Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | President Yoweri Museveni has canceled the land offer to Makerere University in Nakasongola district after protests from the occupants.
In 1989, President Yoweri Museveni instructed the Ministry of Lands and Surveys to allocate 10 square miles of land to enable them to set income-generating activities and education multi-faced agricultural projects.
The Ministry of Lands identified the five square miles at government ranching schemes in Nakasongola district and another five square miles at the Ssingo ranching scheme which they offered to Makerere University.
The Ministry of Lands and Surveys then offered land at blocks 9B and 9C at Buruuli ranching schemes located in Wabinyonyi and Kakooge sub-counties in Nakasongola.
However, to date, Makerere University hasn’t taken possession of the land.
On 22nd September 2023, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University wrote to the Nakasongola Resident District Commissioner asking him to convene a security meeting to brief them about the President’s directive, and in October this year they also visited the land where they found that it was already occupied by the people.
Earlier on 12th June 2023 Nawangwe also wrote Minister of Education and Sports Janet Kataaha Museveni informing her about how the process to acquire the land had dragged on and appealing to her to direct the Ministry of Agriculture to issue an allocation letter to the university to complete the tilting of the land.
On June 15th, 2023 Minister Kataha wrote to the Minister of Agriculture asking to help Makerere University to secure an allocation letter to complete the process.
However, on 27th October, the residents wrote to President Museveni asking him to cancel the offer and allocate Makerere University land elsewhere.
Through their leaders Edward Katuramu a resident of Lugogo LCI, John Katwire the Chairperson of Kabakazi LCI and Bukenya Francis the LCI Chairperson of Nalubaale village in Wabinyonyi sub county, the residents told Museveni that the take over of land by Makerere university would displace about 120 households and their 3000 heads of cattle as well as 2000 goats.
The petitioners claimed that they settled on the land 28 years ago after acquiring it through the Ranches Restructuring program led by Former Minister John Nasasira in 1995.
The petitioners also told Museveni that some had already acquired titles on the land and developed it which was unfair to evict them to pave the way for the Makerere University project.
President Yoweri Museveni has now written to Education and Sports Minister Janet Kataha Museveni ordering that the land be left to the occupants and Makerere University be given alternative land outside Nakasongola.
According to his letter dated 27th November,2023 Museveni said that the people in Buruuli have suffered a lot during British colonialism and Mengo sub-colonialism.
He added that it’s the NRM government that rescued the Baruuli by giving them a district where they could speak their language for the first time since 1900, govern their local government, and if therefore some of them had been the land they should keep it.
“By copies of this letter, I direct Prime Minister and Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development to get Makerere University an alternative land outside Buruuli” Museveni said in his letter.
The letter was also copied to Vice President, Public Service Minister Muruli Mukasa who is a resident of Nakasongola district and Chairperson of the Land Commission.
Sam Kigula the LCV Chairperson of Nakasongola district says that through Muruli Mukasa they have been notified about the President’s decision and they welcomed it.
“We thank President Museveni for recognizing the historical injustices against the Baruuli and this is a great step to enable us to acquire land as well as correct them. 95% of residents in Nakasongola are landless and it was unfair to evict the few who rightfully acquired land titles through government ranching structuring program” Kigula said.
Edward Katuramu the lead petitioner said that they are excited that Museveni received their complaints and acted swiftly to block their eviction from the land.
“It was unfair to force us to leave the land where we have invested so much and lived for years. We thank the President for being honest and ordering Makerere University to stop the planned eviction. We acknowledge the work done by Makerere University but they can get alternative land for their activities” Katuramu said.
Efforts to seek comment from Professor Nawangwe the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University and the Ministry of Education Public Spokesperson, Denis Mugimba were unsuccessful since he didn’t pick up our repeated calls.
This is the second time President Museveni has given away public land to people in Nakasongola. In December 2019 President Yoweri Museveni ordered the degazettement of Kyarubanga Forest reserve in Nakasongola district to settle landless households.
The eight-square-mile forest reserve stretches to four sub-counties including Wabinyonyi, Lwabiyata, Lwampanga, and Nabiswera. Over 2000 people have been resettled on the land since the directive was issued.