By Joseph Kayemba
The new junior Lands minister Sam Mayanja has been peddling lies for quite some time, especially about management and ownership of Buganda kingdom’s land.
One wonders whether the appointing authority approves of his assertions. In some of his articles, for instance, he has persistently claimed that Buganda Land Board operates illegally and that the Kabaka has no right to manage what he calls ‘public land.’
By virtue of his position as a senior partner at one of Uganda’s leading law firms, one would expect Mr Mayanja to have used the right channels of seeking court interpretation on whether Buganda Land Board or the Kabaka at large is operating legally. Instead he chose to use print media.
One wonders why he keeps ranting about the same topic and keeps getting precious newspaper space at the government-owned newspaper.
The simple answer is that he is just a smokescreen for the powerful forces that want to grab Buganda’s land. Mayanja knows that if you consistently tell lies, the public may end up perceiving it as the truth. It is, therefore, in order that we quickly demystify some of these consistent lies.
1. That the 1966 desecration of Buganda kingdom was a revolution.
What happened in 1966 was not a revolution but an illegal coup against the 1962 Constitution. It can’t be sanitized by the word revolution. Revolutions happen by popular uprising against dictators and injustices. There was no popular uprising in 1966. It was just a one man’s show.
2. That Buganda’s land is public land.
Public land means land owned by the government or its affiliated bodies, and that such land is administered by Uganda Land Commission. Even at independence, it was clearly shown that Buganda land is not public land. That’s why Mailo Akenda (9,000 square miles) was never put under the Uganda Land Commission.
It is why Buganda Land Board was set up to specifically administer what I will term as Buganda’s customary land. It is also why when Obote extrapolated it in 1967, he had to put it under Uganda Land Commission and abolished Buganda Land Board to clearly show that he had stolen Buganda’s customary land and made it Uganda’s public land. That was wrong. Where else is customary land in Uganda called public land?
3. That the 1962 Constitution established Buganda Land Board to take charge of official mailo.
Buganda Land Board of 1962 was established to administer and manage former crown land, now popularly known as Mailo Akenda. Official mailos remained under the offices to which they were allotted because those offices were corporate bodies.
The 350 square miles were under Nkuluze. It was only in 1963 that Ssekabaka Muteesa (the then president of Uganda) asked that Buganda Land Board also manages the rest of the official mailos to the benefit of the offices, apart from the 350 square miles which remained under Nkuluze.
He wanted to streamline the administration and bring uniformity. He was not surrendering the land to become public land.
4. That the current Buganda Land Board is not successor in title to the 1962-1967 Buganda Land Board and, therefore, cannot administer land which the later used to administer.
True, the current BLB may not be successor in title to the 1962 BLB, but the Kabaka of Buganda (not Ronald Muwenda Mutebi), who owns the current BLB wholly and for whom it acts as an agent, is a successor in title to all official mailos. There are rights derived from
The Traditional Rulers (Restitution of Assets and Properties) Act 1993 and the subsequent 2013 agreement between the president of Uganda and the Kabaka of Buganda.
Both the 1993 Act and the 2013 agreement are legally binding and constitutionally sound due to Article 246 of the 1995 Constitution. Therefore, the current Buganda Land Board is legally managing and administering that land.
5. That people on the 9,000 square miles are happily tilling and living on it.
Again, Mr Mayanja exposes himself here as someone less informed about what’s happening in the land sector, like MPs rightly pointed out during his vetting for the ministerial post (he was one of the worst performers during the vetting process).
The current land evictions in Buganda are mostly, if not all, happening on mailo akenda (9,000 square miles). The cries of people we see in the media are mostly happening in Mubende, Kiboga, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Kayunga, Luweero.
And what those districts have in common is that they predominantly house the mailo akenda (9,000 square miles) which were wrongly put under district land boards after they were wrongly termed as land without owners. That was wrong because mailo akenda is Buganda’s customary land.
So, the Baganda own it and it was preserved for them. However, district land boards have instead issued out freehold titles on them to ‘big people’ who in turn evict customary tenants. According to Mayanja, there is peace on mailo akenda. Funny!
6.That he wants to correct historical injustices.
Mayanja and his sponsors have one mission: that is to take away Kabaka’s land. So, he cannot claim to be correcting historical injustices by committing and furthering injustice.
They want to use state power to extrapolate Kabaka’s land, currently run by BLB, to government so that his masters can equally turn it into their private property like they have done with the 9,000 square miles.
Good enough, the public backlash he is already receiving both on social media and traditional media shows that the people of Buganda have read through his lies and mission.
They know that Buganda’s customary land is safer in the hands of the Kabaka for he cannot dish out freehold titles the way government does. They know that the current land law sufficiently protects bibanja holders against evictions but it is flouted by those with guns.
They know of encroachers who have been purposely imported onto Buganda land and now the Sam Mayanjas want to give them freehold titles under the guise of protecting bibanja holders and correcting historical injustices.
They know they can only trust the Kabaka.
Junior Lands minister Sam Mayanja