Kabarole, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Tooro kingdom cabinet has called for a dialogue with Kabarole district leadership over a land dispute.
When Fort Portal municipality was elevated to a tourism city status in July last year, it became autonomous and was no longer under Kabarole district. This also meant that Kabarole had to shift the district headquarters that are now in Kitumba ward, Central Division in Fort Portal to another place outside the city.
The district leaders chose Busoro Sub County as the location of the new district headquarters. However, this decision has since sparked a dispute. Tooro kingdom lands minister, Polly Kateeba, says the land belongs to the kingdom and the district should first sign a Memorandum of Understanding – MOU with them before constructing the headquarters.
On the other hand, the Kabarole district leaders led by the District LC V Chairperson, Richard Rwabuhinga, insist that the land belongs to the Kabarole district and not the kingdom. According to Rwabuhinga, the district owns 12 acres of land including the one where the Busoro Sub County headquarters are located. But Kateeba has maintained that the kingdom owns over 49 acres of land in Busoro including the one being claimed by the district.
Kateeba insists that even though they don’t have a tittle, the land has eucalyptus trees and buildings that are being used by the Busoro Sub County headquarters, which are known to be properties of the kingdom. He explains that in 1966 when they were in the process of getting a title for the land in question and for other pieces of land that are untitled, kingdoms were abolished and they had never restarted the process.
On Friday, the Kabarole District council passed a resolution stopping the singing of the Tooro Kingdom anthem in council, at events organized in partnership with the district and all schools in the district.
The councillors argued that they were not seeing the relevance of singing the anthem of a kingdom that is failing the construction of the district headquarters and the developments that would follow.
On Tuesday, the Tooro Kingdom cabinet held an extraordinary meeting that was chaired by Harriet Nyakake, the First Deputy Prime Minister, condemned the council resolution. The cabinet maintained that Kabarole district leadership will not be allowed to use the land without their permission.
Benjamin Kennedy Gusaliire the cabinet secretary noted that banning the singing of the kingdom anthem was equivalent to overthrowing the king.
The cabinet asked the district leaders to consider resolving the matter amicably by having a dialogue with the kingdom before embarking on any project on the land.
However, Rwabuhinga has maintained that the district owns the land where they intend to construct the headquarters and he is ready for dialogue only if the kingdom officials are ready to admit this. He says they received the same land from the central government many years ago and they cannot seek permission to use it.
Land disputes between the Tooro Kingdom and local governments are not new. In 2018, the Kingdom reclaimed ownership of land in Nyancwamba Sub County in Kamwenge district and forced the relocation of the Sub County headquarters. The land was measuring 175 acres.
Currently, the government is in the final stages of returning the Tooro kingdom assets after protracted negotiations between the two parties. The assets include land, county and sub-county headquarters that were forcefully taken over by the central government when then-President Milton Obote abolished traditional institutions and made Uganda a republic.
The assets are found in Kabarole, Kamwenge, Kyenjojo and Kyegegwa districts. The Tooro Kingdom also has assets in Kasese and Bundibugyo districts, which were formerly under its jurisdiction.