Mbarara. The minister for Presidency, Ms Esther Mbayo, has cautioned Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) against land grabbing, saying she will not hesitate punishing those found culpable.
“Do what you are supposed to do. Whatever you do reflects Office of the President. I will not hesitate to take action against RDCs involved in land grabbing. I will not hesitate to write a report and suspend you,” Ms Mbayo said on Tuesday while addressing a regional conference on NRM manifesto implementation attended by RDCs, chief administrative officers, district council chairperson and (National Resistance Movement party) NRM district chairpersons from south western Uganda in Mbarara.
Ms Mbayo urged local government leaders who are custodians of government property not to yield to manipulation by people using State House name to steal government property.
“People grab land and hide in the name of State House; call us (when they come to take land).We shall come and address that, because we know them,” Ms Mbayo said.
She said RDCs should not be judges in land disputes but facilitate mediation between and among the contending parties.
However, the minister did not cite any cases where RDCs have been involved in grabbing land and where they have taken sides in land conflicts.
Members of the public often cry out about government officials colluding with and acting indifferent to those dispossessing them of their land, and taking government property illegally.
The Mbarara Chief Administrative Office, Mr Cuthbert Esoku, recently told the State House Anti-Corruption Unit officials, who are investigating corruption cases in the district, that a person from State House allocated himself about half an acre of the district land near the State Lodge. Mr Esoku, Ms Godlive Nayebare, the senior lands management officer, Mr Emmanuel Himbisa, the staff surveyor and Mr Rosalia Karuhanga, the human resource officer /clerk to council, were charged with three counts of abuse of office by the Anti-Corruption Court on February 28.
It is alleged that they partitioned government land in the district and received payments for development of the plots.
Ms Mbayo said leaders are not focusing on people’s needs but aiming at self-aggrandizement and have become corrupt.
“People have become hopeless just because we are not doing what we are supposed to do. They want protection but we are not protecting them. We are looking at making quick money; corruption. Wherever corruption is, there is a big person involved; it becomes a disease, let’s do what we are supposed to do,” the minister cautioned.
The Kamwenge RDC, Mr Godfrey Mucunguzi, in a separate interview, said: “I have benefited a lot from the presentations especially from one of the minister.”
Mr Emmy Kateera, the deputy RDC for Mbarara, said: “We represent the President as per the Constitution Article 203, and since we represent the fountain of honour we are supposed to reflect his image. We do mobilisation for development and promote reconciliation in communities where disputes arise, so when the minister cautions us that we are not supposed to be judges, then she is correct because our work is mediation only.”
Mr Willis Bashasha, the director of Manifesto Implementation, said the review done every year is intended to look at what NRM has achieved regarding pledges and promises made in 2016.