The Commission of Inquiry into land matters headed by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, has denied media reports that in its interim report to President Museveni, it proposed the abolition of mailo land titles.
In a statement released today, the commission said that this was a misunderstanding of some of its interim recommendations by some media houses. Yesterday, Daily Monitor reported that one of the 19 recommendations in an interim report that the commission gave to the president on 15th February 2018 is to abolish mailo land titles.
This move if put into effect could put government at loggerheads with the Buganda kingdom establishment at Mengo, which owns most of the land in question. The said recommendation has already caused outbursts from kingdom officials and loyalists who vowed to out rightly reject it.
Some stated that maybe the sole purpose of the commission was to “take away Buganda land” and not to solve land matters in the country, allegations the commission denies.
“The commission has not recommended the abolition of ownership rights currently represented by mailo land tenure,” the commission statement reads in part.
“What the commission recommended is that efforts to be made to fuse these parallel freehold type systems into a single tenure to introduce clarity and cohesion.”
Mailo land is a form of freehold predominant in Buganda, with some peculiar historical characteristics that came into effect when the kingdom of Buganda signed an agreement with the British-administered Uganda Protectorate in 1900. Other types of land tenure systems in Uganda include freehold, customary and lease hold.
In order to achieve the said fusion of the land systems, the commission said, it would be necessary to address the contradictions caused by occupancy rights that frequently affect Mailo tenure system.
Throughout its countrywide travels, the commission has found numerous complaints of ownership rights on mailo land between sitting tenants and purported owners some of whom had fake titles to show for it. Others were wrangles between members of the Buganda royal family with each side claiming ownership of certain pieces of land.
“These contradictions include separation of rights of ownership from occupancy that has led to difficulties in the smooth operation of the mailo tenure system,” the commission said.
It also recommended the restructuring and strengthening of the land fund through democratic provisions enforced by the government over a period of time, which may include appropriate compensation to either the landlords or tenants.
“Please note that all recommendations in the interim report are not final and are subject to further discussion, pending the publication of the final report,” the statement says.
“The commission continues to consider and debate its interim recommendations and to this end, it welcomes public discourse based on full information, engagements and submission of views and opinions as to how these recommendations may be refined or improved.”
Outline of 19 land probe commission interim recommendations
1) The multiple land administration, management and conservation agencies be merged into two super bodies.
2) District land boards and Area Land committees be dissolved and their mandate passed on to the proposed Land Authority.
3) Legal and policy reforms undertaken to facilitate the restructuring of the land sector’s institutional arrangements, enhance accountability, and address historic land distortions.
4) Reduction of current land tenures from four to perhaps three; freehold, customary free hold and leasehold. All government land to be held under freehold by the state.
5) Implement a nationwide survey and titling of all land, including customary land, with government support through the land fund.
6) The ULC [Uganda Land Commission] be abolished and its functions under the new authority be limited to holding public land only.
7) A futuristic land bank be developed to relieve government of heavy financial burdens and delays associated with land acquisition for public works.
8) The land fund be purposively capitalised and restructured to work effectively under the Land Authority
9) The office of the chief government valuer be restructured, and streamlined, and merged under the Land Authority.
10) Strong and punitive accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms in the land sector should be urgently put in place and implemented, in line with a zero tolerance to corruption policy.
11) All land fraud investigations should be broadened to include the participation of the Financial Intelligence Authority, the Inspectorate of Government, and other key criminal justice agencies.
12) All illegally allocated and acquired government and ‘public land’ be recovered through cancellation of illegally acquired land titles and holding all those found culpable to account.
13) Government to urgently halt the illegal encroachment on protected forests and wetlands, and restore these to the status of 1990.
14) A consolidated and validated national database be urgently developed, that includes the NFA map data, the Wetlands Atlas, and government institutional land.
15) Strengthen pre-land transaction identification processes by mandatory use of national identification for citizens, and relevant documentation for foreigners.
16) The re-establishment of district land tribunals as full time dispute resolution mechanisms with an expanded membership, and chaired by a Grade One Magistrate.
17) Mediation function provided under the Land Act be re-structured to provide for the option of disputing parties to each appoint an additional mediator.
18) The 2012 Draft Legal Aid policy be expeditiously considered and passed by cabinet.
19) Interests of cultural institutions, religious bodies, and women must be represented in the composition of district based land administration and dispute resolution fora, and also within wildlife conservation and benefits sharing processes.