In Summary
  • Interview. Peter Mulira is a senior lawyer and a major landowner who has extensively researched and written about the land question in Uganda. In an interview with Sunday Monitor’s Stephen Kafeero, he discusses the controversial recommendation by the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire probe team, tasked to inquire into land matters in the country, on Mailo land tenure.
  • Buganda culture. I can assure you there isn’t a single landlord in Buganda who has ever evicted a tenant. Even in the new landlords because we grow up in these customs. It is like in Ankole, you can’t go and steal your neighbour’s cow, in Buganda we don’t steal land, it is a new phenomenon and it is done by criminals and big people. You cannot find a decent Muganda stealing land.

You have previously said Mailo land is not the problem yet the land probe has recommended for its abolition?

When we talk about Mailo land, we are talking about the custom-ary land system which existed in Buganda before 1900.

How did that come about?
Buganda as an entity was first set up by five clans and they settled along Lake Victoria, Lake Wamala. They were looking for water for their animals and so forth. They created a system of land hold-ing known as clan holding. It was based on their clans. Then more clans came in and as they expanded in number, they decided to have a chairman of all these clan leaders and they called him Saba-taka and later on he became Kabaka. Now as the kingdom ex-panded, land which was not clan land was vested in the Kabaka but as it expanded, it was difficult for the Kabaka to control it and monitor it.

So, the system of appointing Ssaza Chiefs was started. These were Kabaka’s representatives to manage specific territories and territo-ries managed came to be known as ettaka ly’obwami that is official land and the chiefs were allowed to give out interests to individu-als and those interests were known as etaka lyo’busenze. That in-dividual was also free to give out that kind of land and that inter-est was called ettaka ly’obwesenze. You can see that right from the beginning, in Buganda, there was a land system in existence before the colonialists came.

So what happened then?
When the colonialists found it here, they were very, very impressed by it. They did not tamper with it, they confirmed it in the 1900 agreement and at that time, it was estimated there were about 1000 people who had interest in land both official and private and they were allocated a total of 8,000 square miles. The agreement talks about 8,000 square miles but in actual fact, it was much less.

So, you can see that it is not true as politicians claim that the Brit-ish took away land from the peasants and gave it away to the chiefs. It confirmed it to the people who already had interests in the land and turned it into a modern system by giving it title deeds as evidence to show their ownership.

That system dispossessed people of land, the peasants, and government wants to correct that injustice?
In Buganda, there is no concept of peasants as you have say in a place like Ankole. In Ankole, when you are born a Muhima, you are born to a privileged class and if you are born a Mwiru, you are born to an under privileged class.

I am not talking about those customs but that is a fact. If you are born a Mwiru, you never, never become a Muhima. In Buganda we don’t have that type of class system. What we have is a class of Abakopi and a class of abakungu.

Abakungu are the people who serve in the Kabaka’s service while Abakopi are the people who have not already gained employment in the Kabaka’s service as chiefs or whatever.

In Buganda the word bakopi does not mean a peasant, it means a person who has not arrived yet. He can become a chief at any time. In fact, all the Bakungu are recruited from the class of the Bakopi. The Katikkiro of Buganda, his father was a Mukopi alt-hough he was a well-educated man and I think he was a teacher but because he was not in the service of the Kabaka, he belonged to the Bakopi. So, we don’t have those problems in Buganda.

It is therefore, in your opinion, not true that that the British gave land to some chiefs and left the rest of the people in Bu-ganda landless?
These people don’t know about the Christian and Muslim wars that took place in the 1880s. Uhh in the first war, the Muslims won and they took over the kingdom and the Kabaka fled. Then the Christians then regrouped and managed to displace the Mus-lims who ran away. When the Christians took over power, the be-gan fighting and divided the Kingdom into two parts.

One part was controlled by the Protestants and the other part by the Catholics and the leaders of those groups appointed the chiefs for those areas they controlled. The Protestants had their leaders and the Catholics had their own.

