Fort Portal, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Tooro kingdom administration is organizing a series of sensitization meetings for the community about the kingdom properties that are in the process of being returned by the central government.
King Oyo on Monday led a delegation that met government officials led by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda in Kampala and the two parties agreed the process to implement an earlier MoU and fast track the return of the assets which has been hindered by misinformation and politicization of land matters in the kingdom by people who have not been disclosed.
“The meeting resolved that a robust public awareness campaign be conducted to sensitize the people about the contents of the Memorandum of Understanding to dispel the misinformation that is currently being peddled by some people,” reads a press release issued at the end of the meeting, dated August 31.
The kingdom officials who were with King Oyo include Bernard Tungakwo the Prime Minister; the Kingdom Lands Minister, Pollu Kateeba and Patrick Kawamara, the official maternal uncle to the king.
Prime Minister Rugunda was accompanied by Attorney General William Byaruhanga, the Minister of Local Government Raphael Magyezi and the Chairperson of Uganda Land Commission Beatrice Byenkya Nyakaisiki.
On September 2, 2019, the Government of Uganda and Tooro Kingdom signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the return of the kingdom assets. King Oyo signed on behalf of the kingdom and President Yoweri Museveni and the Attorney General William Byaruhanga represented the government.
The MoU was followed by a meeting in December to launch the joint verification committee between government and the kingdom. During the meeting, the Prime Minister of Uganda Dr Ruhakana Rugunda said that the government may compensate the Kingdom for the buildings and land that government institutions are occupying.
Also, towards the end of July this year, the kingdom inched closer to the actual return of the properties when a team from the Ministry of Lands held a meeting with the Kingdom officials to start the verification exercises of the assets.
The assets Tooro kingdom has been demanding from the central government include land, county and sub-county headquarters that were forcefully taken over by the central government in 1966 when the then President Milton Obote abolished traditional institutions and made Uganda a republic.
The assets are found in Kabarole, Kamwenge, Kyenjojo and Kyegegwa districts. Tooro Kingdom also has assets in Kasese and Bundibugyo districts which were formerly under its jurisdiction.
In 2014, youths from the kingdom walked more than 300 kilometres to Kampala protesting the delay by government to return the properties that are said to have greatly affected the cultural institution’s financial base.
The youths under their umbrella group, Amacumu ne Bitara, later delivered a petition to the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, who then pledged to work with relevant stakeholders to ensure the assets are returned.