- Original sin. Many critics of Kyapa Mungalo, the Buganda Kingdom mass land titling campaign launched in April point to the experience of a company called KK Land and Property Management as “evidence” that even the current programme will come to nothing. Othman Semakula inquires into the days gone by and reveals who is KK and how its activities have affected Buganda Land Board programmes.
To understand the current Kyapa Mungalo contestations you need to go back to 2006 when Buganda Land Board (BLB), through KK Land and Property Management, first attempted to register all tenants on Kabaka’s land.
In 2006 BLB issued a directive that required all bonafide tenants on Kabaka’s land to pay Shs82,000 to KK.
Mr Levi Zimbe, the then BLB secretary, said the money would facilitate the registration, mapping and verification of the status of all tenants on Kabaka’s land.
Ms Jalia Namuddu, who lives in London, and owns a piece of land in Namasuba, Para Zone in Wakiso District, was one of the tenants who responded to the call, paying Shs82,000 through her mother, Ms Mary Mutyaba, the administrator of her estate.
However, according to Ms Mutyaba, who also owns a piece of land in Namasuba, Lufuka Zone in Wakiso District, the registration exercise was abruptly cancelled and no explanation was offered.
Apart from paying to register her daughter’s land, Ms Mutyaba had also paid a similar amount to register her plot in Namasuba, Lufuka Zone.
“We just heard that the exercise had been cancelled. Up to now they [BLB] have never told me what happened with the money I paid,” she says.
On two previous occasions, she says, she has paid money to BLB or its agents for work that is never done or only done half way.
In 2010 Ms Mutyaba paid Shs109,000 for her land to be surveyed, only to be asked for Shs500,000 in 2015 for the same purpose under what was dubbed the Massive Survey campaign.
“No work was ever done at least according to my understanding,” Ms Mutyaba says as she digs through a stash of receipts from Eggwanika lya Buganda (Buganda Treasury).
“Are they [BLB] going to include this money [Shs109,000 and Shs500,000] when I eventually go to get my daughter’s [Namuddu] ekyapa [title] and my own?” she wonders. “I want to get ekyapa [title] for both my land and my daughter’s but I would not want to get trapped in similar circumstances [of wondering what happened] after I have paid my money.”
Ms Mutyaba, according to assessments seen by Daily Monitor, will have to pay about Shs4.5 millions to secure lease title for her half acre piece of land, and about Shs2.78m for her daughter’s 25 decimals plot.
“It is good. If it allows me to secure my land then why would I refuse to participate?” Ms Mutyaba says of Kyapa Mungalo, a Kingdom campaign to issue lease titles to tenants on Kabaka’s land.
Ms Mutyaba’s story is not an isolated case. It is a story retold by other tenants, especially those living on Kabaka’s land in in Nansana, Salaama, Namasuba and Busabala.
Ms Jamia Nabatanzi stays at the lower side of Kabowa. Her plot sits between Kabowa and Nyanama in Wakiso District.
However, just like Ms Mutyaba, she wonders why she has previously had to pay money to BLB or its agents for work that is never done.
“One time I paid [Shs82,000] for my land to be registered and verified but more than 10 years down the road no registration has been done, nor have I received a refund,” she says.
Such are some of the concerns that threaten to stand in the successful implementation of the six-month Kyapa Mungalo campaign that was launched in April by Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga.
Enter Buganda Land Board
Buganda Land Board is a private company wholly owned by the institution of the Kabaka.
It was incorporated in 1994 to administer Buganda Kingdom properties such as Bulange, the Lubiri, Butikkiro and Kabaka’s official 350 square miles of land.
The properties had been confiscated by the central government after the 1966 crisis but were returned following the Traditional Rulers (Restitution of Assets and Properties) Act.
With the return of the properties, according to Mr Dennis Bugaya, the legal manager and spokesperson of BLB, the Mengo government saw it fit to register a company (BLB) that would administer Buganda properties and Kabaka’s land since the 1962 constitutionally recognised Buganda Land Board had been rendered null and void with the abolition of cultural institutions.
“Yes there have been some mistakes but as BLB we have a duty to know who lives on Kabaka’s land and how we can assist bonafide occupants to secure their ownership,” he says.
“The land we administer [350 square miles and other properties] was constitutionally returned to the Kabaka. It is private property. Some of the people who oppose our programmes are ignorant. They use politics to distort an otherwise good campaign (Kyapa Mungalo). We are not forcing anyone to get a title. So why do they (critics) oppose us?” he wonders.
Mr Bugaya concedes that there were some issues with KK’s operations, but “BLB reached out to all those who had KK receipts with a view of working on them.”
“We asked them to come. Some came and others perhaps did not,” he says.
Hajj Abdul Nadduli, the minister without portfolio, was until 2014 a Board member of BLB and a strong backer of Buganda Kingdom programmes.
Hajj Nadduli, however, has come out strongly to oppose Kyapa Mungalo, which BLB says seeks to streamline the status of tenants on Kabaka’s land.
“Those people (BLB) are making mistakes and they expect us to support them,” Hajj Nadduli says. “You cannot make me support wrong things because I was a member of Buganda Land Board.”
“I met my son (Kyewalabye) Male [BLB executive secretary] at a hospital in Kampala and told him they were making mistakes. We fought hard to bring BLB where it is but a few people are now using it for selfish interests at the risk of damaging the institution of the Kabaka. They have forgotten about us,” Hajj Nadduli says.
