KIRYANDONGO, UGANDA: The Kiryandongo District LC5 Chairperson, Ms Aliguma Edith Adyeri has warned people who have an interest in grabbing ranch 11 land in Kiryandongo to stop immediately stating that there is no communal land in the district.
Speaking at the hearing of the Equal Opportunities Commission at Kigumba Town Council hall, Ms Aliguma called upon all those who intended to grab ranch 11 to desist because the land is government land earmarked for resettling internally displaced communities of the Nubian and Kibyama people.
“We have no communal land and anyone interested in taking over should look for somewhere else”, Aliguma said, before she warned all those conniving with the investor to stop because the attempts will not yield.
Kibanda South MP, Hon Karubanga Jacob Ateenyi wondered why some few people without mercy would think about taking a piece of land intended to resettle thousands of struggling families seeking livelihood.
“These people have no mercy for suffering people. How in the world would a handful not mind about the thousand struggling families?” Karubanga wondered.
He observed that necessary legal steps have been taken since 2000 to ensure that the internally displaced people get resettled and are in advanced stages.
The 2023/2024 financial budget included 200 million shillings for the resettlement of the affected communities causing a sigh of relief for land victims.
Attending the hearing yesterday (Monday), counsel Sarah from the office of Attorney General Cross-examined Karubanga Jacob Ateenyi who represented the petition organization while His Worship Cox Joel from the Equal Opportunities Commission adjourned the hearing to Monday 10th July 2023.
At the same event Hon. Baguma Isoke, the former Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development who is a witness noted that justice has been delayed for a very long period of time.
“It is now over 2 decades without these people getting justice. The interest of the State is to see people resettled because this issue can easily change the politics of the area so let people get resettled”, Hon Isoke noted.
The first conflict started around 1911 when people who until then lived in today’s Murchison Falls game park were resettled southwards upon its creation with people and institutions losing land. After gazetting the park people are south of Bunyoro Game Reserve.
When the Karuma wildlife reserve was created, they moved south in vast lands. In 1968 an aerial survey of the disputed “Mawanda” boundary of the wildlife reserve was done and no topographical survey was done until recently when beacons were placed causing violent conflicts.
During Amin’s regime in 1976, another conflict occurred as a result of irregular expropriation of land during the establishment of the former Palestinian land. In this case, peoples’ assets and property were assessed and valued with the hope of compensation or resettlement only to be brutally evicted. The majority of those evicted rushed back to the game reserve amidst unclear boundaries.
After the fall of Amin, the original occupants of the Palestinian farmland regained occupancy as there was no activity taking place on the land, bearing in mind, they had not been compensated.
In 1986 when the NRM government came to power, the government was desirous of rejuvenating the land as a UPDF farm and in the process ignorantly evicted everybody that had occupied the land. The victims still moved to the game reserve.
In 1994 and 1998 evictions from the wildlife reserve were done in a bid to secure it amidst disputes. In 1999 a violent dispute occurred along the reserve boundary culminating in a brutal eviction that led to the loss of life and property.
Masindi district council conducted a probe into these evictions in 2000, a report was produced and submitted to the Ministry of Lands.
The Masindi probe report was considered by the cabinet and a decision was made to resettle these people together with the Nubians on Ranch 11.
This was followed by the launch of the resettlement committee by Hon Baguma Isoke pending the land fund.
In 2003 the conflict was again resurrected with the leasing of the former UPDF farmland to the Mukwano group of companies. In 2006, the president requested the minister in charge of the presidency to handle the Nubian community which did not happen.
For all this long, victims have made various attempts to have government resettle them but several pledges by the government had never come to pass.
The news of budgeting for the resettlement fund amounting to 200 million has caused a sigh of relief to the victims who hope that they will finally get resettled soon.