KAMPALA — Lands Minister Judith Nabakooba has issued additional details—guiding RDCs on President Museveni’s recent directive on stopping illegal evictions.
In a statement dated March 11, Nabakooba who described President Museveni’s directive as
“a great relief to most poor Ugandans whose lives had become miserable due to this vice [land grabbing and subsequent evictions]” noted that stopping illegal land evictions remains her ministry’s top priority.
“Illegal land evictions are happening everywhere and in all regions of the country and have turned life in the villages very difficult. They target the poor, the voiceless, and the uneducated communities, disrupting their livelihoods and hampering Government programmes aimed at empowering the citizens. On several occasions, these evictions have destroyed property and led to loss of innocent lives,” the Minister wrote, adding:
“…. over the years, people participating in these evictions have been ignoring all the existing legal procedures.”
Last week President Museveni banned all illegal evictions— directing that no eviction should be allowed to take place in a district without the District Security Committee, chaired by the RDCs, meeting, looking and consulting directly the Minister of Lands.
“If this is not done and evictions take place, the President will take action on all the members of the District Security Committee, except the UPDF representative because he/she may not know the substance of the issues involved,” Nabakooba wrote in new directives to RDCs.
Mr. Museveni in his letter also requested Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo to prevail on his magistrates and judges from violating the Constitution by illegally evicting people in collusion with land grabbers. The other directive was that Nabakooba should write to Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka about abuses by judicial officers so that legal action can be taken on them.
The Minister also says she will be issuing a circular to all RDCs and CAOs on implementing this directive. She also urged District Security Committees to adjust their terms of reference to include implementing the presidential directive: ensure that no land eviction takes place especially on unregistered or land with tenants on it. Nabakooba also made it clear that rent or busuulu will remain basic or nominal because the occupants cannot afford economic rent.
Nabakooba further reminded the RDCs, who chair the District Security Committees, of their roles under the land sector including advising the lands minister on all eviction-related matters reported in their respective districts; complying with the presidential ban on land evictions; monitoring, inspecting and reporting, on a monthly basis, the land acquired by large scale land investors in order to ensure that land being taken over is not occupied by tenants or customary land owners; carrying out the function of district mediator as provided for in the National Land Policy, 2013, as a means of curbing all evictions; as well as drawing the attention to the Ministry of Lands on any divergence from or noncompliance with government policies, laws and presidential directives on land evictions.
Nabakooba has now urged RDCs to be vigilant so that they can feed her office with evidence-based information on all eviction related matters. She also encouraged Ugandans to report their grievances on land matters.
“I call upon everyone who feels they are being violated or threatened to reach out to your local leaders for protection against destroying your livelihoods and causing landlessness in this country,” she said.
“Find your RDCs and tell them about those threatening you with eviction so that necessary action is taken.”