Uganda’s president stops plans seeking to review and amend the Land Act CAP 227 that sought to curb widespread illegal land evictions | Land Portal
Witness Radio team
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Earlier this year (2023), the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development announced plans to amend the act to strengthen the rights and obligations of Lawful and Bonafide Occupants on registered land to curb illegal land evictions.

The ministry wanted the Act to provide for; where to deposit nominal ground rent (Busuulu) in instances where the landlord is absent; rejects the ground rent; and where landlord cannot be found; the registration of landlords and their respective tenants through a register that shall be kept at the Sub-County level; Establishment of Mediation Committees in Landlord-tenant areas to mediate disputes; the mandatory visiting of locus by judicial officers in all cases before an order of eviction is granted and; reviewing the provisions on ground rent to provide for economic rent in urban areas as opposed to nominal rent in rural areas.

The second area the ministry wanted to focus on in the amendment process, was to amend the Land Act to streamline the functionality of Land Management institutions namely; District Land Boards, City Land Boards, Areas Land Committees, District Land offices, and traditional land management institutions in respect to; Inspection, allocation and management of land in districts and cities; reviewing membership and qualifications for members of Land Management Institutions taking into account the new administrative boundaries of cities and districts; establishing City Land Boards and their membership; providing for approval of District/ City Land Boards by the Minister responsible for Lands upon appointment by District Councils. (In the printing of the Land Act Section 58(1) was inadvertently omitted yet it was passed by parliament); reviewing the qualifications, roles, and responsibilities of the Secretary to the District/City Land Board; and Providing for the Role of Chief Administrative Officer/Town clerk in the management of Land under their jurisdiction as provided for under the Public Finance Management Act, 2015 among others.

In other areas, the ministry wanted to amend the Act to provide for the establishment of a Customary land register and create the proposed Customary Certificate of Title in the National Land Policy 2013 as a form of registration for land held under Customary Tenure; and provide for the management, allocation, renewal, surrender, and variation of leases under the Management of Uganda Land Commission, District Land Boards and City Land Boards among other issues.

The proposed reforms had brought some relief across the land justice actors with hopes that serious gaps, which have been used to illegally evict local communities off their bibanja or land will be bridged. With the above interests, many civil society groups embarked on national consultative processes to collect views and comments to contribute to the amendment process.

According to Witness Radio – Uganda’s data, many bibanja holders have been illegally evicted by their landlords on the grounds of not paying a nominal ground rate. Many victims accuse landlords of deliberately refusing the nominal ground rate while others hide in order not to be paid.

According to local media, while addressing the Cabinet meeting last week, President Museveni halted all reforms in the land Act land saying, the cabinet should focus on the Parish Development Model (PDM).

PDM is a Government strategy or approach for organizing and delivering public and private sector interventions for wealth creation and employment generation at the parish level as the lowest economic planning unit.

Museveni is counting on PDM to reduce poverty in households.

Uganda remains one of the poorest countries in the world. In 2019/2020, 12.3 million people (30.1% of the population) lived below the poverty line of U.S. $1.77 per person per day (Uganda Bureau of Statistics, 2021).

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