Kayunga. A government programme of issuing freehold land titles to at least 20,000 households in Kayunga District hangs in the balance over alleged political interference, Daily Monitor has learnt.
The beneficiaries of the programe, according to Ms Persis Namuganza, the State minister for Lands, were supposed to receive their titles by December last year.
However, it is alleged that political interference by some local politicians in the district, has forced government to halt the process after its implementation failed to take off in the last financial year.
The titles were to be issued to the tenants in 16 villages in the sub-counties of Kitimbwa and Kayonza, whose land was illegally sold by Kayunga District Land Board in 2014 to Kayunga Sugar Works Ltd, a subsidiary of Madhvani Group of Companies.
Madhvani had bought the land at an unspecified price to grow sugarcanes. However, on learning about the “illegal” land transaction, the then district chairperson, Mr Stephen Dagada, suspended members of the board and refunded the Shs200m partial payment that had been made by Madhvani.
Madhvani had ordered the tenants to vacate the land to give way to his sugarcane growing project. The land measures about 10,000 acres.
The titles would strengthen land occupancy of the tenants given that there are oil prospects in the area.
Kayunga District chairperson Tom Sserwanga on his part accuses the ICT state minister, Ms Idah Nantaba, of frustrating the programme by enlarging the area of scope to include Busaana Sub-county.
“There was political interference in the technical activities of the programme, which delayed the process and led to additional costs,” Mr Sserwanga says, adding: “I have now advised them (Lands ministry) to ignore the political pressures and concentrate on the area of scope, which is Kayonza and Kitimbwa sub-counties.”
But Ms Nantaba, who is also the former state minister for Lands, says she was not surprised that Kayunga leaders were making false allegations against her.
“I know that these leaders such as the RDC are conniving with some land bosses in high political positions to grab the Nkokonjeru land but that does not guarantee their victory,” Ms Nantaba says.
Kayunga Resident District Commissioner Rose Birungi however, denies the accusations.
Ms Namuganza and Ms Nantaba have clashed in public since 2016 over land in Kayunga District after the latter claimed Ms Namuganza was hoodwinking tenants that she was going to process land titles for them.
Ms Nantaba also asked the beneficiaries of the programme not to pay the Shs70,000 for processing the titles, saying it is too much. She instead told them to pay Shs50,000. Many of the residents took Nantaba’s word and refused to pay the money. This delayed the process after the Ministry of Lands officials said it would only process titles for tenants who would pay Shs70,000.
But Ms Nantaba insisted that the extra Shs20,000 was illegal.
Ministry of Lands spokesperson Dennis Obbo says in this financial year’s budget, the programme is under the unfunded priorities and yet a total of Shs248m is required to implement it.