The controversial State Minister for Lands Dr. Sam Mayanja has disputed the legality of the deals and memoranda of understanding his boss Gen Yoweri Museveni has been entering with the Kabaka of Buganda regarding land and other properties which Buganda claims to be hers.
In his latest media missive, Mayanja (famous for harbouring anti-Mengo sentiments) asserts that Traditional Rulers (Restitution of Assets and Properties) Act Cap 247, enacted on the eve of the Kabaka’s July 1993 coronation, is an invalid law which can’t be the basis for Buganda to lay claim on a number of properties including public land and buildings housing central government installations.
Mayanja asserts that the 1993 Act isn’t only unconstitutional but is also ambiguous in a multiplicity of ways. That because the Act is unconstitutional, all the concessions Mengo has been squeezing from Gen Museveni, basing on the same law, are a nullity. Dr. Mayanja illustrates his point as follows: “The 1962 Public Lands Ordinance transferred all crown land to the Controlling Authority to be held as public land on behalf of the crown. The controlling authorities were the Uganda Land Commission, the Buganda Land Board, boards of other Kingdoms and the District Land Boards. Buganda Land Board was, therefore, the controlling authority over public land and not the private land of the Kabaka.”
He asserts that it was an anomaly for the 1993 Act to compel the government to return to the Kabaka land or property that were never his personally but public land or property under the provisions of the 1967 Constitution.
Following the 1966 abolition of Kingdoms, Buganda inclusive, all land that DLBs and BLB previously controlled became Uganda Land Commission as the subsequent 1967 Constitution vested the same under ULC. For the 5 years (1967-1971) it constitutionally existed, BLB held and managed all public land in Buganda including the 9,000 square miles (akenda) and all the official Mailo. That this was for the benefit of the people of Buganda and not the Kabaka as a person.
That when Gen Museveni became President in 1986, his nascent NRM government (desperate to consolidate support) was stampeded by Cultural Institutions “especially the Buganda Cultural Kingdom” demanding to repossess and regain property they claimed had unfairly been confiscated from them under the 1967 Constitution. Mayanja reminisces thus: “The government quickly enacted the Traditional Rulers (Restitution of Assets and Properties) Act, Cap. 247 to restore the said assets. For the avoidance of doubt, S2(4) stated that for the case of Buganda, the properties were specified in the schedule and were to be vested in the Kabaka of Buganda in the same estate or interest as was held by the Uganda Land Commission.”
Mayanja rants on: “The schedule referred to in Section 2(4) enumerated the properties to include The Bulange, the Lubiri at Mengo, the Butikiro, the Buganda Court Building, Kabaka’s official 350 square miles of land, Namasole’s ten square miles of land, Banalinya’s land, Kabaka’s Lake; former Omulamuzi and Omuwanika’s official residences in Mengo, land adjacent to Lubiri on which three Buganda Ministerial houses used to stand, All Bassekabaka’s Tombs, Buganda Works Building at Kakeeka, Basiima House and the Nalinya’s house in Lubaga.”And in a bid to discredit the restitution Act even more, the Buganda Kingdom hater carries on: “None of the properties named in the schedule was given any legal description. It could not be ascertained on any Title Deed; whether the properties actually belonged to the Traditional Rulers, individuals or government. It was guesswork and unenforceable for uncertainty.”
To Mayanja, omitting to distinguish land the traditional rulers held in their personal capacity from that which institutionally belonged to the Kingdom or district further diminishes the legitimacy and constitutionality of the restitution Act. “[And] the relevant article in the 1967 Constitution is Article 108(3)(5) (b) which vested in the Uganda Land Commission any land which, immediately before the commencement of the same Constitution, was vested in the Land Board of a Kingdom or District.”
Mayanja observes that not all the land, which the 1967 Constitution vested in the Uganda Land Commission, had previously been the property of the Traditional Rulers of either the Buganda Kingdom or any other Kingdom. “These were properties which belonged to a Kingdom or a District as an administrative unit and not the Traditional Rulers and can therefore not be a subject of restitution as the properties never belonged to them in the first place,” asserts the Minister who is renowned for resenting everything Buganda Kingdom stands for.
He then registers more resentment towards the restitution Act which he faults for “not specifying properties for other traditional rulers but only stipulated that government shall hold negotiations with the traditional rulers concerned with a view of returning to them such assets and properties as may be agreed.” In Mayanja’s view, “the negotiations would also be extended to the Kabaka of Buganda in respect of any asset or property other than those specified in the schedule to the Act.”
Again in Mayanja’s words: “The case of Buganda Kingdom was self-explanatory. The Land Law of 15th June 1908 created two tenancies” including individual tenancy called “Mailo” [under section 2] and “Official Mailo” under Section 5.” Official Mailo would be the chief’s for the time he held office and the same was only to be enjoyed by the holders of the office. “Article 108 (5) (b) of the 1967 Constitution transferred land under the Land Boards of a Kingdom [e.g. Buganda] or District into administrative properties under Uganda Land Commission.
Therefore, the 1967 Constitution never confiscated land which belonged to Traditional Rulers. On the contrary, article 126 (1) of the 1967 Constitution preserved the Mailo land tenure under which the Traditional Rulers held property. Today Traditional Rulers continue to enjoy their properties under Mailo which was restituted under the 1995 Constitution. In Buganda, this is either under the estate of the late Kabaka Daudi Chwa or Muteesa estates Ltd. The Traditional Rulers [Restitution of Assets and Properties] Act Cap 247 has no legal basis and is of no consequence. And as such all memoranda of understanding with any Kingdom, basing their claim on the said Act, are a nullity,” Mayanja concludes.