Minister reinstates evicted kibanja holder

It is alleged that the landlord identified as Benjamin Walakira evicted Namirembe and slashed her crops from her 4-acre piece of land in Kunywa village, Mityana municipality.

State Minister for Lands Sam Mayanja (C) inspects a disputed Kibanja with complainant Anna Namirembe (R) in Mityana. URN photo

MITYANA, UGANDA: The State Minister for Lands, Sam Mayanja has directed Anna Namirembe, a Kibanja holder in Mityana district to return to her plot of land where she was evicted after occupying it for the more than four decades.

It is alleged that the landlord identified as Benjamin Walakira evicted Namirembe and slashed her crops from her 4-acre piece of land in Kunywa village, Mityana municipality. As a result, Namirembe petitioned the lands minister accusing Mityana district authorities of neglecting her plight when they failed to stop her eviction.

This prompted Mayanja to visit the contested area and reinstate Namirembe on the contested land. The Minister noted that his directive is in line with the Constitution and the presidential directives stopping the eviction of bibanja holders.

In February this year, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni stopped any eviction without the consent and direct observation of the district security committee chaired by the Resident District Commissioner – RDC in consultation with the Minister of Lands.

Mayanja who convened a meeting in Kunywa, said that the law allows Kibanja occupants to stay legally and that the presidential directive indicates that court orders are contrary to the constitution. He directed whoever is evicted from their respective bibanjas to petition the office of the RDC for redress and get peaceful possession.

The minister also ordered Mityana authorities to arrest all those behind the destruction of Namirembe’s crops and bring them to book for malicious damage to property and criminal trespass. He said that in the addition to the criminal proceedings, the perpetrators should be made to compensate Namirembe for the destroyed crops.

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Namirembe narrated that her late father left her the Kibanja in 1977 and she started working on the land. She however says that she was surprised to see people destroying her plantation at night.

She said that her banana plantation with coffee and eucalyptus was destroyed by graders on Walakira’s directives. Walakira said that Namirembe was staying on land on a lease basis but she started giving out portions to other people, which prompted them to seek legal redress challenging her actions.

However, some of the neighbors in the meeting who declined to be mentioned accused Walakira of failing to follow the right process before destroying the plants.

They also questioned why it has taken him decades to claim his land, which Namirembe has been occupying and utilizing over the years.

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But Minister Mayanja explained that Walakira’s ownership of the land is absolute and that of Namirembe is about occupancy. He explained that the law is there to guide the relationship between the landlord and the tenant.

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