Masaka, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Lands Minister Judith Nabakooba has halted the planned eviction of more than 3,000 people, from disputed land in Kasanje-Nakigga village, Bukakata sub-county, Masaka district.
The affected persons are mainly pastoralists and peasant farmers occupying more than three square miles of land in Kasange-Kigga village, Kiteredde, Musajja, Muddu, Komoni, Biriinzi, Lutukuma, and Kigo.
The said land is part of the 15 square miles Masaka district allocated the National Oil Palm Project (NOPP), to expand oil palm production, create employment, and boost the agricultural sector and the economy. According to Nabakooba, the government opted for a caveat in order to allow time for a more lasting solution for the dispute.
URN established that Fabiano Matovu, Justine Kizindo, Juma Mugunga and Paul Mukasa, the founders of the Nakigga Ranching Farm Cooperative Society had secured in 1988, a leasehold for 44 years. But according to the area MP Ronald Kanyike, it is unclear how the cooperative caretakers Achilleo Kayemba and Julius Yiga obtained a freehold title of the land which had a running lease.
The lease was left with eleven years to expire when Kayemba and Yiga told residents to leave.
He adds that they have invited Kayemba and Yiga to attend different harmonization meetings but they snubbed them on many occasions. Kanyike adds that it is because of their deliberate refusal to attend the meetings that he had to invite the minister to intervene.
However, Achilleo Kayemba, one of the caretakers of the cooperative society land says they have genuine documents that prove true ownership of the disputed land.
Gladys Nalubega, one of the affected farmers says that suspension of cultivation during the lockdown may cause more suffering to all the households that are using the land. She however fears that the minister also left them in suspense because she did not give them a timeline.
Abdu Kazitunga, another affected resident appealed to the minister to expedite the inquiries to allow them to use the land or to relocate them.