LAND, SECURITY! Minister Babalanda issues rules of engagement to RDCs (part 1)

Minister for the Presidency Milly Babalanda delivering Operational guidelines to RDCs and deputies at NALI, Kyankwanzi

Minister for the Presidency Milly Babalanda delivering Operational guidelines to RDCs and deputies at NALI, Kyankwanzi

BY VENENSCIAS KIIZA

When Workaholic Milly Babirye Babalanda assumed her new office as Presidency Minister in the last reshuffle, friends, well-wishers and other advisors including the appointing authority told her to mentally and physically prepare for the task ahead. She was told that some of the people she was going to supervise are corrupt, others are past sale date (read expired), and others are 5th columnists who largely serve for themselves. She was further told that others are very disrespectful and indisciplined; others were used ‘wetting beaks’, and some were good but disoriented, always absent and lazy. She was then told to engage gears accordingly.

In a no holds barred address, the minister used the recently concluded one week long Kyankwanzi retreat to issue the rules of engagement as they execute their duties.

The minister has also made it clear to those who have been rattled by her work methods that in this new crusade of service delivery, the status quo must change. And to that effect anybody who doesn’t approve of her work methods and the detailed regulations she read to them must shape up or ship out. Today we begin with how RDCS must handle service delivery, security and land matters.

According to Babalanda, all RDCs are required to form a District Service Delivery and Economic Monitoring Assessment Team headed the RCC/RDC and supervised by the respective RDC Secretariat Commissioner in their region comprised of RCC/RDC as Chairperson, deputy as the Vice Chairperson, area Mps, LC 5 Chairperson, City Mayor, CAO, DISO, Town Clerk, Sub-County Chairpersons, Sub-County Chiefs, DPC, District/City Planner and Division Mayors. “The idea to form this core team originated from the presidential directives and strategic guidelines on services delivery issued to Cabinet by H.E the President in June 2021,” she clarified.  This team, she said should meet on a quarterly basis to analyze and report on service delivery and economic performance in the district. In case of corruption cases identified, RDCs are required to file directly to the State House Anti-Corruption Unit. The Regional Commissioners will be required to supervise and follow up on these cases.

RDCs have been advised to access copies of the NRM Manifesto 2021-2026 to extract projects for purpose of reminding the respective agencies to fulfil their areas of pledge and commitment. They are not expected to demand for allowances to do this work since they are paid a salary in order to render public services on behalf of the appointing authority. “You are required to sensitize the masses before commencement on any project in order to equip them with information on funding and the respective Bills of Quantities for the project; display information on funds released per quarter on all projects in your districts; and brief the Minister for Presidency, Minister of State for Economic Monitoring and the Secretary, Office of the President on progress of projects being implemented in your respective districts. In cases of diversion of funds, please write direct to the Head, of State House Anti-Corruption Unit for immediate interventions. You can also cause arrest of public officers caught red-handed mismanaging public resources. By and large; in case of incidences of shoddy works, the RDC/RCC and deputies will be liable for negligence of duty,” she directed.

INSECURITY IN DISTRICTS/ CITIES

To effectively address the security gaps  RDCs have been told to hold at least two monthly district/city strategic security committee meetings to be attended by all members; address a press conference on the security situation in the district/city at-least twice in a month; mobilize LCs to create rescue WhatsApp security groups for their residents and endeavor to regularly meet the LCs to share information; and task residents to clear bushes around their homes and to ensure that they switch on security lights at night; improve the civilian intelligence gathering networks; and meet alongside with the DISOs, DPCs and DCIOs every Friday morning to compare notes in order to plan for the week ahead.

On top of implementing all the presidential directives on security matters as they are communicated from time to time, RDCs are also urged to control unnecessary gatherings by unemployed youths in trading centers since criminals convince and recruit such youths into criminal acts Working with Crime Intelligence Officers, you are urged to pick interest in all ghetto cells in your areas and keenly monitor activities of their members.

“You need to engage with the DPCs to mobilize Community Liaison Officers in order to engage LCs to plan for community policing programs.  The Security Committees at the Boarder Districts need to update the Minister for the Presidency, the Minister for Security, the Secretary, Office of the President through the RDC Secretariat on a 24/7 basis about the security situation in their areas. We need to know who is crossing our boarders including their intentions.  You are reminded to make use of the president’s office toll-free call center to report urgent security concerns among the other issues of concern. The toll-free line is 0800 320 320. You should display this toll-free line on your office door posts, at public notice boards and to read it out during your radio programs,” she guided.

According to Babalanda, the DPCs should ensure proper supervision and efficiency of the Police Cameras. Similarly, the District Security Committee should encourage residents who can afford to install CCTV Cameras on their premises. For example; in the case of Gen. Katumba Wamala the CCTV footage from a neighboring premise was instrumental in providing key leads to the arrest of the criminals.

