KAMPALA — President Yoweri Museveni has cautioned landlords against grabbing land from tenants (bibanja holder), vowing tough sanctions against them.
In his end of year address, the president threatened also to take action against landlords who overcharge tenants or force them to surrender their plots of land or to acquire land titles.
Museveni said anyone removing bibanja holders on their land is acting illegally and that “the NRM will not tolerate this”.
Museveni pointed out the following as the rightful bibanja owners that should never at any point be disturbed.
1. The one who was given a Kibanja by the landlord or his agent;
2. The one who was in that Kibanja by 1983 or before even if he was not allowed there by the landlord or his agent. We called this one bonafide occupant;
3. The one who inherited from either of the above two;
4. The one who bought from either one of the two above; and
5. The first to settle on a Kibanja on Public land (Kutembuura) or to settle in an itoongo (abandoned land).
He, however, warned the dishonest people who illegally enter other peoples’ land warning that “this is criminal”.
“We shall protect the legal bibanja owners. We shall also protect the land-owners who are productively using their land,” he said.
He added the country needs the big landowners that are using their land economically to grow cotton, tobacco, maize, sugar-cane, cattle ranching, forestry, coffee, fruits, dairy farming, among others.
“Some of these enterprises cannot be economically viable on small pieces of land. Be legal and productive, we shall stand with you,” he added.
On the issue of the disasters (landslides, floods, etc), he much as there was heavy rain the bigger problem is the disrespect for the environment.
“God provided for us carefully and deliberately. Mountains are clothed with forest and swamps are clothed with papyrus and swamp grass-like ebigugu (cyperus latfolia). This vegetation cover protects the soil on the hillsides from the strong rain-drops (amakaanda), the under-growth and the bed of leaves on the ground slows down the run-off water (Omuttunga, Omukoka, alele) the roots of the trees hold the soil, the slowing down of the run-off water forces water to sink in the ground and, therefore, replenish the underground water – table and the vegetation filters the mutuunga water so that it enters the rives when it is free of soil and silt.”
He added that in the wetlands, the swamp grass, again, filters the swamp water so that it enters the Lakes and rivers when it is free of soil and silt. The swamp grass, through transpiration, sucks water from the swamp and throws it in the atmosphere for rain-formation.
Museveni said that encroaching on the swamps, invading the natural high-rise forests or settling on Mountain –slopes steeper than 32o is suicide for the individuals, as has been repeatedly confirmed in the Rwenzori and Elgon areas, but is, also, suicide for the country of Uganda and for the African continent.