Uganda won’t side with any contender in Kenya elections – Museveni

Written by on January 25, 2022

President Yoweri Museveni has said Uganda will not side with any of the contenders in Kanya’s forthcoming Kenyan presidential elections. ;

In an exclusive interview with the ;New Vision, the President has also dispelled claims that he supports one of the presidential contenders in the August elections, William Ruto, the current vice-president of Kenya.

“Elections in Kenya or any other African country are a matter for the people of that country. Those people are the ones who are competent to decide on what to do. We never take sides in the internal affairs of other countries because we suffered from that type of problem when some people were taking sides in our internal politics. So, we have no side in the Kenya elections. Whoever they elect, we shall welcome and work with that person,” he said. ;

The quest to replace the current Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, is mainly between two politicians, Ruto and former prime minister Raila Odinga. ;

Asked how Uganda is prepared for the direct consequences that might spill over, given the memories of the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya that led to shortages in fuel and other essential commodities in Uganda, the President said Uganda has the alternative route of Dar-es-Salaam. ;

During the interview, Museveni also spoke about a wide range of issues, including the debate on the mailo land tenure, which he said, will be solved through discussions with the stakeholders to arrive at a win-win solution. ;

Mailo land debate ;

“Now on mailo, we sent our views to the proponents of mailo, urging them to find common ground on how to address the weaknesses of the mailo land tenure. ;

The common person, who supported the NRM during the Luwero bush war in Buganda, is treated unfairly when it comes to mailo. ;

They are not like Banyankole or Acholi or any other Ugandan, who own their kibanja permanently. We call it customary ownership. Therefore, I wonder why these people, who call themselves leaders of Baganda, do not care about this issue,” he said.

“They don’t want to notice the differences in land ownership between the Baganda who fought with us and other people in the country when it comes to land. The Munyankole, for instance, has full ownership of his or her kibanja. It is the same for a Langi, an Acholi, but when it comes to a Muganda, they say, he or she has a landlord to pay allegiance to. That system was brought here by colonialists, and Baganda leaders supported it,” he added. ;

Museveni described the tenant and landlord relationship under the mailo land tenure system as one akin to someone rearing people on land as if they are animals. ;

“For instance, I own land, and rear cattle on it, not people. So, this culture of rearing people on land, and not cattle, is not right. Therefore, using our usual method of not waging war, we decided that we shall discuss with the landlords. We also put in place the Land Fund to ensure that bibanja holders can be helped to acquire ownership from landlords,” he said. However, the President said unlike former president Idi Amin, who used force to abolish the mailo land tenure, NRM, will take the democratic path. ;

“Amin removed mailo land tenure using force, but for us we said mailo should return with conditions. We didn’t want the landlords to completely lose out. So, in our win-win proposal, we reverted to the 1928 Busuulu-Envujjo law of the colonialists, which noted that the kibanja holder cannot be chased off land, and secondly, the payment of busuulu should have a limit,” he said. ;

“However, there are arrogant people, who don’t care about what NRM is thinking or proposing on this issue. They are doing their own things. Therefore, those arrogant and proud people who don’t listen should know that it is NRM that brought back all these kingdoms and should listen to what NRM is saying on these matters. ;

We have been quiet because we are humble people. However, we have reached a point where we have agreed to rectify the mailo land injustices. ;

Some people had brought ekyapa mungalo, but what does this mean? It means lease, yet lease is for businesspeople, not common people. If the lease expires, what happens to these people? It means they can be chased. I think for the indigenous people, the modern way is to move from customary to freehold,” he added. ;

Museveni said: “So, we should find a peaceful way, without quarrelling, of finding a win-win situation on mailo land system, which Europeans brought. I saw one of the leaders saying that mailo is a custom of Buganda. ;

No, sir, it was brought here by Europeans. It is not a culture of Buganda. It was introduced by the British to reward the collaborators. So, we are not going to use force. We are going to discuss. Eviction of people is going to stop, and we are not going to allow it. ;

If I go somewhere and find that people have been evicted, I start by arresting the RDC for abuse of office and neglect of duty. If you can’t defend our people, resign. Therefore, if these people could agree peacefully without resorting to chaos, we shall discuss quietly in a humble way, look for money and put it in the Land Fund, pay the landlords and enable our people get permanent ownership. This will be a win-win.” ;

Bamugemereire report ;

To examine the extent of the land question in the country and massive evictions, in 2016, Museveni instituted a commission of inquiry into land matters that was chaired by a Court of Appeal judge, Catherine Bamugemereire. ;

The commission in its report, recommended the abolishing of the Uganda Land Commission to create a new Land Authority and to reduce the current land tenures “from four to perhaps three: freehold, customary and leasehold”. ;

This recommendation was greeted by a public outcry, particularly from individuals and institutions such as Buganda Kingdom who hold mailo land titles, but the commission denied recommending the abolition of mailo. ;

It instead made it clear that it wanted that there should remain only the tenures of freehold, customary and leasehold. ;

This effectively means mailo tenure would disappear and be fused into the other categories. ;

The commission submitted its final report to the President in July last year, but whereas several recommendations were highlighted to remedy land management challenges, the proposal to reduce the current land tenure systems from four to three was never mentioned. ;

No land evictions ;

The President also warned against land evictions, noting that RDCs must ensure that bibanja holders are not evicted. ;

“We have never supported eviction of people from land. Even in the Land Act, we put it categorically that no one should be evicted from their kibanja unless they fail to pay busuulu. Those who evict people are doing so illegally,” he said. ;

“The law also indicates that whoever evicts people unlawfully must be arrested, but it is not implemented, especially in the villages. However, we are going to tighten the implementation of the law. On my side as the President, I have my representatives, the RDCs. They should monitor and ensure that people are not evicted,” he added.


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