PROF. George Wilson Kanyeihamba who is a retired Justice of the Supreme court and 1995 Constitution draftsman has warned President Yoweri Museveni on his campaign against Private Mailo land tenure system saying it is unpopular and seen as launching a fight against the Kabaka and his people, which according to him, the Head of State will badly lose it!
Calling himself a friend to the President, Justice Kanyeihamba warned, “Abandon this challenge against the Kabaka and against Mailo land Otherwise, although the electorate has kept you, and you have been very successful in electioneering, your continued opposition to Mailo land, which has become culture, not only of Baganda but of Uganda, will make you fall from power.”
“Please president Museveni, don’t embarrass us, leave us to stay peacefully on Mailo land. We are all Kabaka’s people and we love him so much.” Said Prof. Kanyeihamba who is a tenant on Kabaka’s land in Buziga and proudly pays land rates (Busuulu) to his land lord, His Majesty Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II.
Of recent, President Museveni has been campaigning for the abolishment of Private Mailo Land tenure system saying it’s the major cause of land conflicts and he wants land to be owned by the government.
Justice Kanyeihamba who is a senior constitutional lawyer has laughed off the President saying he is just looking for what will take him out of power, let him not be misled by the corrupt who want free land, Mailo land is here to stay.
In an exclusive interview with the Alternative Digitalk Mighty Drive show host Norman Tumuhimbise, Justice Kanyeihamba a renowned straight forward legal brain warns, “I have seen every big and famous regime whether it is a junta or not, meet it’s close…the English call it at Waterloo, Museveni has met his Waterloo at Mailo land. Because he has totally confused it with other theories he learnt either in Federalism or in communism. If he is not careful, Mailo land will take him.”
Kanyeihamba refered to many big and famous politicians who made such mistakes hence meeting their Waterloo! He mentioned France’s Napoleon Bonarparte the famous, he made a mistake by going to the Waterloo war. It overthrew him.
“The British lost their empire by challenging Gandhi of India and the Nkurumas of this World. Saddam Hussein of Iraq made several mistakes by challenging America. He went with it. Amin fell because he attacked Kagera island in Tanzania. He would still be here. Land mistakes will take Museveni.” Said Kanyeihamba without mincing words.
He said, “I want to predict, the President has started this war, it’s a very bad war for him, he will lose. If he continues this challenge against the Kabaka who is loved by his people, and thus who have adopted him as their land lord, Museveni will lose it.” Kanyeihamba who is a tenant on Kabaka’s land in Buziga said, “We have no problem with Kabaka. Very many Bakiga, many Banyankore have no problem with Buganda Kingdom. Buganda is the most Cosmopolitan region in the country. In Buziga, our LC 1 chairman Fred Rukirahe is a Mukiga. His opponent was a Westniler. If you count people living on Buziga hill who are not natives of Buganda, you will be so amazed. These regard Kabaka as their King.” Reveals Justice Kanyeihamba.
He noted that, “If Kabaka visits this area (Buziga), even though I am on a wheel chair, I would go on the road side to welcome him. Whenever he comes here, there is a lot of jubilation and merry making yet the majority of the people are not Baganda. Kabaka is for us all, he is our beloved land lord and we pay allegiance to him.”
The retired Justice who has written four books about the land said, what the president is proposing that the whole land in Uganda belong to the State is a communist philosophy.
He noted how he is not surprised because Mr. Museveni studied comnunism and one time he was branded as a communist just like his friends, Cuba, North Korea, China and others.
“So it is really unbelievable that President Museveni forgets our history and the structure of government and where we come from and propose that land should belong to the government.” Said Kanyeihamba, an expert on land matters.
He has written very famous articles titled ‘Land banking’, showing how government can aquire land commercially slowly provided it is getting it legally.
He advises the President that his government should aquire land commercially in accordance with the law, and then preserve it for development.
Since the fall of Idi Amin, there has been no constitutional instrument in Uganda including the documents that brought in the UNLF and NRM where Kanyeihamba has not participated. Either in the drafting of those documents or in giving advise on those opinions. He was trained as a land developer and an expert in land development and law.
When he was campaigning to go to the Constituent Assembly (CA), he would tell voters in Kabale that, “I am the one who wrote these books and therefore, I am going to make your Constitution. Although we were six candidates, others said that i was the right choice. So I made it to the CA.”
HOW CA REJECTED MUSEVENI’S PROPOSAL ON GOVERNMENT OWNING ALL LAND
Kanyeihamba revealed that, when they were drafting the 1995 Constitution, CA delegetes were very keen on land. “We took a lot of debate. President Museveni was unhappy with what we unanimously agreed upon to put in the Constitution. We were unanimous that land shall belong to the people and not to the government. That is very fundamental.” Said Justice Kanyeihamba.
He recalls that, each community like in case of Buganda and its people, in case of Kigezi the people of Kigezi, etc, they agreed that each community shall have a land Board like Buganda Land Board (BLB) in case of Buganda to manage land on behalf of Buganda Kingdom.
