Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | President Yoweri Museveni has rejected a petition by 726 squatters asking him to reinstate them on Mbaale central forest land in Luweero district. They were ejected by the National Forest Authority-NFA from part of the 1208 hectares of land belonging to Mbaale central forest reserve in Butuntumula sub county in Luweero district in 2018.
The squatters currently occupy rented houses in nearby trading centers and lack land for cultivation. On Friday, Cossy Buule Kizito, the LC 1 chairperson Yandwe village petitioned President Yoweri Museveni during the launch of SR Afro Chicks and Breeders Limited in the area.
The company is located adjacent the disputed forest reserve, which is part of Yandwe village. Buule told Museveni that many people who were evicted from the forest reserve are landless and facing hunger because their land was taken by NFA. Buule claimed that the affected residents inherited the land from their grandparents who settled there in the early 1900’s before the area was gazetted.
Buule asked Museveni to order for the re-instatement of the affected residents on the land, saying they were unlawfully evicted by NFA.
Salim Zimula, the Kakabala parish councilor to Butuntumula sub county, says the forest was gazetted in 1967. He says it was resolved by government then that residents utilize part of the land and mark stones were erected to separate them from the reserve.
President Yoweri Museveni tasked Luweero Resident District Commissioner, Phoebe Namulindwa to explain how the residents were evicted. Namulindwa told Museveni that the affected residents were illegally occupying land belonging to the forest reserve and that the NFA consulted the Water and Environment Ministry before evicting them.
Museveni told the leaders that the tenants erred to settle on land belonging to the forest reserve, saying it is unlawful. He directed Luweero Resident District Commissioner, Phoebe Namulindwa and Chief Administrative Officer to evict all people from Lumansi wetlands. He vowed to sack the RDC and other public officials if he returns in area and finds encroachers on the land.
Ronald Ndawula, the LC 5 chairperson Luweero district later told URN that Museveni wasn’t properly briefed about the petition. He promised to continue engaging NFA and seek redress from Museveni to ensure the affected tenants are reinstated. Museveni went on to launch the SR Afro Chicks and Breeders Limited.