The Kabaka had gone into exile in what is now known as North-ern Tanzania so they were not Kabaka’s chiefs. By 1900 when the agreement was made, these are the chiefs we are talking about. They are the people who already had territories that they con-trolled and were Bakopi in the sense they were not in the employ-ment of the Kabaka.

In 1900 when the when the British came and introduced this new system, they calculated that there were about 1,000 people who owned land and they just confirmed them in what they hold. It is very wrong for the politicians to tell the people of Buganda that the British gave out land through chiefs because these people had to apply to the Lukiiko to be issued with certificates.

The certificates we are talking about which ended up in Mailo land were issued by the Lukiiko and they used to call them provisional certificates. Then they had them filed in the land office and con-firmed as final certificates.

Is that how Mailo land came about?
Again, we are told lies that the 1900 agreement created Mailo land. It did not. The 1900 agreement only did two things. It confirmed owners in their interests and it introduced a new system of giving out certificates.

Thirdly, it provided that non-Africans could not own land owned by Africans and at that time it was not called Mailo land. May be I should go back a bit, the first land law which was introduced in Uganda was called the Uganda Regulations of 1897. It vested all land in the British crown and the governor was the person who could give interests in land.

So, you could see that between 1897 and 1906 even non Africans could buy land in Buganda. The agreement stated that non-Africans could not own land reserved for Africans except with the permission of the governor and the Lukiiko and the government was directed to come with a law to govern that relationship.

The law came out in 1906 and that is when Mailo land came about. What it said was that non Africans could not own land re-served for Africans. The land owned by Africans was described as Mailo land for the first time in 1906 and the Bazungus could only own it with the permission of the governor and the Lukiiko. So, you can see there was a grey area there because the Africans con-tinued selling their land to the Bazungus to start plantations. But then, the leadership in Buganda complained that that was going to lead to conflict of interest. It wasn’t in the real spirit of the agree-ment.

So what happened?
They petitioned the colonial office through the Bishop of the An-glican Church, I think it was Bishop Tucker, that this was wrong for the Europeans to take over land which was reserved for Afri-cans and the colonial secretary, the British minister in charge of colonies, directed that all land held by Europeans and non-Africans in Buganda should be converted into leases and these were special leases called grants and to be coverned by the Crowns Land ordinance.

This is where we are going to find problems when I come to iden-tifying problems. So, you had Europeans who had grants from the governor because the African was not allowed to give an interest to the European. On the maps, survey maps of Uganda they are indicated with letter G and followed by a serial number. Since then, a European could only get Mailo land on account of a grant from the governor.

Now, registration of land interests was introduced in 1908, at time they were giving just a number, land office number but in 1922, a law was introduced Registration of Titles Ordinance was intro-duced under which all interests in land had to be registered under a registry. It created three registers: A Mailo land register, a free-hold register and leasehold register.

The next problem was what happens to the people who had land office registrations. The law said those people could convert in to the new systems which was known as Mailo land register volume and folio. In 1958, the system was changed again from Mailo land register to block and plot numbers which we have today.

The law again says that until one who has a title deed from the old system has converted it to the new system that title continues to be enforceable and a register is only converted after he has changed his title.

You alluded to problems created by the 1900 agreement. Do you care to expound?
The problems created by the 1900 agreement is not what the poli-ticians especially the president are telling the people. It is not. As I said, before 1900, people could own land.

You can imagine at time, you know even today it is difficult to get communication from villages but you can imagine in 1900 that is more than 100 years somebody who is in Buddu, how is he going to know.

The communication was difficult, they did their best but it turned out that a lot of people who had land found themselves being en-closed in the Mailo owner, when the survey was done, their land was enclosed. Previously, they used to give tribute to the chiefs and to the Kabaka.

Now with the Mailo landowner introduced it meant paying rent levies to the Mailo owner which they resented because most of them were Bakopi and were not used to this landlord thing where the person was not the Kabaka’s chief. It caused a lot of problems and in 1922 they were helped to go to court.

