanja holders will not be evicted, but will agree with a given family to either pay busuulu or buy the land/acquire the land titles,” Mr Ssemitala explained.

Legal Implications

The allocation of land to the surveyor could have legal implications, as it was done without the knowledge or consent of the bibanja holders.

The Land Act provides that a kibanja holder has a right to a leasehold interest in the kibanja and can apply for a certificate of title after fulfilling certain conditions, including paying busuulu.

However, the allocation of land to the surveyor could be seen as a breach of the rights of the bibanja holders, who have a legitimate claim to the land.

The surveyor could also be held liable for any damages suffered by the bibanja holders as a result of her actions.

Although Ms Nakato says she was paid 150 acres of contested Busamba land, under section 333A of the Succession Act, the beneficiary’s estate cannot be part of the payment for any services rendered.

“A person who acts on behalf of a beneficiary of an estate in any matter shall not acquire any part of interest of the beneficiary in the estate as payment for the services rendered,” the Act reads in part.


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