The serene and tranquil Kaazi camping site, home to the Uganda Scouts Association (USA), has become the battleground for a fierce ownership dispute, triggering the resignation of USA’s chief commissioner, Gen Katumba Wamala.
The 120-acre parcel of land, originally registered in the names of the Kabaka of Buganda, has been at the centre of a shady land sale involving USA trustees, the Uganda Land Commission (ULC), and two companies. Baker Mugaino, the commissioner Land Registration, is later this week set to meet all parties claiming ownership of the multibillion 120 acres of land in Kaazi, a greater Kampala suburb.
The land, whose title is in the names of the Kabaka of Buganda, is home of the Uganda Scouts Association (USA) but recent developments on it, including parceling out of new plots, have greatly divided several stakeholders that also include the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) as well as two companies.
The Kabaka, through the Buganda Land Board, accuses the trustees of USA for illegally subleasing the land without the consent from the Kabaka. As a result, BLB petitioned Mugaino to cancel all the titles recently created on the land and return it to the Kabaka of Buganda.
It emerged recently that several trustees of USA worked with officials from ULC as well as two companies to subdivide the land into seven new plots. The move has not only caused a fallout amongst the trustees but also caused the resignation of Gen Katumba Wamala on top of alerting Buganda Land Board about the dealings.
The trustees who assented to the deal include eminent people such as Dr Maggie Kigozi, Bishop Nelson Onono Onweng, Dr John Mugisha, Patrick Barugahare Mujuni and Richard Kamya. However, Lucy Nakyobe, the head of Public Service, did not sign.
Documents seen by The Observer indicate that last year, the trustees subleased part of the land to two companies; Serena Heights Kaazi Ventures and Sky and Lakes Limited totaling about 32 acres. Part of the land has since been subdivided, with some of it graded for real estate.
Several scout leaders that spoke to The Observer claim the sublease deal was worth about Shs 5bn. According to sources privy to the matter, USA intends to make developments by setting up modern camping facilities at the site.
“USA wants to tap into the tourism potential of the area by creating amenities such as a hotel, swimming pool and other attractions,” said the source.
Upon learning about the deal, Gen Katumba Wamala, the USA chief commissioner, put in his resignation. In an April 12, 2023 termination letter to the chairman of the Council Uganda Scouts Association as well as its board, he noted that he found it difficult to continue serving the association as chief commissioner (chief scout).
“This is in addition to other issues surrounding unscrupulous conduct of some members of the association whom I would rather not conflict with,” he noted.
Meanwhile, The Observer understands that some of the people that upended their signatures on the deal are claiming to have been misled.
“I was convinced the companies were going to work under USA to develop the land but I am also shocked they also subleased the land to unsuspecting buyers,” said one of the trustees who signed the deal but preferred anonymity.
Efforts to reach out to other trustees were futile as they didn’t respond to our repeated messages and calls. The Observer further understands that the USA is set to hold an emergency meeting on November 20 to iron out the differences and put the record straight.
“There is so much tension and grumbling in the association and it is making everything hard,” said a top-level member.
“If anyone profited from the alleged sublease then they will have to carry their own cross.”
WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT KAAZI?
Kaazi camping site is one of the most serene and tranquil places on the outskirts of Kampala. It is renowned for being the home of the Uganda Scouts Association as well as a conservation place.
Over the past few years, the area, along with neighbouring Kigo, have transformed to become popular places for the affluent to stay. In fact, according to locals that The Observer talked to, a 50X100m plot of land has risen tenfold in the past 10 years.
“If you don’t have Shs 100m, you cannot buy a plot in the area,” said a land dealer in the area.
SO, WHO OWNS LAND AT KAAZI?
One cannot establish the true owner of the land at Kaazi without traversing the history of land in Buganda kingdom. The 1900 Buganda agreement is the blueprint for land distribution in Buganda kingdom. Article 15 of the Buganda Agreement provides for allotment of land to both private persons and office holders. These among others include the Kabaka, Katikkiro, Mulamuzi, Nnamasole, Ssaza and Ggombolola chiefs.
However, for purposes of the land at Kaazi where there are two overriding interests of ownership, the beneficiaries of the estate of the Late Sir Daudi Chwa and the Buganda kingdom, the 1900 Buganda agreement allotted then Kabaka of Buganda Daudi Chwa 100 square miles while the Kabaka of Buganda [the office] was allotted 350 square miles of land.
The position of the 1900 Buganda agreement was in the 1908 Buganda Native Laws enacted by the Buganda Lukiiko under Section 2(b) was to the effect that the 350 square miles allotted to the Kabaka in the 1900 agreement shall be Kabakaship mailo for the time being.
The land at Kaazi, was originally registered under Final Certificate - FC.18454 later registered in MRV (Mailo Register Volume) 269 and Folio 25. At the inception of Block and Plot system of mailo registration, the subject land was registered as Kyadondo Block 273 Plot 5 at Masajja as official Mailo registered in the Kabaka of Buganda by virtue of his office.
On July 1, 1948, the Kabaka leased the land to the trustees of the Uganda Scouts Association for a term of 49 years for purposes of scouting and camping. The lease was registered under instrument No. 81336 under Leasehold Register Volume (LRV) 236.
In 1966, kingdoms were abolished by the central government and their official estates, including the Kabakaship mailo, was confiscated by the state and the same was vested in the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) by virtue of Article 108 of the Constitution. On July 1, 1988, ULC, into which land at Kaazi was vested, extended the lease with the trustees of the Uganda Scouts Association for a term of 59 years.
When government restored kingdoms in 1993 under the Traditional Rulers (Restitution of Assets and Properties) Act, the official estates comprised in the 350 square miles Kabakaship mailo, which had been confiscated under the 1967 Constitution, was restored to the Kabaka of Buganda, including the land at Kaazi.
In fact, the ownership of the land formerly comprised in F.C 18454, inclusive of the land at Kaazi, was settled by the High court which ruled and declared that the land belongs to the Kabaka of Buganda in Prince Kalemera Kimera Vs Kabaka of Buganda and 3 others HCCS no. 535 of 2017.
In 2001, the Kabaka of Buganda filed Civil suit No. 1024 of 2001 in the High court against the Registered Trustees of the Uganda Scouts Association for breach of both the express and implied terms of the lease agreement, specifically the change of use and nonpayment of ground rent.
In 2018, the High court entered a default judgement in favour of the Kabaka. However, the Uganda Scouts Association applied to court to set aside the default judgement and the application was granted thus the matter is still before court.
Despite the fact that the matter is still in court, the Uganda Scouts Association and the Uganda Land Commission have dealt with the suit land by sub-diving it to create seven plots without the consent of the Kabaka.