A man called Daudi Basudde and Sserwano Kkulubya filed a suit in the High Court claiming that was an injustice and as a result of the suit, the Busulu and Envujjo law was introduced which gov-erned the relationship between the person with a title deed and those who didn’t and the relation worked out very, very well.

So where does the idea of Kibanja emanate from?
The 1927 law introduced what is known as Busulu and the idea of Kibanja. People talk about Ekibanja but they don’t know it. It is a Luganda word, they don’t know what it means, they just use it. Even a squatter is called a Kibanja holder.

A Kibanja is well defined under the Busulu and Envujjo law. There is a domestic Kibanja and an economic kibanja. A domestic Kibanja is a piece of land on which you have your domestic house, where you have your crops for domestic use, where you keep your animals and things like that and it measures about an acre.

You get it from the mailo land owner and ownership was indicat-ed by a receipt. We used to pay Shs 10 and once you get a receipt that was your title deed.

A receipt was your title deed and in 1966, it was held that instead of giving these people receipts when there were others who could borrow money from banks using their title deeds. There was a recommendation in Buganda government to introduce a system where by Bibanja holders would get titles.

That was going to be implemented but unfortunately, Obote abol-ished the Buganda government. Apart from the domestic Kibanja, there was an economic Kibanja. Once I allow you interest on this Kibanja as a landlord, you were free to cultivate cash crops up to an acre. Your interest was in the cash crops and not on the land.

The land remained the owner’s but you could cultivate upto one acre without his permission. Beyond that you had to get his per-mission. That is how you solve a problem and people were happy and the Buganda government wanted to abolish the bibanja to en-able the bibanja holders to have title deeds which was honourable.

These are the kind of things which are not happening.
The law provided that every person had a right to live on the land and the land owner was not allowed to reject anybody to leave on his land except a thief, a convict and a witch doctor.

Those were the only people who did not have a right to live on an-ybody’s land. Concurrently, the Kibanja owner was required to re-spect the rights of the land owner and the land owner in return for rent was expected to respect the rights of the Kibanja owner. He could evict him for only two reasons, abandonment of the kibanja or failure to pay rent but even in the case of failure to pay rent, the owner had to go to court, Gombolola court and the court would give him a warning and would only be evicted if for two years he continued not to pay his rent. So you can see the system was so organised unlike what we have today that is so chaotic.

There was always this problem, Amin actually implemented what Obote wanted, he knew what Obote had in plan and Obote had planned to abolish Mailo land. Amin abolished Mailo land in 1975 and said all interests in land were leasehold from government. I have never seen such a stupid act because an interest in land must come from somewhere, where did government get that land? No-where. You cannot just say government will give you a lease, lease from where. As a result, that act was not implemented, Mailo land continued to be in force until the Constitution of 1995.
So what then is the problem, does it emanate from the 1995 Con-stitution?

Did the 1995 Constitution create the problems for Mailo land then?

The constitution of 1995 did not create problems by creating four types of land holding as the land commission is trying to argue. The problem that was created was not to understand what land tenure means.

There is a lack of understanding what land tenure means. Mailo land is free hold tenure. When you say you want to abolish Mailo land tenure, I laugh at you because it is the same thing as freehold tenure. Mailo land is different because it is a freehold which can or could only be owned by Africans and Europeans or non-Africans could only own it with permission or consent of the governor and the Buganda Lukiiko. So when you say that we are abolishing Mailo land tenure, I don’t what you are talking about

If it is like the freehold tenure, how does the commission’s recom-mendation not make sense?
It does not makes sense at all. It shows that we have not really un-derstood what a tenure is. The Mailo system is a freehold system with one proviso that such freehold can only be owned by Afri-cans.

Europeans could only own it by the consent of the governor and the Buganda Lukiiko. If you say you want to abolish it, what you are implying is that you want non Africans to own land in Bugan-da without any hindrance. That is what you are saying. So, please.

