President Museveni has strongly warned landlords who take advantage of the illiteracy of bonafide bibanja occupants and continue to illegally evict them from their bibanja saying that their actions are unlawful and will definitely face the long arm of the law.
The President was speaking at a function where he handed over 301 land tittles to 301 bibanja holders that government has procured for them from the landlord at a cost of Shs.2.5 billion using the Government’s Land Fund.
The handover ceremony took place on at Kirema Church of Uganda Primary School grounds in Semuto Sub-County in Nakaseke District. The 301 beneficiaries came from the villages of Kirema, Kibubu and Kitoto in Nakaseke District.
President Museveni said the 1995 Constitution is very clear on the status of bibanja holders and how they should relate with the landlords.
He said the constitution gives no power to the landlords to evict the bibanja holders whatsoever adding that whoever carries out evictions does it illegally and should be penalised.
He described a bonafide kibanja holder as one who either bought or was given by the original landlord; one who was on the kibanja before 1983 or anyone who bought or inihelted from the two above.
He, at this point, instructed Resident District Commissioners, the Police and local leaders to oppose and stop the eviction of bibanja holders by landlords.
On reports that the landlords connive with the Courts of Law to secure eviction orders leading to eviction of bonafide bibanja holders, the President said that he had had a discussion with the Chief Justice on the matter and a lasting solution was in the offing.
He, however, asked the population to stand firm and resist all forms of intimidation and oppose evictions by landlords because they are clearly protected by the law.
He equally warned those who buy land tittles from landlords, banks that accept land tittles for mortgage that they risk losing their money because land on which there are bibanja holders does not solely belong to the landlord.
President Museveni explained that Uganda’s land law was designed in a win-win situation re-instating and recognising the status of landlords as owners of the land that had been removed by the Amin regime land decree of the 1970s.
He added that in recognition of the powers of the landlords, the government recommended a token of appreciation not a commercial rent to be given by the bibanja holders to the landlords annually so that the two live in harmony.
Mr. Museveni said that because of the limited resources Government can not pay all the landlords at the same time.
He said government will consider issuing certificate of occupancy to all bibanja holders to safeguard them from illegal evictions until resources are available to pay off the landlords.
Lands Minister, Hon. Betty Amongi, said her Ministry is committed to securing land for all bonifide bibanja holders using the Land Fund although the challenge is the limited resources at the ministry’s disposal.
She said the major challenges to her Ministry, in an attempt to safeguard bibanja holders, was the mortgaging of the land by landlords, continued issuance of eviction orders by courts of law, refusal by landlords to collect the recommended busulu and conflicts between landlords on ownership that make it hard for government to know whom it should deal with.
She revealed that government had fixed the annual busulu at not more than Shs 5,000 in villages, Shs20, 000 in Town Councils, Shs30, 000 in Municipalities and Shs.50,000 in Cities. She said that no one should charge more than what has been stipulated. She asked all government organs to implement that.