President Yoweri Museveni has said that landlords do not have the power as per the legal provisions to evict the bibanja holders warning that landlords who engage in illegal evictions will be penalised.
He warned the landlords against taking advantage of the illiteracy of bonafide bibanja occupants, to illegally evict them.
The President made the warning over the weekend at an event in Nakaseke district where he handed over 301 land tittles to 301 bibanja holders that government has procured for them from the landlords. The intervention which is aimed at providing a long term solution to the problem of illegal evictions cost government Shs 2.5 billion.
The handover ceremony took place at Kirema Church of Uganda Primary School grounds in Semuto Sub-County in Nakaseke District.
The 301 beneficiaries came from the villages of Kirema, Kibubu and Kitoto in Nakaseke District.
President Museveni said that the 1995 Constitution is very clear on the status of bibanja holders and how they should relate with the landlords.
He said that the constitution gives no power to the landlords to evict the bibanja holders whatsoever, adding that whoever carries out evictions does it illegally and should be penalised.
He described a bonafide kibanja holder as one who either bought or was given by the original landlord; one who was on the kibanja before 1983 or anyone who bought or inihelted from the two above.
As such, Museveni instructed Resident District Commissioners, the Police and local leaders to oppose and stop the eviction of bibanja holders by landlords.
On reports that the landlords connive with Courts of Law to secure eviction orders leading to eviction of bonafide bibanja holders, the President said that he had had a discussion with the Chief Justice on the matter and a lasting solution was in the offing.
He, however, asked the population to stand firm and resist all forms of intimidation and oppose evictions by landlords because they are clearly protected by the law.
He equally warned those who buy land titles from landlords and banks that accept land titles for mortgage that they risk losing their money because land on which there are bibanja holders does not solely belong to the landlord.
He said that government will consider issuing certificate of occupancy to all bibanja holders to safeguard them from illegal evictions until resources are available to pay off the landlords.
In her remarks, the Minister for Lands, Betty Amongi said that her Ministry is committed to securing land for all bonifide bibanja holders using the Land Fund although the challenge is the limited resources at the Ministry’s disposal.
She however revealed that the Ministry is faced with a challenge of landlords who mortgage the land as well as the continued issuance of eviction orders by courts of law, refusal by landlords to collect the recommended busulu and conflicts between landlords on ownership that make it hard for government to know whom it should deal with.
She revealed that government had fixed the annual busulu at not more than Shs 5,000 in villages, Shs 20,000 in town Councils, Shs 30,000 in Municipalities and Shs 50,000 in cities.
Minister Amongi said that no one should charge more than what has been stipulated. She asked all government organs to implement that.