| Its a full plate for the new Minister of Lands Hon. Judith Nabakooba -as she intervenes- to stop blood shed- in yet another nasty land wrangle this time in the western district of Rwampara where the locals are fighting each other over land ownership rights. Nabakooba has since issued directives to protect the vulnerable communities who are variously threatened with illegal evictions by the mighty and powerful –rich land grabbers. |
The disputed land comprises four cells located in Rugando Sub-county and Kinoni Town Council, Rwampara District and was offered to a group of people and the Catholic Church in the 1950s by the then Ankole Kingdom officials- measuring 300 hectares.
But the residents under Kitwe-Nyamatete Farmers Co. Ltd have since petitioned the Lands Minister claiming that a one Robert Rutabembererwa, the Executive Director of Birya United Agency is now acting violent and threatening them with eviction . It is alleged that Rutabembererwa has since illegally changed the ownership of the land from Kitwe-Nyamatete Farmers Co. Ltd to his company Birya United Agency Ltd.
Angry residents who met Minister Nabakooba to express their grievances over the disputed land want government to stop Rutabembererwa in his tracks- in order to restore peace and harmony in the community . The catholic church has also been moved to petition the Lands Minister to subdivide the land and have its 6.718 hectares curved out of the disputed land. Tensions are rising in Rwampara the reason why Minister Nabakooba had to intervene on the dot.
“We request to remove our church land that measurers 6.718 hectares from this disputed land that was encroached on by Nyamatete Farmers- before they transferred their interests to Birya United Agency limited,” Fr Aloysius Kashamba who represented the church in a meeting called for the residents to air their grievances to the minister –stated .
Giving a history of the land Fr Aloysious Kashamba from Mbarara Archdiocese told Minister Nabakooba that the District Land Commission in 1963 gave some land to the Catholic Church and later in 1989, it (the Catholic Church) applied for a lease offer and it was granted a 5- year lease. Nyamatete Farmers also applied and got a lease title on the same piece of land in 1993 before the Church’s lease period expired . Fr Kashamba said Nyamatete had therefore encroached on church land. During the meeting various parties appealed to the Minister to streamline land administration in the Country and resolve issues where different parties have been conferred land rights on the same Land thus creating bloody conflicts.
Nabakooba speaks out
In her response Minister Nabakooba told the worried residents that government had stopped all illegal evictions as measures are put in place to streamline land administration in the Country . She stated that land grabbers who use money and connections to “powerful” people in government to evict wanaichi will not be allowed during her tenure as Minister of Lands –stressing that security of tenure for the unprivileged is going to be prioritized.
Nabakooba expressed concerned about the conduct of the land registrars in her Ministry who especially in the Mbarara land zonal office who vacated three caveats yet there was a clear dispute over the land in question . “This I can assure you heads are going to roll. We can’t have such people serving in these offices. I am going to take action. I need to know whether the due process was followed in leasing out this public land,” Nabakooba stated .
About ownership, the Minister guided that since the land dispute is yet to be deterimined by courts of law , the residents will be allowed to staye on the land under the land law governing bona fide and lawful ownership since majority of the people who are settled on the land are descendants of the former owners, which makes them owners too.
Minister Nabakooba issues administrative directives
A tough talking Nabakooba has since issued administrative directives over the disputed land saying that police will be in charge of protecting the residents until a final settlement is reached . She said the locals will be free to graze their animals . The Minister also directed the Land Protection Office to investigate the matter widely from the 1950s to- date to establish the where due processes were followed when the land ownership changed hands and if errors made who are the officials responsible and whether they were held accountable for their mistakes.
Nabakooba called for a register of all the people on the disputed land and assured the residents that all those responsible for their misery will be brought to book.
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