She said: “You are required to humbly talk to the Judicial Officers in your respective Districts to express the importance of not handing light punishments to hard core criminals such as doing community service. Additionally, Resident State Attorneys should give much attention to cases involving Hard Core Criminals in order for us not to lose such important cases in Court. The Courts should desist from this culture which is complicating and encouraging criminality in the communities. Hardcore elements should be given very serious punishments to serve as example and a deterrent to others.”

The Resident State Attorneys have also been asked to increase on supervision of their staff stressing that “There are reports of money exchanging hands at their offices largely by the junior staff. Alleged cases of bribery and corruption in the RSA/SRSSA and the Police CID offices are on the rise and they are all aimed at ‘killing’ the cases. This matter is being taken very seriously and soon some people will face arrest. You as Chairpersons of District Security Committees should prevail upon the RSAs/RSSAs and the DPCs to ensure that their junior staff are well supervised.”

RDCs are required to report (with facts) suspected corruption cases to the state house anticorruption unit.

 

LAND DISPUTES:

According to the minister, RDCs should not permit land evictions in their areas. They are not supposed to carry out any evictions without a Court Order and the eviction process has to be in line with the presidential directive of February 28th 2022. In this directive the area land committee are required to consent before any evictions are made in consultation with the Minister for Lands.  They are supposed to verify the respective Court Order with the Courts and as well ownership of the respective land title with the officer in charge of the zonal land office.

RDCs must engage all the parties involved and in the case of family land; a joint consultative meeting involving the respective clan members should be held.

She further guided: “Any evictions if at-all, should be managed by a Senior Police Officer, preferably the District Police Commander.  RDCs are not supposed to undertake any evictions without the Police. Private Security Companies are not supposed to participate in any land evictions. For any eviction, the security committee should seek guidance and clearance from the Honorable Minister of Lands. Clearance will be given after thorough scrutiny of ownership documentation.  At-least 60 percent of the members of the security committee should participate in a meeting discussing land matters before a resolution is signed.    The Head of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit will be on standby to arrest Security Committee members who violate the presidential directive on management of land evictions.”

On evictions from Wetlands, RDCs are called upon to discourage people from using wetlands. “You should also talk to the Chief Administrative Officers and Town Clerks to desist from approving building plans in wetlands and also issuing of leases by the Land Boards.  Any evictions from wetlands should be undertaken by NEMA, the Police and with a resolution of the District Security Committee.”

While effecting of Court Orders, RDCs are supposed to ensure issuance of advance notice to the current occupants through both physical notice and media adverts; compensation of the occupants through the Bank to avoid double standards; and make sure they involve local Authorities and neighbors to witness all processes of the transactions.

Prior to enforcement of Court Orders, the following steps need to be followed: “The District Security Committee should be the first to receive a copy of the Court Order and jointly agree on the mechanism of implementing it. They should verify the Court Orders and the Land Documents with both Court and the Zonal Land Office before any action is taken. Court Bailiffs should report to you as the Chairperson of the City/District Security Committee for guidance prior to any eviction operation.  All evictions should preferably be undertaken during broad day light between 8.00 am and 5.00 pm. They should be witnessed by you, the DPC, the DISO, Local Council Leaders and immediate neighbors. Local Police should preferably be used instead of the Army and Private Security Guards. The Court Bailiffs should not go direct to effect evictions without the clearance and guidance of the District Security Committee and should do it with involvement of the police. All evictions should be managed under the guidance and clearance of the Minister for Lands.”

On the management of family-related Land evictions, RDCs should engage all the parties involved including key Clan Leaders and Local Authorities. They should advise the families to obtain letters of Administration in addition to the Powers of Attorney. They should ensure that the rightful procedures are followed in obtaining these documents.

“You should verify the Will with the concerned key persons appearing in the Will, if they are still living. In case of the deceased, you should follow the legal procedures of verifying documents. You should engage all the concerned parties to participate in the entire process.”

When it comes to evictions by agents of Real Estate dealers, RDCs should be advised to involve the Local Authorities when purchasing the said properties. They should strictly verify the land documents with the Ministry of Lands. They should be advised to consult with the current occupants (squatters) on status of ownership before effecting any payments to the vendor to avoid illegal purchases.

According to Babalanda, all RDCs are expected to follow these guidelines to the dot. Anyone who will act against these guidelines will be accountable for the consequences there arising.

“There should be no excuses connected with wrong evictions after reading these directives. Note that these are Presidential directives which you must comply with.  In light of the above also; you are required to implement the Presidential directive of February 28, 2022 which bans all land evictions in the country that are carried out without the consent of the respective District Security Committees (DSC) and in consultation with the Minister of Lands.  This directive warns that if this is not done and the illegal evictions go ahead, the members of the District Security Committee will all be held responsible and action will be taken against them. This however excludes the UPDF representatives who may not be in the know of the substance of the issues involved.  Finally, in line with the above, the President also on February 8, 2022 directed the RDC of Mbarara and all RDCs/RCC countrywide to work with the relevant district authorities to ensure that people do not return to wetlands. This directive should be fully implemented.”

More guidelines in our next publication.

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