By The Insight Post Uganda
Robert Mbaziira, the Senior Land Management Officer of Mukono District, is being held at Mukono Police Division for allegedly issuing double land titles, a practice that has led to constant disputes and uncertainty within the district.
Mbaziira was arrested on the orders of the State Minister for Lands- Sam Mayanja who had visited the district to settle the escalating land disputes in the district.
According to Minister Mayanja, Mbaziira had been embroiled in numerous land disputes, particularly those involving double titling emanating from the land management system.
The consequences of these discrepancies were dire, leading to physical altercations, injuries, and even loss of life among the aggrieved land claimants.
“I have had enough of him, arrest him now to record a statement. I hear he is very rich and untouchable. I want the Resident District Commissioner and the Chief Administrative Officer to embark on the interdicting process and cancel his working contract immediately,” the minister ordered.
Andrew Kawa, the OC Mukono police division, gave the necessary instructions to ensure that the arrest proceeded.
The troubles related to land management in this particular district have been lingering for an extended period. In August of this year, the minister temporarily shut down the Mukono Zonal offices, citing their failure to uphold transparency and trust in their operations.
This move was sparked by allegations of deceit and malpractice that were causing suffering among the people. Doreen Tumushabe, the principal assistant secretary, was temporarily asked to step aside until the investigations were concluded.
Tumushabe eventually returned to her position, after it became evident that many of the anomalies were orchestrated by Mbaziira before several functions at the district land office were transferred to the ministerial zonal office (MZO).
The minister firmly believes that the district land officer not only failed to ensure compliance with national policies, strategies, programs, and guidelines on land, housing, and urban development within the district but also worked in favour of the wealthy, often at the expense of the impoverished members of the community.
Despite initial hesitation by the police in carrying out the minister’s orders, the loud and persistent demands from the residents for swift implementation left them with no choice but to escort Mbaziira to the police station.
Following the arrest, the minister instructed the commissioner of lands to invalidate any newly created land titles that conflict with existing ones and to investigate and apprehend all land officers involved in the issuance of these contested titles.
Mukono residents strongly believe that a significant step toward resolving the ongoing land disputes lies in the commitment of compliance officers in various offices to refrain from engaging in corrupt practices.
Cotilda Nabuuso, an 81-year-old resident, recounted her ordeal to the minister. She had been evicted from her home in Buziranjovu and had no choice but to resort to renting.
Nabuuso revealed that the land grabber responsible for her displacement was protected by armed individuals wearing police uniforms, who threatened to use force if she dared to pursue her claims.
Bishop Enos Kagodo of the Diocese of Mukono highlighted a disconcerting trend in land disputes, noting that land grabbers often masqueraded in the colours of the ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM), while encroaching on people’s properties.
Some even falsely claimed to be representatives of the State House, wielding unwarranted power over unsuspecting citizens. Unfortunately, these incidents often went unaddressed when reported to the authorities.
The Senior Presidential Assistant for Special Duties, Phiona Barungi, urged Mukono residents to verify the credentials of individuals or groups claiming affiliation with the State House before trusting them. This cautionary advice serves as a crucial step towards preventing further land-related injustices in the area.
In the wake of these developments, the residents of Mukono are cautiously hopeful that this arrest and the subsequent actions will pave the way for a more equitable and just land management system in the region.