He, however, does not single out the specific mistakes he says BLB is making.
Hajji Nadduli accuses “some people at BLB and Mengo”, although he does not name any, of making the Kabaka appear as if he is the one ordering the eviction of people from his (Kabaka) land.
“This is dangerous and it will come with a cost. Go and tell Male and his group to go slow. By the time he was in school I was fighting for Mengo. I know what I am talking about,” Hajj Nadduli says.
Asked to respond to Hajj Nadduli’s concerns, Mr Male referred this reporter to Mr Bugaya, the legal manager and spokesperson of BLB.
Mr Bugaya says those opposing the Kyapa Mungalo campaign either do so out of ignorance or “want to use politics to distort” an otherwise good campaign.
Lands Minister Beti Amongi, Housing state minister Chris Baryomunsi and former presidential spokesperson Joseph Tamale Mirundi have also in the past voiced opposition against Kyapa Mungalo.
A number of places, including Luweero, Nakaseke in Buganda, and Apaa and Amuru in Acholi have seen big waves of evictions in the recent past, and the violence that have coloured them, especially the recent incidents in Apaa, serve as a reminder of the time bomb that Ugandans sit on due to land-related issues.
In Busabala, Wakiso District, an eviction by BLB at a section of recently elected Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi’s beach resort was a source of widespread controversy. Mr Kyagulanyi accused some BLB officials of dishonesty.
Lands minister Amongi, who has previously been quoted as saying the Kyapa Mungalo campaign has no legal basis, says: “I will officially address the matter in a press conference.”
KK, BLB fighting
The issue of KK has on several occasions been mentioned by those who criticise BLB and Mengo’s initiatives.
However, our findings indicate that the relationship between KK and BLB are irreparably damaged.
In 2006, according to Mr Bugaya, BLB contracted KK to pilot the registration and verification of all tenants on Kabaka’s land in parts of Makindye Ssabagabo and Wakiso District.
The contract was, however, canceled in 2008 because KK had breached terms of the agreement, Mr Bugaya says.
“They [KK] went beyond agreed boundaries. They had started approaching people in areas that were outside the pilot scheme,” he says.
The pilot scheme, he adds, included Namasuba, Busabaala, Salaama and Nansana, among others.
However, Mr Bugaya says, after the contract was cancelled, KK withheld documents and refused to hand over details of the people who had paid, thus making it difficult to identify those that had been approached.
“Mistakes had been made but we wanted to finish up with all people that had been approached. We asked those with receipts to come to us,” Mr Bugaya says.
Asked why BLB never sued KK for illegally holding on to the documents since yet had been hired to do to a job on their behalf, Mr Bugaya says: “We had a bigger problem (people who had paid money) to handle. KK was secondary.”
“Actually they (KK)sued us [BLB] but they later withdrew the case. I think they had realised their mistake,” he adds.
Mr John Kalungi-Kabuye, who is listed as the secretary and a director in KK, however, dismisses Mr Bugaya’s claims and challenges him to quote the case file number that was withdrawn.
“All the three claims [approaching people outside agreed boundaries, withholding documents and suing BLB] are false and misleading. They are not supported or substantiated by any facts. If we breached the agreement, how come they did not sue us and can they quote the case number of the suit we withdrew,” Mr Kalungi-Kabuye says.
A search conducted at the Commercial Court in Kampala and the Mengo Magistrates Court returned no known case between BLB and KK.
“We do not have their publicity machinery [BLB]. I think we vindicated ourselves by staying silent and left the burden of proof on them and as you can see, they are not doing well on that front because they are peddling lies,” Mr Kalungi-Kabuye adds.
Mr Kalungi-Kabuye, who now works in Nairobi, Kenya, says KK “conceived a transformational and visionary idea that was presented to the Kabaka and given a go ahead.”
The programme, he says, “sought to do something good for the Kabaka, his subjects and for sustainable urbanisation of Uganda”; however, it was fought by people he declines to mention.
“BLB being clueless is the reason why they are in the endless cycle of registering and re-registering tenants. One day you will have the whole story,” Mr Kalungi-Kabuye says in reference to our request to tell us what happened, before declining any further discussion into the matter.
KK was incorporated in 2004 under the chairmanship of John Leonard KataleKabuye, who held 60 per cent shareholding.
The other KK directors are John Kalungi-Kabuye, Deus Kawooya Kasule, Alloys Sebunya Kabuye, Nicholas Kabuye and Allan Kabuye, with each holding 5 per cent shareholding, according to details obtained from Uganda Registration Services Bureau.
Mr John Leonard Katale-Kabuye, who has since died (2014), was the sole signatory to the two accounts held in Dfcu Bank and Allied Bank International, which has since been closed by Bank of Uganda.
The company, at least according to a search across Kampala, has no known physical location and its former headquarters at Talemwa Towers on Kabakanjagala Road in Mengo are currently occupied by Nkumba University.
It is estimated that KK had approached more than 8,000 tenants, meaning that they could have collected more than Shs656m.
According to Mr Bugaya, despite the ongoing contestations, the Kyapa Mungalo campaign had by June 18 facilitated the issuing of more than 300 lease titles out of 26,000 targeted tenants.
More than 12,000 title deeds, he says, are in the pipeline.