KAMPALA – The Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters has said it has run out of funds despite hundreds of cases still needing their attention.
Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, who chairs the commission, said for the last four months, the seven-member team has not been paid.
“The public should know that people are calling us everywhere but for the last four months, we have not had any (financial) provisions for the operations of this commission so we have no provision at all, we were not on the budget,” she said in Mityana District on Monday.
“People who work for us have gone unpaid, so it is painful to watch. We wanted to keep quiet about this but when we see that there is a lot of outcry about why the commission has not come, I think it is important to know that we are resource constrained,” she added.
Justice Bamugemereire revealed that the commission was not included in the budgeting process yet they submitted their request to the Finance ministry.
“We hope to be on the budget maybe this week or end of this week or next week. And you know we have been receiving all these urgent calls from people everywhere but we have zero operational funds.”
However, she did not reveal how much is required for the commission to operate.
She made the revelation at the beginning of a hearing into a dispute regarding the eviction of more than 2,000 families from four villages in Mityana District.
The commission was appointed by the President in 2016 but effectively started work in May 2017. However, the commission has been accused of wasting state funds, with each commissioner earning Shs720,000 per sitting daily and Shs2.5m per day for foreign travels. The team has already been to UK, Ghana and South Africa.
In April, Finance ministry Permanent Secretary Keith Muhakanizi refused to release more Shs7b until the probe team accounted for the Shs13 billion they had spent.
However, President Museveni directed the Ministry of Finance to give commission the money. The President is also said to have assured them of his support as well as extending their tenure by more six months to enable them to complete their work.
Meanwhile in Mityana on Monday, the commission expressed concern over numerous evictions at the weekend in the various part of the country.
According to the judge, some of the evictions took place in defiance of the commission’s directives halting any action until investigations are done.
One of the evictions took place in Kirangira Village, Nama Sub-county in Mukono District where 300 households were demolished without a court order. The others were in Lusanja-Kiteezi in Kasangati Town Council and in Kyengera Town Council in Wakiso District.
Other evictions took place in Entebbe Municipality, Mityana and Mubende districts.
“What is the concern to us is the fact that the commission was mentioned by the evictees; this whole area of demolition and evictions is an area we have tried to stay away from as a commission, because we are aware that the courts and units in the police normally handle those things at that point,” she explained, adding: “Because the case has been heard and an order is issued and the commission does not normally interfere with that and we would not want to be involved.”