They agreed that such land boards will not be appointed by the government but by the leadership of that community and that land shall be vested in the land Board which will manage that land on behalf of their people since the land belongs to the people not to the government.
Kanyeihamba revealed that, “Some of us who represented the Movement we were sympathetic to President Museveni. I was one of those who said, we should preserve statutory leases and land owned by the municipalities and local government. I was in the minority and people on the other side particularly led by delegate Winnie Byanyima wanted that government should have nothing to do with ownership of land.”
PRIVATE MAILO & OTHER LAND TENURE SYSTEMS
Asked about the land systems in Uganda, Kanyeihamba who was the chairman of the legal drafting committee in CA and also Attorney General, said they are four.
“We established four kinds of the land systems. Of these, there are two basic systems.That is, Free hold in many urban centres where people get statutory leases basing on free hold. The other one, is Mailo land, followed by customary land, etc.” Said Kanyeihamba.
He explained that, Lease is when you hold land given to you by the land lord and you have it for a number of years say 99 yrs, 49 years and so forth.
People who are not Citizens in Uganda, can only have leases for a term of years. They can’t own Mailo land, they can’t own Free hold certainly not customary land.
So, the other three were reserved specifically for the Ugandans.
Disclosing a personal interest, Kanyeihamba who is the author of the book, ‘The land, the People and Culture of Kigezi’, said, “I am living here in Buganda permanently and I mean it. I will never go back to Kabale or to Kigezi my place of origin.”
“Here where I live, is my residence. I have a lease from the Kabaka of Buganda. This land belongs to the Kabaka in the accordance with the 1900 Aggrement. I pay reasonable rate to Kabaka, the land lord. And for years I have been here, I have co-existed peacefully with the Kabaka. Then, what is wrong with Private Mailo land?” Asked Justice Kanyeihamba.
“As I speak now, I am told, president Museveni owns chunks of land in Buganda. He has a ranch in Kisozi. Is he saying it should belong to the government? Is he saying that Rwakitura where he has made a lot of development and taught the people of that area how to use that land profitably, should belong to the government? Is he saying that the land of his ancestors should belong to the government? And you think his people will agree?” Asked Kanyeihamba.
He said, most people who work in Buganda especially President Museveni and his family, have Mailo land.
He talked about his immediate neighbour Odrek Rwabogo, president Museveni’s son in law saying, his Buziga home is sitting on Mailo land of Kabaka.
“Rwabogo is married to my pastor Patience Museveni. They are tenants on Kabaka’s land. Has he ever chased them? As far as I know, another son in law to the President, owns some property in Kampala which is under the jurisdiction of Buganda land board. How come he lives peacefully with in the Kingdom?” Asked Kanyeihamba. He added that, “My other neighbour is a Mutooro who is an Ambassador. They are on Mailo land. If you go any where in Buganda, the majority who own big chunks of land are non Baganda, but they are not disturbed by the Buganda Land Board.”
He talked about Buganda as a Cosmopolitan region in the country, citing Ochieng one of the young brothers to Martin Alika a close friend of the President, that he was a great Lukiiko (Mengo Parliament) member.
“In Buziga where I live in retirement, I am consulted by my neighbours, One is a widow whose late husband was a friend of mine. They don’t regard me as a foreigner. I helped this particular widow to fight for her piece of land that some scrupulous people wanted to take.” Kanyeihamba told the Mighty Digital show host.
POLITICAL & LEGAL SOLUTION TO THE LAND QUESTION
In his opinion, there are no political or legal questions about the land. President Museveni should just leave things the way they are. The land law is adequate and their is nothing that needs fixing.
In the constitution, Kanyeihamba says, “We categorically put it that, the government is free to takeover any land provided it compensates the owner. And that is a good law in any democratic country. We have a problem in Africa, when a law doesn’t suit you, you change it. You campaign against that law.”
“Although the president is on record saying this is the best constitution ever, he is realizing that he can’t freely give out land to his friends whenever he wants, he can’t extend his ranches the way he wants. That is why he thinks the law is bad. It is not.” Says Prof. Kanyeihamba.
In a two hours interview, Kanyeihamba said in the constitution they put it that, the powers of Kabaka and other cultural leaders must be governed by the customary law. He asked, why did the NRM government want to take over customary law and say, ‘You are now going to be governed by the Statute and Museveni’s government.’
“Why? What was wrong with the customary law? Nothing. Just that Museveni wanted more powers. He wanted himself to be refered to as the Ssaabagabe and reflected in the constitution.”
IS THE LAND LAW BITING?
According to Prof. Kanyeihamba, yes it had to bite but he accuses leaders for governing by the law not under the law.
For example, some say, ‘The law doesn’t allow me to do this, to torture people. But he says, the law empowers me to do this instead, not that the law prohibits me from doing this.’
“The land law isn’t working because leaders are not implementing the law as it is. They are not obeying it. I co-own land with Venerable Rev. Dan Kajumba. UNRA wanted the road to go through our land, We were compensated and we are all happy. If you follow the law, everything goes on smoothly.” Kanyeihamba urged that, our law on land is adequate.