Isn’t that happening already?
It is happening and I will enunciate the problems. It is true that later on this system was introduced in Toro and Ankole under the Toro and Ankole agreements but it was not the same as the Mailo land system in Buganda.

In Buganda, it was based on the local customary system which ex-isted prior to 1900. In Ankole and Toro, they just gave chiefs land and that is why President Museveni is so prejudiced to Mailo land because he thinks it is the same Mailo system they had in Ankole and Toro.

It was not. In Buganda there was no giving out of land. It was confirming what people already owned both chiefs and private land owners and the chiefs who were confirmed were not Kaba-ka’s chiefs.

Later on 5th August 1900, it was realised that the 1900 agreement had created a new system of chiefs, Saza chiefs. Those were given 612 square miles and the total number of chiefs was 189 and they did not take it as personal property. They were trustees of the of-fices they held and in fact a law was passed the official estates act.

For example if I am a Saza Chief, there are 8 square miles at-tached to that Saza and those 8 square miles, you don’t own them personally, they belong to the people. I want to make this very clear. You look at land in terms of monetary value but in those days, they looked at it as Lusuku because there was no payment of salaries to the chiefs. They used to have very huge plantations and would look after people. One chief could look after about 200 people. The concept which applied then is not what we know of today.

The second problem created by the constitution was to say that land belongs to the citizens of Uganda. When you say that land be-longs to the citizens of Uganda, straight away you are saying that non-African citizens are entitled as of right to own land here and that is why you are hearing a lot of non-Africans buying square miles and miles of land in Uganda.

Now a European government protected African land and an Afri-can government 50 years after independence is allowing Europe-ans, Chinese and others to take over African land. Where are Ugandans going to go?

The third problem is, there is what we call in law eminent domain. Eminent domain means all land is vested in government and all interests come from government. We have failed to grasp that simple principle and that is why we are having the problems we are having and that is why the commission makes the mistake of saying that all land should be transferred to a national land author-ity.

How? That would be nationalization. Eminent domain does not mean nationalisation, it means that there is a body which all inter-ests in land emanate from and that is why president Museveni has a problem. When he wants to get land, the government has no right .When the British government wanted land when we were still a colony, it had no problem because land was vested in her majesty the queen. The problem today is the fact that eminent domain has not been identified.

So what would be your proposal in the regard?
The solution would be for the constitution to be amended and say that all land in Uganda is vested in government. That does not mean that government owns it. That is what the term eminent domain, the right to use it for the general public is used.

You said there are more problems?
When you come to the fourth point is this. I talked about the grants, the European grants. All of them were for 99 years and the land was supposed to revert to the owner under the Crown Lands Ordinance.

Some crooks at the land office discovered a loophole here. They have been acquiring that land and claiming that the owner sold it to the governer. That is a misunderstanding of a historical fact. These grants meant that after 99 years, the land would go back to the Africans.

The problem they have and I told you that the 1922 Ordinance created three registers. You cannot register Mailo land in three registers. The land office has been giving out freehold title deeds on Mailo land and I have a letter from the commissioner of survey saying that you cannot convert Mailo land into freehold land be-cause they are two different registers.

Even a common man can see that. So you have people now espe-cially important people owning Mailo land but with freehold titles which is a nuisance to them. You cannot go to the bank with that kind of title deed and borrow money. So what is the solution? Abolish Mailo land so that these people who have illegally taken over Mailo land can be saved. That is the whole rationale behind the idea of abolishing Mailo land.

There is no other reason. All the important people, I don’t want to mention them. They have farms allover Buganda, they think they own Buganda today but the title deeds they have are freehold title deeds.

What is the solution for them?
You can’t solve it because when you come to the law the registra-tion of the titles act says the title registered first takes precedence over the later deed. If you have a freehold title deed over Mailo land you can think you own it but you don’t.

The land is mine with a Mailo land title deed, mine is protected yours is not. And the law also says a title deed can only be can-celed for fraud. Parliament is not supreme, it cannot cancel my ti-tle deed simply because it wants to save somebody.

