Three months to the end of the Commission of Enquiry into land affairs, the majority of Ugandans endeared to its work have already began expressing fears that it will end too soon to accomplish the task at hand.
Michael Nampala from Wakiso District, who visited the Commission recently to present his complaint, is concerned that his case might not be heard by the time the Commission runs out of time due to its workload. “If as it were, the Commission is expected to conduct enquiries and hearings from the entire nation, it is obvious that the three remaining months is simply not enough given the fact that they (the Commission) have covered only three districts out of the 118 Districts of Uganda in the last three months,” Nampala said.
“Government should see the magnitude of the rot in the land sector and the quality of work the Commission has so far exhibited and therefore consider extending its time frame,” he added.
Donati Musinguzi, is one of over 100 family heads currently being threatened with eviction by tycoon, Felly Gun, out of his 100-acre piece of land in Mubali village, Kijura Town Council, Burashya County in Kabarole District.
He’s concerned that unless the Commission’s timeframe is extended his case might not get a chance to be heard. “I have gone even to State House two times seeking justice but in vain; and as you can see, my only hope is now left with this Commission, but I am not sure if three months will not elapse before the Commission runs out of time,” Musinguzi said.
Vincent Kyakonye of Bombo Town Council in Luweero District told The Sunrise that in the event that Government deems it feet to honour such a request, they should consider decentralizing the services of the Commission to the district levels to make the operations of the Commission easily accessible to all Ugandans.
Like some other Ugandans, Kyakonye also challenged Government to up the publicity about the operations of the Commission in the interest of the public.
“I know of a friend in Wakiso District who wanted to interact with the Commission over his land issues, but unfortunately missed the opportunity to do so because he wasn’t aware when the Commissioners visited due to limited publicity,” Kyakonye said.
But some Ugandans have opposed the Idea which they say is over ambitious. According to Legal Notice No. 2 of 2017 that set up the Commission, the final report of its findings and recommendations is to be submitted within six months from the date of its first hearing “or such other time as the President may determine.” “It is only prudent for President Yoweri Museveni, in particular to wait, ” said Geoffrey Kimeze from Katiiti Village Wakiso District.
Museveni appointed the seven-member Commission on December 8, 2016 and to inquire into the Effectiveness of Law, Policies and Processes of land Acquisition, Land Administration, Land Management and Land Registration in Uganda.
The Commission has its Secretariat at the National Records Centre and Archives under the Ministry of Public Service at Plot 8-10 Lourdel in Wandegeya, Kampala where public hearings are being conducted on top of those being held in various districts across the country.
It is being headed by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, a Justice of the Court of the Appeal/Constitutional Court working with commissioners: Owekitiibwa Robert Ssebunnya; Mrs. Mary Oduka Ochan; Mrs. Joyce Gunze Habaasa; Dr. Rose Nakayi; Hon. Fredrick Ruhindi and Mr. George Bagonza Tinkamanyire.
The support team includes: Mrs. Olive Kazaarwe Mukwaya (Commission Secretary), Dr. Douglas Singiza (Assistant Secretary-Research), leading Kampala advocate, Mr. Ebert Byenkya (Lead Counsel) and Mr. John Bosco Rujagaata Suuza (Assistant Lead Counsel).