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Govt to Mengo: back off State House land

A report submitted by the lands ministry to President Museveni about 10 days ago says Buganda kingdom has no right to the 4.4 acres of State House land that it had sought to claim.

This revelation could pave the way for Museveni to backtrack on his promise to buy the contested land from Mengo, resulting in Buganda kingdom losing up to Shs 20 billion that it expected to receive from the government.

The Observer has obtained a copy of a May 16, 2017 letter written by Lands minister Betty Amongi to Museveni, in which she says the contested land is owned by Uganda Land Commission, and not Buganda kingdom.

“If the 2013 memorandum between the central government and the Kabaka of Buganda did mention Plot No. M.26 Entebbe as one of the properties that were returned to the Kabaka of Buganda, then it must have been included in error,” she wrote. “Therefore, the current entry of proprietorship in Uganda Land Commission should be maintained on Freehold Register Volume 94 Folio 16, the land having been crown land.”

Amongi’s three-page letter is copied to nine senior government officials, including the vice president, prime minister, attorney general and the chairman  of Uganda Land Commission.

In the letter, Amongi tells Museveni, “I hope, Your Excellency, this clarifies this matter. And we shall be available to provide historical records to prove the above facts.”

State House Entebbe

When contacted for comment on this new development on Saturday, the spokesperson of the Buganda Land Board, Denis Bugaya, told The Observer that they had heard about the contents of Amongi’s letter, but added that Buganda kingdom’s land body had not received a copy.

“Such a letter should have been copied to Mengo because it concerns issues that we have raised with government,” Bugaya said, adding that he could not comment about its contents without reading it first.

MUSEVENI PROMISE

The Kabaka first laid claim to the land on which part of State House Entebbe sits in a letter dated January 31, 2017, which he sent to President Museveni. The letter said plot M.26 has always been property of Buganda kingdom and suggested that, among other issues, the government should take out a lease.

Museveni replied two months later. According to correspondences seen by The Observer, Museveni acknowledged in his initial response that the land indeed belongs to Buganda. However, the president suggested that Buganda would have to allow the government to buy the land (Plot No M.26), and put the matter to rest.

“I have noted the contents of your letter dated January 31, 2017 regarding plot M.26, land located at State House, Entebbe grounds. I will request the minister of Lands and the Attorney General to verify the ownership of the plot. If it is indeed part of the lands which were handed to His Highness in 2013, then my proposal is government buys it. We do not like the idea of rent. It becomes a perpetual hemorrhage on the treasury. Owning such plots is better than leasing,” Museveni wrote.

But Mengo, and the kabaka specifically, preferred a long-term lease arrangement through which the kingdom would be assured of consistent payments from government, in addition to retaining ownership of the land.

The Observer understands that this land was the main subject of the meeting between President Museveni and Kabaka Mutebi on April 8. The meeting happened months after Museveni and the Kabaka had exchanged correspondences over the matter.

According to our sources, during the meeting, senior officials from Mengo had bandied around a figure of Shs 20 billion for a 49-year lease for the 4.4 acres of land.

But Museveni did not concur. He called for more consultations to be done before they reach a final solution. After the meeting, Museveni asked his Lands minister and attorney general to speed up their investigation into the matter and then advise him.

NEW TWIST

The result of the investigation is Amongi’s May 16, 2016 letter to Museveni, which has added an intriguing twist to the matter. Replying to Museveni’s instruction to probe the matter further, Amongi explains in her letter that her ministry has found that the land belongs to the central government.

“Plot No M.26 Entebbe is registered under freehold register volume 94 folio 16 in the name of Buganda Land Board having been registered on a transfer dated 3rd May 1963 from Uganda Land Commission under instrument No 154993 of August 28, 1963. The current registered proprietor of the said land is Uganda Land Commission (under article 108 of the constitution),” she wrote.

GOVT-MENGO DEAL IMPASSE

New information obtained by The Observer also indicates that in the April meeting, Mengo officials complained that some senior government officials were frustrating the implementation of an agreement signed on August 1, 2013 between Museveni and the kabaka.

In the agreement, the government undertook to revert to Buganda the former estate of the Buganda kingdom comprised on land in urban centres and the kingdom’s former administrative centres, among other key properties.

Some Mengo officials pointed out that some government officials were “hostile” towards Mengo in the media yet it had been agreed – according to the agreement – that both parties should not engage in any hostilities.

However, the revelation of the government’s latest position on the State House land is likely to further scuttle the implementation of the agreement between Buganda and Uganda, as well as drive a wedge in the precarious relationship between Museveni and Mutebi.

ekiggundu@observer.ug

Comments

0 #11 muhesi 2017-06-21 16:33
All deals made in the infamous Buganda Agreement were dubious at least and treasonable to the people of Uganda /Buganda.

Buganda connived with the British disenfranchising millions. It was cowardly and illegal because it entrenches historical colonial injustice.

Baganda land owners predate any Kabaka or colonialist. NRM government, should resolve the land issue once and for all.

Thirty one years!, it's not good enough!
Museveni should stop colonial appeasement with corrupt Mengo, call “a spade a spade”.The chickens are coming home to roost.

Other kingdoms of Uganda are NOT harassing wanaichi. It’s creepy Mengo hiding behind Kabaka.

Long live the republic of Uganda.
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