President Yoweri Museveni has yet again lambasted opposition politicians for “telling lies” to the masses regarding the proposed amendments in the Land Act to grant government power to acquire private land for public projects. The President who is on his nationwide radio tour to popularize the amendment blamed the media for giving opposition leaders a platform to falsely allege that the amendment is an attempt to grab people’s land.
On Wednesday evening, Museveni was appearing on Mega FM radio in Gulu, northern Uganda.
“I have not seen a country captured by lies like Uganda and this is partly because of the radio stations which do not believe in quality control for they allow all sorts of rubbish to go over the radios and allow these lies to go all over the place,” Museveni told listeners.
Alluding to the reforms brought forth in 1995 under his administration, Museveni said that land was given back to individual citizens after it had been grabbed by the colonial government and later cultural leaders.
Prior to compensation, he noted, government will make a market study to ascertain the land value and add an extra 30% to the price of the land. This excess value includes disturbance allowance, the crop and property value allowance, in case the land has crops or buildings on it.
“Before colonialism, kings and chiefs controlled land in Uganda. Individuals did not own land. During the time of colonialism, land was divided into two categories; Mailo land in parts of Buganda, Tooro, Bunyoro and the crown land,” he said.
“When the NRM government came into power it said Mailo land stays but landlords stop disturbing the tenants. We also said that public land does not belong to the government but people living there. The only land that stayed with government were the ranches, government projects and health centers,” he said.
He clarified that the amendment seeks to deal with the cost that Ugandan tax payers incur as a result of individuals who stall public works due to compensation demands. Museveni said that those aggrieved will make their cases to tribunals and be duly compensated if there’s need to.
“I pity Uganda. If you have got bogus leaders who see this and say government wants to steal land and go to radios that multiply this nonsense, then the future of your country will be in trouble and I cannot be part of it,” he said.
In regard to the issue of government officials that grab people’s land, particularly army officers, Museveni assured that land grabbers would be imprisoned. He urged local leaders to write reports about incidents where army officers have been cited in land grabbing and forward them to him.
Museveni was accompanied by Lands Minister Betty Among, Minister of Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Hilary Onek, State Minister for Northern Uganda Grace Kwiyucwiny and NRM Deputy Secretary General Richard Todwong.