Media Statement by Lands Minister

(11.00 AM  - 25TH August 2016)   
Member of the Press, I want to address you today on to critical issues that do have a big impact on the Land sector. These are the issues to do with effective management of Government land under the Uganda Land Commission and public land under the District Land Boards and other Controlling Authorities. The other issue is on the measures Government will implement to curb land evictions.   GOVERNMENT LAND AND PUBLIC LAND  
The regulations and guidelines regarding the control, management and use, including disposal, of Government land are not provided for in the Constitution or in the laws of Uganda. Government presently through Uganda Land Commission handles Government land and Public land.  
District Land Boards have failed to observe that they hold public land “in trust for the Citizens of Uganda”.  As such it has become a source of conflict between the Government, communities and citizens.  
Government Land is land   vested in or acquired by the Government in accordance with the Constitution; or acquired by the Government abroad; or land lawfully held, occupied and/or used by Government and its agencies even if it is reserved for future use; and for the purposes of carrying out the functions of Government.   
On the other hand, Public land is that land reserved or held and used for a public purpose. It may include the public open spaces, public infrastructure and land with a reversionary interest held by the District Land Boards under Section 59 (8) of the Land Act.  
Government land falls into three categories: that which is surveyed and titled; that which is gazetted but not titled, and that which is neither gazetted nor titled. Documentation of Government land has not been adequate in the past, leading to many conflicts, encroachment, and poor management of Government’s land resources.   
Arising out of these challenges, I have set up a Committee to be chaired by the Minister of State for Housing Hon Chris Baryomunsi to address the following issues with regard to the management of Government Land:  
1. Determine the extent of Government and Public land on the ground through compiling a comprehensive Government land Inventory;  2. Determine the boundaries of individual holdings of Government and Public land through overseeing the adjudication, demarcation, and titling of all such land; 3. Advise on how to manage or reclaim  encroached Government and Public land with disputes; and     
4. Document how to resolve through mediation or any alternative means the conflicts between Government and any Authorities who may lay claims on the Government land.   
The Uganda Land Commission has a key role to play in this process and will work closely with the Committee and user ministries to survey, value and title the land.  
In the meantime, the processing of leases on Government and /or public land is hereby suspended for 3 months to allow the Committee to carry out its investigations.  There will be exceptions only if there are requests to the Ministry from H.E the President; Cabinet and Uganda Investment Authority. This suspension takes immediate effect.  
Land Evictions still persist today despite the legal and administrative measures in place. The definition of rights accorded to lawful and bonafide occupants in the Land Act (Cap 227) continue to be contested by Landowners.  The nominal ground rent provided for is largely ignored, leading to a land use deadlock between the tenants and the registered land owners, hence disputes and in many instances evictions. Other reasons for evictions include:  
1. Lack of registration of tenants’ rights which results in branding them as tresspassers by registered Land owners;  2. Mortgaging of tenanted land by registered Land owners with no aim of redeeming the mortgaged land title. Financial institutions end up selling the land to new owners who do not cherish and understand the Landlord-tenant phenomenon, but want to use the land productively; 3. Unscrupulous Landlords conniving with individuals in the law enforcement agencies to unlawfully force tenants to leave; 4. Coercion of tenants to accept inadequate compensation and sign unfavorable agreements whose contents they do not understand; and  5. Lack of issuance of legally recognized land documents to support ownership or user rights.   
There are various options in the law to resolve and disentangle the multiple, overlapping and conflicting interests and rights on Mailo tenure. My Ministry will now seek to push for an everlasting solution of facilitating tenants on registered land to access the Land Fund to purchase or acquire registrable interests.   
It is on this basis that a coordinating committee on Land disputes and evictions for all the Government agencies involved in land evictions, including Courts, Police, Ministry Zonal Offices and selected Local Leaders shall be put in place.   
This Coordinating Committee shall be chaired by the Minister of State for Lands Hon Persis Namuganza and will be composed of technical staff from the relevant sectors and institutions to coordinate the resolution of Land disputes and eviction related issues, including carrying out investigations and recommending action to the Political Leadership and other agencies with the responsibilities of implementing them.  
The Committee will also establish the land acreage of occupants on a case by case basis with the view of assisting tenants pay for the land they hold.   
Ultimately what the Ministry wants is to assist tenants to acquire land titles based on the current size of land they occupy.  
The names of the other members on these two committees will be communicated in due course.
I thank you for listening to me and now will respond to any questions.