• Mon. Oct 2nd, 2023

UGANDA, Mukono | Real Muloodi News | Having vast land should be a blessing. However, it is not the case in Uganda with ‘land grabbing’ being such a prevalent problem. The Anglican Church of Uganda is among the institutions facing land conflicts. Squatters create many issues for landowners, particularly those whose plots are unoccupied. Today, over 2,000 people occupy church land as both tenants and squatters.

Hamu Mukasa, a former chief in the Buganda kingdom, gave the Church 262 hectares at Ntawo in Mukono district on October 27th 1939. In 2010 the Church transferred the land to Uganda Christian University (UCU), which it had founded in 1997.

Years later, people settled on the unused land, blocking UCU from possessing it. Some people like Florence Nankya, a 62-year-old, unknowingly bought plots of land from other squatters occupying the UCU land. Nankya bought a 6-by-15 metre plot of land at Ntawo village in 2006 and built a four-roomed house.

However, recently the Church of Uganda notified her family of seven that they were illegally occupying the land and threatened to evict them.

“I appeal to the government to intervene and ensure that the hundreds of tenants occupying the church land are protected from an imminent eviction,” Nankya said.

The church land in Ntawo is under the Mailo land tenure system. The holder of the land title registers and owns the land in perpetuity.

President Yoweri Museveni emphasized his dissatisfaction with the Mailo land tenure system during the Heroes Day National Celebrations in Kampala on June 9th, calling it “a very bad and evil system.”

The Ntawo land saga is not the only one that has drawn public attention recently in Uganda. In May 2021, Minister Musa Ecweru reportedly beat and injured Rev Simon Peter Olato, an Anglican priest and other two church leaders in eastern Uganda, accusing them of encroaching on his land.

Following a conflict with church leaders over land, squatters demolished the 40-year-old structure of the old St Peter’s Church building in Ndeeba in August last year. Squatters now occupy the land.

The Bishop of Mukono Diocese, James William Ssebaggala said that despite taking measures to stop land grabbing in his diocese, they have had minimal success.

The Bishop called for a review of the land laws, which he said gave too much power to squatters. Bishop Ssebaggala encouraged priests to plant trees on it to keep squatters away.

Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, the retired Archbishop of Kampala, remarked that a growing number of government officials were also grabbing the idle church land. He said this during the 54th anniversary celebrations of the Kampala Catholic Archdiocese in October last year.

The Hague in 2019 noted that, “Only a fraction of the land controlled by churches is surveyed and registered, the Church builds on trust”. 

The researchers Henni Alava and Catrine Shroff added that “Dioceses also lack the funds for surveying and few steps have been taken to gather national-level data.”

Dennis Obbo, the spokesman for Uganda’s Lands Ministry, said they would reach out to affected dioceses to teach them how to secure the land from unlawful squatters. He, however, blamed the Church for neglecting to register the land with the ministry.


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