According to the African Land Commission’s Coordinator Shadrack Omondi Land Registration in Africa stands at 10% (In Uganda it is 20%) and the rest is communally owned and unregistered, the land tenure systems in place also tend to Overlap meaning a titled piece of land will have the title owner, probably a lease holder and squatter whose interests must also be respected and these competing interests have always Generated conflicts between land owners and the tenants on one hand, and the Politicians who protect the Tenants in the Hope of securing their Votes.
In the second Part of our Series on Uganda’s land system, our Real Estate Writer Collins Hinamundi Brings you the costs of delays in solving Uganda’s land problems
The residents of Rwamutonga in Uganda’s Oil district of Hoima, the Residents of Kasokoso in Central Uganda, and the widows whose husbands died in the Joseph Kony led civil war in Northern Uganda do not know each other, they definitely don’t know that they are joined at the hip by a land system whose major driver has been a misconstrued land market, a drive for individual land ownership and titling by international development agencies led by the world bank and Politics instead of letting the system evolve.
According to Frank Byamugisha a Land Expert at the World Bank, over 80% of the land in Uganda is unregistered, 60% of households own land and only 39% of individually-owned rural land was purchased and because of lack of clearly-defined land rights, 37% of such land cannot be sold, 34% cannot be rented, and 44% of land cannot be used as security for a loan.
Suzan Lanyero 38 a teacher by Profession, lost her husband John Oketch in an attack by Joseph Kony’s Lord Resistance Army rebels, the attack also forced her and her 3 children into an internally displaced people’s camp and when she returned home in 2009, she found that her late Husband’s Brother had seized the land she used to own, she tried to seek recourse from the Local council land tribunal who according to Uganda’s land act are empowered to solve disputes.
Suzan says the Land tribunal sided with her Husband’s family forcing her to rent a house for her family and it took the intervention of the Uganda women’s lawyers association (FIDA) in 2012 for Suzan to gain access and control of her late husband’s land, and this is an area which according to the Uganda Bureau of statistics Household survey of 2009/2010 has the lowest literacy levels in the country, so if it can happen to a teacher it can happen to most of the widows in northern Uganda.
More than 500 hundred kilometres away from Suzan, 100,000 residents in a Kasokoso village just outside Kampala go to bed worried the Politicians will one day stop the fight and let the country’s National housing and construction company’s graders move in to demolish their homes in what According to Mugenyi Johnson a resident in the area was a culmination of months of threats and running battles with the government owned construction parastatal, National housing and construction company.
According to the Household survey has a housing deficit of more than 200,000 within the capital Kampala alone and Parity Twinomujuni the Managing director of the National housing and Construction Company, his firm plans to build 5000 houses on the 300 acre village over a 5 year period as part of the Government of Uganda’s intervention in the country’s Housing problems, the problem however is the contest over ownership of the land in Kasokoso.
According to Mugenyi the first people who settled in the area were economic immigrants from the different parts of Uganda who had come to work at a tea planation nearby, the community kept growing and morphed into the more than 100,000 people that have turned the area into hub of nonstop Business activity.
Mugenyi insists the residents were never made aware of the National housing and construction company’s ownership which according to country’s land act would qualify them as bonafide occupants with recognizable interests on the land they are being told to leave and also entitle them to compensation.
Parity Twinomujuni the Housing Company’s CEO however disagrees with the resident’s version of events, he says his firm acquired two leasehold titles from Kireka estates in 1966 and 1968 and later converted these titles into freehold title in 2012, he also says they are not going to evict everyone, and those whose homes fit into the Hosing company’s development plan for the area will be allowed to keep their homes while those with homes that need to be demolished will be compensated fairly or allowed to top up money and buy themselves a home in the planned estate something the Area woman Member of Parliament Rosemary Sseninde Opposes insisting most of the residents in the area are low incomes earners who can’t afford houses that are called Low Income but tagged at 20,000 dollars.
There is a form of unease in Kasokoso because while the company is gearing to roll the graders, residents insist they are going no where. Johnson Mugenyi says ‘i will not leave my home, and I don’t plan on walking away from all this (Pointing at his house and its surrounding rental Units) for peanuts’’ The residents are getting ready for one more fight.
The National housing and construction Company is 49% owned by the Libyan Government and 51% owned by the Government of Uganda
How do people with no land titles end up on registered and own it?
In the first part of this Article we talked about where all this came from but Edward Mwebaza a Project Officer at the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum says the Land Act of 1998 also made clear the tension between the landlord who is the owner of the land and the tenant who is the current user of the land without an effort to solve the tension.
Even though the land act empowered the tenant more with the willing buyer- willing seller clause whereby if the landlord wanted to buy off the tenant, the tenant must be willing to sell their access rights and if the land lord wanted to sell off the land he must first and foremost offer it to the tenants however most tenants as we saw in the Kayunga land conflicts are unable to meet the landlord’s asking price most times tying the landlord’s hands.
Another problem causing conflict according to Mwebaza is that tenants are not developing the land for fear that one day the Landlord may get the opportunity to evict them and on the other hand, landlords cannot develop land because they cannot evict the tenants.
This According to Frank Byamugisha a land expert at the World Bank limits the role that land can play in facilitating transformation and development in Uganda, and a world Bank Economic update report for September authored by Byamugisha warns that ‘’the ability of Uganda to leverage land use to promote positive economic development will depend greatly on the level of security of land tenure and the ease with which land rights can be transferred between different entities’’
It is also this level of insecurity that has seen the country’s Billion dollar pension behemoth’s plan to develop at apartments in Lubowa a kampala Suburb stall for 2 years. The National social security fund announced a 400 Million dollar plan to build apartments at Lubowa in 2013, 2 years later the project is yet to start first the land was claimed by members of the Royal family in the country’s Buganda Kingdom, and a Pastor had refused to give up part of the land until a court victory forced him off.
However in those two years the Uganda shilling has been battered left right and Centre and a project that should have cost 1 trillion shillings in 2013 is now 1.5 trillion and could go higher if the Uganda shilling continues to weaken (The fund’s money is mostly held in shillings).
The level of tenure insecurity was also the reason given to this Writer by a Ventures Africa and Forbes listed Nigerian Billionaire at the Global Entrepreneurship summit in Nairobi last year for his decision not to ‘Put down roots in Uganda’ the Billionaire whose comments were off record has significant investments in Uganda and had intended to build a satellite city along Lake Victoria in Uganda
‘’The Blueprint always looks good but things change when you hire people to ask the hard questions outside the good looking proposals and exciting prospect of doing business with the political goodwill of a country’s leaders, Navigating Uganda’s land issues is tricky and with the financing model we uses we couldn’t afford having any delays but I saw a document recently that gives me Hope’’
The Document he refers to is the Country’s National land Policy whose Implementation started in July 2015.
The policy According to Daudi Migereko the Country’s Minister for Lands Housing and Urban Development ‘will provide direction for transforming the country from a low to a high income country within 30 years.