Asked whether the president has a hidden agenda on the abolishment of the private Mailo land, Prof. Kanyeihamba said, “Museveni is totally exhausted in everyway possible. I am very sad that those near him in the NRM, don’t see it. Mailo land will be the political catalyst that will fell President Museveni if he doesn’t heed to what we are saying.”
“We want him to retire peacefully and we honour him. But if he continues to confront the Kabaka of Buganda on land, let him know that he is not fighting the Kabaka alone, but he is fighting the John Nagendas and Elly Tumwines who have got the Mailo land, he is fighting the Kanyeihambas, the Amanya Mushegas who have cows in Buganda, he is fighting those who have put permanent residences in Buganda.” Said Prof. Kanyeihamba, adding that, “The president is fighting the likes of his relatives, the Rwabogos, the Karugires, his own daughter Patience who enjoys tenure on Mailo land. She has a church on private Mailo land. So what is the problem with our president? Why are you fighting the obvious? Your family members are happily living in Buganda with so many Baganda who are their friends and their associates. So I am afraid our president is misguided. My advise would be, please drop this campaign.”
A tough speaking Kanyeihamba talked about a certain minister allegedly misleading the president on Mailo land saying how he was told that this minister is an immigrant from Burundi!
He said, “I have told you, the law about the land has no problem. But it has been politicized by those who are corrupt and corrupting the system, they want to have land and corruptly use it with the help of the government.”
“These are the people who put pressure on the President that let land be owned by government so that you have a free hand in giving us whatever we want corruptly or otherwise. So it is just pure politics, nothing to do with the law.”, Said Kanyeihamba. Challenging those who allege that the president wants to punish Baganda for not voting him in last elections, Prof. Kanyeihamba said it is not that all the Baganda wanted the opposition and it is not only Baganda who voted in Buganda.
Kanyeihamba told viewers that, “We don’t have the statistics but I can tell you, the non Baganda who have businesses and permanent residences in Buganda, who have got titles on Mailo land are more than the President is imagining. So this fight is not against the Baganda,it’s the fight against the people in Buganda. And that fight is contrary to the Constitution which says land belongs to the people and explains how that ownership should be exercised under the land Board not by the government.”
PUBLIC LAND MISUSED – PROF. KANYEIHAMBA
About the land that Government acquired on behalf of the public, Prof. Kanyeihamba says it has been mishandled.
He said, “Look at what has been developed on the chunk of land that used to belong to the public and that land which used to be regarded as the land for police in Nsambya. When you go there, there is a Supermarket which has come up, it is called Shoprite. The ordinary peasants of Buganda and Uganda can’t even visit them. They can’t afford it.
“We have this Munyonyo complex, only foreigners and heads of State can go there. Even I can not go there although I am not very poor. What happened to Shimon Demonstration School? It was taken over, the land is owned by a private individual not by the ordinary peasants. Isn’t that President Museveni doing? So he wants more land to dish it out? No way, that will never be. We will not allow it. We all say no, to our land becoming government land, never never.” Vows Prof. Kanyeihamba.
The retired Justice who was celebrating his 82nd Birthday said, “We conceeded that government should have the lakes, the swamps, the forests but certainly not the land. I say once again, no to Museveni’s proposal on the Mailo land.”
ABOUT MUSEVENI RESTORING MAILO LAND
On this, Kanyeihamba calls it a lie. He said, “I saw a statement by Museveni that he restored Mailo land! Where? He was not part of the Constituent Assembly. He was prohibited from going there. It is true we consulted him, he was a leader of our government, we are the ones who made this Constitution. When he comes struts with out shame and thumps his chest saying,
‘I am the one who restored Mailo land..’, that is not true.”
Kanyeihamba wants President Museveni to stop claiming credit for what he didn’t do. “In fact I have told you, his concept on land was different from ours. We had to debate again and again.”
IS MAILO LAND ONLY IN BUGANDA?
Justice Kanyeihamba says there is Mailo land in other regions, but in specified places.
“It is in Ankole, Fortportal and Bunyoro, but it wasn’t very extensive and therefore, the majority in those areas live on customary or free hold land. That is why it isn’t so much publicized but it is elsewhere.” He said.
In those areas, it was mainly earmarked for chiefs and other dignitaries who are nolonger there, or for churches and other Institutions.
According to Justice Kanyeihamba, President Museveni has no problem with these ones, it’s only in Buganda!
COUNTRIES WHOSE LAND IS IN HANDS OF GOV’T?
Asked about these countries, Kanyeihamba re-echoed that, most of these countries are communist countries like Cuba, North Korea, etc. Their land is owned by the government. People don’t own anything.
The other countries where land is owned by the Authority, is Federal Kings. Land belongs to the king like in UK.
“But I have a house owned by a wife and daughter in the UK. But you pay the rates to the local Authorities on behalf of people. What I have said, our law was excellent. The Constitutional provisions were wonderful. It’s only politics which interferes with those beautiful provisions and then we end up in a mess, confusion. Instead of getting information from the Buganda Land Board, the President blasts the Kingdom.” Kanyeihamba tells viewers.
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