Kyankwanzi, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | President Yoweri Museveni has finally intervened in the land wrangle involving more than 1,000 residents of Kyankwanzi district and Patricia Linda Nyakairima, the widow of the late Internal Affairs Minister Gen. Aronda Nyakairima. The disputed land measuring approximately 5 square miles covers Kyerere North, Kyerere East, Kiyuni central, Kiryajobyo west, and Kibanda villages in Gayaza sub-county in Kyankwanzi.
The residents have been feuding with the widow since 2008. Trouble for the residents started in February this year when the widow deployed over 10 graders and excavators to clear the contested land. The graders destroyed crops including several acres of banana plantations, beans, maize, mangoes, cassava, coffee, jackfruit, and rice belonging to the residents. More than 50 soldiers deployed the guard the graders brutally evicted residents and left more than 1,000 residents homeless.
The soldiers also blocked the residents from accessing the contested land. The helpless residents through their local leaders then petitioned President Yoweri Museveni demanding his immediate intervention to save them from losing their ancestral land.
Now, Judith Nabakooba, the Minister of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development, says that following a fact-finding mission on the land by the government, the president has accepted to buy off the land in favor of the residents to allow them settle peacefully. She says that the government will process land titles for all Bibanja holders on the contested land and also compensate them for the destruction caused to their properties.
Nabakooba further contends that government is going to deploy a team of surveyors and government valuer to open up the boundary of the land and assess the number of affected people and properties destroyed.
Joel Sebikaali, the Ntwetwe Member of Parliament applauded the president for the initiative, saying the evicted people were undergoing untold suffering.
Leosan Ssebalunzi, the LC3 chairperson of Gayaza sub county, says that the president has taken a wise decision to save the locals from being evicted from their ancestral land.
Retired Captain George Ssenyonyi, who was born in 1951 on the contested land, says that justice has prevailed and thanked the president for rescuing them, saying they had nowhere to go. Godfrey Walakira 60, one of the affected residents in Kyerere North village, says that the government should always do everything possible to protect the poor from being evicted from their ancestral land.
In 2018, Linda Nyakairima recorded a statement with the Commission of Inquiry into Land matters. It came after the commission chairperson, Justice Catherine Bamugemereire summoned her for questioning in relation to the disputed land.
The commission then received complaints from several families in Kiboga district who were ordered to vacate the 640-acre piece of land that Aronda wanted to acquire for private investment. The land was initially registered as a private Mailo property in the name of late Matayo Kidimbo Mpanga on March 9, 1931.
But the late Gen. Aronda reportedly paid Gideon Kibirango, who claimed to be the rightful owner of the land before Mpanga’s grandson Ibrahim Lumu contested the transaction. Linda Nyakairima could not be reached for comment.