MENGO, Kampala, Uganda: Dan Muliika, the former Buganda premier joins the long list of people in questioning the kingdom’s campaign of ekyapa mu ngalo (leasing out bibanja owners on Kabaka’s land to owners for 49 years).
Kabaka Ronald Mutebi himself rolled out the project. He justified the move saying he did so to help his subjects to obtain leases on their bibanja in order to secure them apart from helping them to develop their land in a meaningful manner without the fear of losing such developments for lack of legal ownership.
But several people including the president and influential Baganda have been claiming that what the kingdom seeks to do is to take away land from people who cannot pay amounts claimed in leases and give it away to those who have money.
Such people include Muliika, who served as Katikkiro of Buganda before he was shown the exit for allegedly sabotaging the regime of President Yoweri Museveni. JB Walusimbi took from him and later, Charles Peter Mayiga, the current premier and campaign champion.
Commenting on the hyped ekyapa mu ngalo campaign, Muliika said there is a lot of secrecy around the whole thing. He faults the kingdom for introducing the program hastily before carrying out massive sensitization of the public.
He warns that the program is likely to backfire on Mengo, if the secrecy surrounding it is not addressed soon by the kingdom telling the people the whole truth. “Other than telling the people that they are liable to lose their bibanja if they fail to pay for leases in future, they are telling them that they will be able to access loans if they apply for leases,’’ Muliika says.
After that, he refers to himself as one person who has been a victim of the secrecy around the project. “I myself visited Buganda Land Board (BLB) to be availed a copy of the form of the so- called lease. I told them I wanted to fill one. The BLB people told me they had none to give me!” he said in an interview with one of the leading local vernacular newspapers.
Besides the above, Muliika goes on to claim how the project violates the longstanding cultures, customs, norms as well as values of Buganda kingdom. “The issue ought to have been handled first by the Lukiiko (Buganda’s kingdom) since it is the one which comprises of various representatives of the people from across the kingdom,” Muliika asserts, an apparent jab directed towards the Katikkiro and the Buganda Land Board which have been handling the matter.
He warns that keeping the masses in the dark regarding the program is likely to backfire on Mengo. “The issue of land is a live-wire issue. The people are not going to look on as they are losing land in a trickery manner,” he proclaims. But on a fair note, Mengo and Premier Mayiga in particular, have always clarified that choosing to apply for a lease on one’s kibanja or not is purely a voluntary decision.