UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | There have been claims that the land on which the State House is situated was previously owned by the Kabaka. However, the Minister of State for Lands, Dr Sam Mayanja, has shed light on the matter, stating that the property, specifically freehold title plots 219 and M26, has never belonged to the Kabaka.
It is important to clarify the historical context and legal framework surrounding this issue to dispel any misconceptions.
According to Dr Sam Mayanja, contrary to popular belief, the Buganda Land Board of 1963, onto which Plot M19 and M26 were registered as freehold titles, was a constitutional body established under the provisions of the 1962 Constitution.
He says, “this constitutional arrangement was rooted in the 1900 Buganda Agreement, which allocated half of the land in Buganda to chiefs and notables as their private property.”
The remaining land became crown land. The 1908 Land Law further confirmed the rights of mailo owners, allowing them to sell, gift, or will their land as they saw fit.
Additionally, an official mailo was established for chiefs, including the Kabaka, under Section 6 of the Land Law. The Buganda Agreement (Allotment and Survey) Law of 1913 provided clarification on the ownership of private mailo and official mailo.
It is essential to understand that official mailo, including the land designated for the Kabaka under the 1900 Agreement, was never owned by traditional rulers as individuals.
Dr Sam Mayanja says: “Therefore, it could not have been confiscated from them. This distinction is crucial because, under the 1967 Constitution, Article 126(1) preserved the mailo allotted to Traditional Rulers.”
He adds,” this preservation continues to be protected under Article 237(3)(c) of the current 1995 Constitution.”
Under the 1962 Constitution, as stated in Article 118(8), the Buganda Land Board was entrusted with holding and managing crown land in Buganda for the benefit of the people.
Sections 11-16 of the 1962 Public Lands Act vested crown lands in Buganda with the Buganda Land Board in freehold.
Dr Mayanja noted that the crown land in Buganda was classified as freehold to differentiate it from official mailo, which was under the jurisdiction of the Official Estates Act.
In an attempt to implement the Traditional Rulers (Restitution of Assets and Properties) Act of 1993, an MOU was signed between the Buganda Traditional Leadership and the Government of Uganda.
However, before the implementation team could be established, the Buganda Cultural Leadership had already obtained a significant number of land titles by the end of 2014.
Dr Mayanja says, “the establishment of the implementation team would have facilitated a thorough verification of legal ownership, the determination of rights acquired by individuals occupying the land since the 1967 Constitution changes, compensation or settlement proposals, surveying of properties eligible for restoration, and necessary amendments to the Restitution Act.”
Additionally, Article 246(3)(a) of the constitution would have required the incorporation of a Public Trust to which the properties would be transferred.
The properties currently claimed by the Buganda Traditional Leadership include plots M19 and M26, where the State House and the National Water Sewerage Corporation are located.
However, it is important to clarify that these plots are freehold titles and were originally crown land under the administration of the Buganda Land Board from 1962 to 1967.
The Buganda Land Board Limited, the current entity responsible for the land, is a private company with one shareholder.
Its legal status as a private company, indicated by the term “limited,” prevents it from constitutionally holding and administering public land.
By providing a historical and legal context, Minister of State for Lands, Dr Sam Mayanja, aims to dispel misconceptions regarding the ownership of the land on which the State House sits.
Dr Mayanja asserts that the property has never been Kabaka’s land, and it is crucial to acknowledge the constitutional provisions that have guided its administration.
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