I will give you an example, Lubowa Estate on Entebbe Road, that land is Mailo land and belongs to a Buganda Prince called Prince Ssuna Kiweewa. He sold about 25,000 acres to two Bazungus one called Homsbay and the other Capt Hick in 1911 I think.

That converted to grants of 99 years so the period has run out. All the title deeds being issued at Lubowa are freehold title deeds and they are fraudulent. I can prove it in a court of law. They are fraudulent, that land has never been surveyed but some crooks in the lands office are the ones doing that.

I know that in one case alone on that land 1500 acres were trans-ferred by the commissioner for lands and given a freehold title deed. You know when you issue title deeds, there is an original copy which remains in the land office and a duplicate which is is-sued to the land owner.

The duplicate is with Sunna in Mailo land and it is in the register of Mailo land, I can prove that. So, what does the commissioner do, she creates a new file which is not registered anywhere in which she created a title deed in freehold of over 1500 acres and transferred to people who were not even citizens of Uganda which is illegal. So problem number five is the corruption in the land of-fice.
The corruption in the land office is so extensive that you can’t be-lieve it. People are just creating title deeds over other peoples land erasing records. Go to Mukono, title deeds are being issued by erasing records.

…..the next problem
Problem number six is computerisation. Government borrowed a lot of money to computerise the land registry but they did it in the wrong way. The land office people were in charge of the system, they created it, they know it, they manage it, they implement it. The result is that they only feed into the system what they want to feed there.

If they want to steal my land, it won’t be entered into the comput-er so when I go to check, they will say aaaa your land is not in the computer. I have evidence of that.
Problem number seven the way I look at it is ignorance. A lot of our people do not know the land they own, or what their fathers or grandfathers own. A lot of people don’t know it and that is a prob-lem.

Why?
That has created a new class of thieves with money who go and buy chunks of land in Buganda without regard to ownership. And poor people don’t know their ownership because of ignorance. I have a case of people I am trying to help in that category.

Then there is another category of land which was crown land in Buganda in the colonial days. In 1961 an agreement was signed be-tween Buganda and Britain and Britain returned to the Kabaka of Buganda as trustee for the people of Buganda. That land is now being stolen left, right and center.

That is the land where you hear that some pastor acquired 26 square miles. One person acquiring 26 square miles and we don’t see this as a problem.
The next problem is what is called the Bibanja holders. The gov-ernment has gotten itself involved in land holding and messed up everything. The Central Government has no role to play in land matters except to ensure security and registration of interests but today it is the central government which is enforcing people’s rights.

Where did it get that responsibility, it is not provided for in the constitution that RDCs are the first ones to arrive to enforce, to identify who is a kibanja holder and who is not. Under the Bugan-da system, each mile owner was required to appoint a steward (omusigire) and all disputes and all rights of ownership were dealt with by the steward.

If they couldn’t handle it, it would go to the owner and if that failed, it would go to the chiefs. It is a pity, I really regret that our confusion is because we have abolished our traditions. An ag-grieved person would go to a place called ekitawuluzi, you would sit down and someone would mediate.

Now the law appoints politicians to mediate for you. How? So problem number eight is government’s role in areas it is not sup-posed to be in.
In Buganda today, 90 per cent of the so called Bibanja holders are from outside Buganda. That is a fact and they are the ones causing problems. I want you to go and do your research, there is no prob-lem between a land owner and a muganda tenant, no problem.

The tenants under the Kiganda custom respect owners and they can’t dispute his ownership. That is why we had an incident where Bishops were nearly killed by local people because the church came claiming land which people know belongs to a private owner and they would prefer to be on the side of the private owner and not the church and they nearly killed 39 bishops who went there against this tradition.

We have to know that the people who have caused problems on land are the squatters from outside Buganda. I am not against squatters but they come here without knowing the system in Bu-ganda because nobody can claim Ekibanja without being given it by the landowner and that is a problem.

