Uganda Peoples Congress
Uganda Peoples Congress
Plot 8-10 Kampala Road, Uganda House,
P. O. Box 9206, Kampala
Land Grabbing is Leasing Uganda to War
(Embargoed for release at 11.00am, 31st October 2007)
- The Uganda Peoples Congress has on several occasions warned against the NRM's policy of grabbing has in some instances been done directly by the government while in most instances it has been done through government sponsored squatters, occupants, "purchasers" and more recently the marauding balaalo.
- This land grabbing has taken the form of squatters being armed to take over the UPC built public ranches in Buruli, Singo, Masaka and in Ankole. Later the government moved in to regularize this grand theft and grand despoliation through the Ranches Restructuring Scheme. Later still public land which was part of Lake Mburo National park was grabbed to form an exclusive settlement for some privileged Ugandans of a known ethnicity.
- In the 1995 Constitution, persons who had illegally settled on people's land in the chaotic 1970's were legalized. This mostly affected Mailo land in Buganda thereby rendering the Mailo interest worthless.
- The NRM then subsequently sponsored balaalo of unknown origin who have hundreds of cattle to forcefully settle on land in Queen Elizabeth National Park , Busongora, Buliisa, Kiboga, Masindi, Apac, Arua, Pallisa, Kumi and other areas. All these Balaalo land takeovers have been accompanied by ugly incidents of violence against the owners of the land. Government has never prosecuted any of the Balaalo for their acts of violence.
- Instead, the government, like it did for the hooligans who invaded and destroyed people's ranches, has moved to amend the law to make it difficult for courts of justice to make orders of eviction against illegal occupants. The pending new land bill in the offing.
- The UPC has received credible report that huge chunks of land in Amuru District are being forcefully surveyed by men and women in UPDF uniform. These "surveyors" are ferried in UPDF helicopters. Apparently this is the land slated to be given out free of charge to the famous sugar cane growers and other "investors". By the time the people in IDP camps return to their former homes, they will be met by fences and armed guards of the investors.
- Part of the scheme to grab both private and public land is the systematic destruction of survey and land administration registration records. This has enabled the fraudulent creation of new "certificate of titles: while the genuine ones are destroyed. Even public institutions that were previously jealously protected, like Makerere University, Mulago Hospital, Butabika Hospital , Public schools and protected reserves have not been spared by the ruthless grabbers.
- Faced with lack of protection from the government and apparent encouragement of the illegal land seizures, the people have been left with no alternative but to resort to self help. This self help is fast degenerating into violence. Only yesterday the press reported an incident in Apac where a community faced by ruthless land grabbing balaalo was forced to resort to cutting into piece, the herds of these balaalo. The government response was typical of the NRM, namely to beat up whoever they came across. Many residents in Tarogali village, Ibuje Sub county, Apac District have been beaten into coma by the Police and the Army as evidenced from the attach photographs which we obtain from the scene.
- No amount of state violence will stop land owners from challenging the illegal land grabbing, if the need arises, through forceful means. Government's violent response will simply aggravate the cycle of violence which will eventually engulf this country in full scale war where all of us Ugandans will be losers.
- The UPC hereby demands that government should as a matter of urgency stop its direct activities of land grabbing and restrain the other well known land grabbers.
- If the NRM government takes no immediate and firm actions to stop this scourge, the Uganda Peoples Congress shall move to mobilize the people of Uganda to take all lawful civic action to force a radical change in governance as a means to restore security, the rule of law, transparency and good governance.
For God and my Country
Mama Miria Kalule Obote
President, Uganda Peoples Congress