Government is to relocate over 10,000 families in Kyangwali. This comes after a recommendation of a report issued by a multi-sectoral investigation committee instituted by government over the wrongful eviction of families from their land.
Surprisingly the local nationals had grabbed government land after some refugees and other people dubiously sold refugee land as they decided to go back to their home countries. This simply means land grabbing is two way, big shots (aided by government) can do it as well as the locals citizens grabbing government land.
The Minister for Refugees and disaster preparedness Hillary Onek said that the 839 people currently camping at the sub county headquarters must be taken back to their homes since they have no genuine complaints for land.
Onek said that the people who are now claiming to have been evicted and now camping at the district headquarters came from their homes after having been mobilized.
“They were just mobilizing politically to put government under pressure over land …that they are now landless, yet they have come from their homes. We have statistics and we know where they come from”-Onek
The minister said that the prime Minister’s office will arrange to make sure that there are trucks.
Alright we shall give them food to go back and settle so that we clean up the area and we do not create that impression that people are there landless and government is not looking after them yet this is just a created politically, Onek added.
This resolution comes after the report indicated that some of the claimants had illegally acquired government land by the irregular assistance of the local council chairperson.
In July 2013 following the influx of new Congolese refugees through Bundibugyo, government took a decision to settle the new refugees in Kyangwali Settlement resulting into a backlash between settlement authorities and the local nationals who had encroached on the land.
The local community through their leadership (Kyangwali Sub County) petitioned government claiming that they had been wrongfully evicted from their land by settlement authorities to settle refugees.
The Prime Minister then ordered for an investigation to establish the truth regarding the claims and counter claims by Settlement authorities and the alleged encroachers (local nationals) over ownership of land at Bukinda and Katikala.
Now a probe team reported that the Kyangwali Local Council leadership in Hoima district of facilitating the illegal sell of land belonging to Kyangwali Refugee Settlement camp which caused land disputes.
The verification committee that was established following complaints of land evictions in Kyangwali last year, discovered that over 11 800 people encroached on Kyangwali Refugee Settlement Camp land.
The technical committee chaired by Major General Julius Oketa revealed that the Local Council leaders abetted the illegal sale of government land to private individuals without the consent of the district land authorities.
Oketa revealed that some of the local leaders were selling this land to the people through sub county land committees. He further noted that some individuals claimed that this land belonged to them and because of this new influx, people unknowingly bought the land.
“In one case someone actually went ahead to lease the land over 120 hectares he was so anger that government was taking away his land but after the survey he released that land he was sold belonged to government”-Oketa.
According to the report the LC 3 Chairperson of Kyangwali financially benefit from this confusion because the people there said that he used to take between fifty thousand shillings and two hundred thousand shillings before allocating them land in the Kyangwali refugee settlement camp.
Now Onek says that this accusation was found to be serious and government may get an appropriate organ to look into the behavior of the LC 3 chairman.
Presenting the report to the Prime Minister AmamaMbabazi, Maj Gen Oketta said his committee recommends that government should repossess the land and use it for the intended purpose of settling refugees.
The Prime Minister AmamaMbabazi who instituted the inquiry welcomed the report and promised to engage the relevant ministries in order to discuss its findings before implementing the recommendations.
Receiving the report Mbabazi noted that information about the opened boundaries of the Kyangwali Resettlement Land would be useful in finding out who are the encroachers and therefore an appropriate action would be taken.