The system of land registration was good. There is no fraud that can be committed in the lands office which cannot be discovered. Today, I told you I was in Mukono and there is a man who owned 440 acres. He became registered in 1914. In 1921, he leased 322 acres to a certain European by the name of George Fredrick Il-man. We have a copy of the lease, we have the man’s title deed but all of a sudden we discovered that, the land office transferred plot 16 and created plot 35 and the original owners name was put against 40 acres. 480 acres were transferred to plot 57 and they claimed that the owner was Dr Emmanuel Lumu who was a min-ister in Obote’s government. That he acquired it in 1966 and trans-ferred it in 1974.

It is important to note that Dr Lumu was among the 6 ministers arrested by Obote and put in detention until Amin came to power in 1971. Dr Lumu is registered in 1970. He was in prison, he could not have transferred the land, he is now over 100 years, and so I went to see his daughter and I showed the daughter the docu-ments. She said this is a lie, that is not my father’s signature on the transfer and secondly my father was in prison, how he could trans-act business in prison.

Is someone stealing land in his name?
To find out, you have to go to Entebbe I am talking about the sys-tem and see if Dr Lumu is recorded anywhere. You won’t find him. He is only in the land office in Mukono. So, the system is so good and we should not tamper with it. We should only strengthen it. I am appealing to the commission to do what it was supposed to do, not to tamper with systems.

Let it make recommendations from the problems which I have identified. I am proud of the commission, they have travelled around the country and exposed the corruption but as far as I am concerned, they have not identified the problems which have to be dealt with such as I have enumerated and there could be other problems.

I appeal to the commission to start focusing on that. What is wrong with the computerisation? How do we correct it? What is the cause of the problem between landlords and bibanja holders is it because the landlords are bad and I can assure you there isn’t a single landlord in Buganda who has ever evicted a tenant.

Even in the new landlords because we grow up in these customers. Those evicting are landowners. It is like in Ankole, you can’t go and steal your neighbour’s cow, in Buganda we don’t steal land, it is a new phenomenon and it is done by criminals and big people.

You cannot find a decent Muganda stealing land because people will straight away ask where did he get land, did he inherit it, where did he get the money and so on those are the kinds of ques-tions we ask. And when you identify the people buying land in big chunks you can tell that these guys are thieves.

Where then do the recommendations of commission stand?
They are not solutions. They should give reasons. District Land boards for example are an anomaly because when you read the constitution they are supposed to manage land which does not be-long to anyone.

In Buganda there is no land which does not belong to anyone. The former crown land was vested in the Kabaka as trustee to the peo-ple of Buganda but whatever money was coming from that land was not going to the Kabaka, it was for the people of Buganda.

If you are going to destroy that and give it away in Freehold you know that you are tampering with Buganda system, you are play-ing with fire. In Buganda, people are so endeared to the Kabaka who is also the Sabataka, when you take away land you are taking away the whole essence of being a Muganda and I am telling you no Muganda is going to allow it.

You are playing with fire and I hope the commission withdraws that recommendation because like I have shown, it doesn’t make sense at all. The recommendation is intended to help people who have free title deeds over Mailo land especially people at Lubowa and instead of punishing these registrars who have been issuing ti-tle deeds at Lubowa, you are punishing a whole tribe? You are punishing a whole tribe, punish the people who issued fraudulent title deeds in Lubowa and my approach would be this.

I am a member of Uganda Land owners association and by nature of our work we concentrate in Buganda. We have been advising that we are here to help to resolve these problems. We can negoti-ate with the owners and say please a mistake was made, can you accept so much money and forget it, we are willing to do that un-der a give and take system but the commission is trying to say that the Baganda Mailo land owners are the losers.

People who are willing to sit down and resolve the problem ami-cably are being punished for no fault of theirs. If I give you the history of some of this land you wil cry. A certain European com-pany according to the Panama papers has deposited 60 million dollars and all that money is realised from land in Buganda.

