News 2008


First Zimbabwe, now Uganda - soon Kenya?

British land-laws and anglican-law-based constitutions created havoc everywhere the British set foot in Africa

Britain to Help Tenants Pay Off Landlords

New Vision (Kampala)

10 March 2008


UGANDA and Britain have agreed to establish a fund to enable tenants buy land from landlords.

"The Uganda government and that of the United Kingdom will establish a joint intergovernmental committee to work out modalities for the setting up of the land fund, which will enable tenants to buy their plots from the landlords," said a statement issued by the Presidential Press Unit yesterday.

The deal was reached between President Yoweri Museveni and the UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, after they discussed the thorny issue of land that has sparked heated debate in Uganda.

The meeting was held at the official residence of the British Premier at 10 Downing Street. Museveni and Brown agreed that the joint committee handles the task expeditiously "because the matter is urgent."

During the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala last year, Museveni proposed to Brown that the British government contributes to a land fund because the colonial administration created the problem of tenants and landlords.

The current Ugandan law provides for a fund that enables tenants to buy the land they occupy. The process started in Kibaale district. The 2007/08 budget provided sh3b for the purpose.

In a further attempt to protect tenants from illegal eviction by landlords, the Government has proposed a new law.

The Bill is opposed by Buganda Kingdom, which argues that it is tantamount to grabbing land from landlords.

On the other hand, it has received support from Bunyoro Kingdom, particularly Kibaale district, where the majority of the people are squatters on land owned by the Baganda who acquired it under the colonial rule.

Currently, tenants cannot mortgage the land in case they want financing for investment because they do not have land titles.

In his budget speech last year, finance minister Ezra Suruma said 16,0000 ha were purchased in 2005/06 using the land fund.

The Government has also sought to resolve the long-standing land question by compensating the landlords.

Museveni, accompanied by his wife Janet, is in London on a three-day working visit as the Commonwealth chairman.

Last evening, he attended prayers at Westminster Abbey to commemorate the Commonwealth Day, and was scheduled to meet the Queen, the head of the Commonwealth.

Today, Museveni will assume his office at Marlborough House and will address the Commonwealth high commissioners.

Museveni and Brown also discussed the post-election violence in Kenya and agreed that the East African Community should assist the parties there keep the peace.

"The President briefed Mr. Brown about the developments in Somalia and the role of the Uganda peace-keeping contingent in the country. Mr. Museveni said the transitional government must be inclusive and that he was in contact with other groups.

He stressed that the international community must address the future of Somalia," the statement said.

Brown said he was putting together a team of world leaders to assist in reforming international bodies like the UN, IMF and World Bank to make them more relevant.

On Darfur, Brown appealed to Museveni to use his influence to bring on board rebel groups that have not signed the peace agreement.

He also commended Museveni for the economic recovery and democratisation in Uganda.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam Kutesa, Uganda's High Commissioner to Britain, Joan Rwabyomere and the British Minister for International Development, Douglas Alexander, were present.

In her Commonwealth Day message, the Queen highlighted the Nile River as an example which illustrates many of the challenges facing the "global environment as a whole" which, she said, "cannot alone sustain our lives as once it did."

She said for all its impressive size, the water provided by the river is barely enough to satisfy the 123 million people who depend on its waters for survival.

"Our own attitudes to the environment, and the use we put it to, may have consequences for people on every continent and for every ocean and sea."

"Whatever we do, wherever we live," said the Queen, "our actions in defence of the environment can have a real and positive effect upon the lives of others, today and into the future."

The Queen stated that those who pollute the least - particularly in the world's least-developed nations - appear to be the most affected by the impact of climate change as well being the least equipped to cope with it.

Museveni said the causes of environmental degradation are well known - failure to modernise the farming methods.

He added that Uganda was committed to the transformation of society by providing clean water, renewable energy sources and electrification of rural areas.