Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ndeeba Church demolition under curfew last year was a source of discomfort to Uganda in the international community and President Yoweri Museveni had to make an explanation to world Anglican religious leaders.Yet the Lusanja eviction had even worse effect as the turned Uganda into a pariah of sorts in African land fora with the country being rejected on an important committees where it wanted to sit.
The Minister of State for Land, Persis Namuganza made the disclosure to members of Parliament, saying that Uganda’s image was tarnished following the evictions in Lusanja and demotion of the Ndeeba Church.
Namuganza alongside other Ministry of Lands officials were on Monday appearing before the Adhoc committee of Parliament investigating the compensation of 7.6 billion to Medard Kiconco over his land in Kyadondo, Lusanja, in Mpererwe and Land belonging to Ephraim Enterprises which was occupied by Ndeeba Church before it was razed down last year during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Namuganza regretted the incidents saying this was something that really should never have happened to Ugandans. She said that internationally, Uganda’s image was badly portrayed by the two incidents of breaking down a church, and the gruesome evictions of squatters in Lusanja.
She says that for the Ndeeba church, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury wrote to the Archbishop of Uganda, asking what had happened to a country he has just been in.
She says President Museveni wrote explaining to Welby that indeed it was a sad happening, but it was done by a private individual and not the Government. Namuganza said that this was a very bad thing in terms of how it portrayed Uganda in terms of dealing with land rights, but also Christianity.
According to Namuganza, on the evictions of Lusanja where over 130 people were evicted, this also badly portrayed Uganda abroad, as many people spoke against the eviction in international land related conferences.
She said that on a trip to Botswana, when Uganda thought to present a representative for a technical committee on land management in Africa, a Minister from Eswatini, formely Swaziland rose up and said Uganda cannot sit in the committee because land management had defeated them.
She says that Ghana supported this call, based on the fact that they came to Uganda to benchmark on the issues of land, but even after borrowing from the laws of Uganda and implementing them, they were shocked to see YouTube videos showing merciless evictions in Uganda.
She says Uganda did not actually get representation because of this. The chairperson of the committee Veronica Eragu Bichetero infact said the issue of Lusanja was a matter of human rights.
Ndeeba Church was demolished on August 9 in the night after an ownership dispute spanning more than 40 years. The act was a result of a court decision over a property wrangle between the Church of Uganda and the joint administrators of the estate of the late Evelyn Nachwa, a Buganda Kingdom Princess.
The demolition followed a court ruling which indicated that the land had been fraudulently registered in the names of Bishop Danistan Nsubuga, Rev. Yuda Kitaka, and Esau Kizito, thus ordering the church to vacate. In the aftermath of the demolition, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni promised that Government would rebuild the Church and compensate the owner of the land.