They have no other business and they collude with officials in the lands ministry. Those are the problems we have to solve. How can non-citizens take away 60 million dollars and hide them in Pana-ma or wherever when people here don’t have medicine. If I took you to the daughter of Ssuna, she is about 88 and she doesn’t even have food yet people enjoy taking freehold title deeds over her fa-ther’s land are happy and the commission is punishing land.

I want you to tell me, I am not being tribalistic and I am not trib-alistic, how many Baganda are bringing up the kinds of problems we are witnessing. How many Baganda own one acre on Lubowa hill but I know people who own 200, 300 and they are all big peo-ple in government and they are the ones causing us to lose out on Mailo land. We shall not accept it, I am sorry, I am sorry.

So what happens beyond Buganda?
I want to tell the government, if we want to develop this country, let us recognize peoples cultures. Land is a cultural phenomenon. When you go to Acholi, they have their cultural system of land holding, when you go to Bugisu the same thing every part of this country. In the North it is basically communal holding in the East clan holding, in Buganda it is individualized and that is where the difference comes in.

What I am saying to resolve this problem you will never resolve it unless you involve the people concerned. I would want to see the commission go to Acholi, find out the land holding systems of Acholi, go to lango, to Bugisu, to Teso. The moment we know the people’s mentality we will solve the problem. That is what the Ba-zungus did.

They introduced freehold land, you could get a freehold title on communal land in Acholi but the local people were involved in the process of acquiring that land. You started with the village head, gives you permission and by the time you go to the DCs office to apply for a freehold, the cultural aspect has been attended to. The problem we are facing today is we are cutting out the cultural as-pect and get a system that can work. Amin tried it and burnt his fingers.

I am asking my fellow Ugandans, when you evict fellow Ugandans where do you want them to go? I am a land owner and I know whenever I want to do a project on my land, I first sit down with people. I don’t distinguish even between bonafide and lawful oc-cupants, no you sit down with them and calculate and value their property and they accept.

Those who don’t want money I give them an option of a piece of land. Many of them opt to move than take money and we have been doing this for I don’t know how long. Sometimes I want to cry when I hear government people say what they say. For us we sit down, negotiate and I want you to come one day when I am going to talk to my tenants. You will be amazed. There is a differ-ence between what the government is presenting this case to be and what is on the ground.

Mulira’s take on Key issues

What happens to the probe team’s recommendation on Mailo land?
In Buganda there is no land which does not belong to anyone. The former crown land was vested in the Kabaka as trustee to the people of Buganda but whatever money was coming from that land was not going to the Kabaka, it was for the people of Buganda. If you are going to destroy that and give it away in freehold you know that you are tampering with Buganda system, you are playing with fire.

In Buganda, people are so endeared to the Kabaka who is also the Sabataka, when you take away land you are taking away the whole essence of being a Muganda and I am telling you no Muganda is going to allow it. The recommendation is intended to help people who have free title deeds over Mailo land, especially people at Lubowa and instead of punishing these registrars who have been issuing title deeds at Lubowa, you are punishing a whole tribe? Punish the people who issued fraudulent title deeds in Lubowa.

A certain European company, according to the Panama papers, has deposited $60m and all that money is realised from land in Buganda. They have no other business and they collude with officials in the Lands ministry. How can non-citizens take away $60m and hide it in Panama or wherever when people here don’t have medicine. If I took you to the daughter of Ssuna [Prince Ssuna Kiweewa owner of Lubowa land], she is about 88 and she doesn’t even have food yet people enjoy taking freehold title deeds over her father’s land are happy and the commission is punishing her.

So what happens beyond Buganda?
I want to tell the government, if we want to develop this country, let us recognise people’s cultures. Land is a cultural phenomenon. You will never resolve it unless you involve the people concerned. I would want to see the commission go to Acholi, find out the land holding systems of Acholi, go to Lango, to Bugisu, to Teso. The moment we know the people’s mentality we will solve the problem.