EGG FACED! Makerere loses another round in Katanga land row

Makerere VC Prof Nawangwe

By Swaib Kalule

Makerere University has suffered another setback in the war against evicting more than 50,000 bonafide occupants of Katanga land near Wandegeya. The lawyers representing Makerere University had asked the court to issue restraining orders against the bonafide occupants on Katanga land to stop them from further developing their bibanjas. The university had also sought to block any transfer of the bibanja interests on the land in dispute pending determination of the main case.

The case was filed against Pastor Daniel Walugembe, Abdu Ssekajja and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). Simon Kintu Zirintuusa, the registrar of the High Court Land Division ruled that the arguments advanced by Makerere University are doubtful since there is no new controversy between the university and the occupants led by Walugembe. According to the Court, the arguments advanced by the university are speculative and that KCCA has since rejected building plans by the bonafide occupants citing a pending appeal case over the land. The application by Makerere University and court decision arose from a fresh case filed on November 10 seeking for declaration that there is no kibanja that exists on Katanga land. In the fresh case, Makerere University is seeking for an order of court that the bonafide occupants should not develop or enjoy the disputed land and that all the structures be demolished. The fresh case comes amid a pending appeal in which Makerere University is seeking to overturn a 2015 judgment in which the court ruled that the Katanga Valley land was occupied by four family members and their licensees who are now bonafide occupants whose rights are well protected under the laws governing ownership of land. The four family members are Jonathan Yosamu Masembe, Bulasio Buyisi, George Kalimu and Samalie Nambogga. They were battling with Makerere University and the Commissioner for Land registration over cancellation of their Land titles and ownership of the land by Makerere University. The Court has since also dismissed with costs, an application in which Makerere University had sought injunctive orders against Katanga residents from developing or alienating their bibanja/ banofide tenancies. Last month, the same Court stopped government security agencies from arresting pastor Walugembe in regard to the same dispute. According to an August 11 letter, Makerere University acquired the land on Block 38 commonly referred to as Lower Katanga and that it was reserved for ‘future developments in line with our motto of building for the future.’ Local leaders protested Makerere move reasoning that the intention is to evict more than 50,000 bibanja holders without following the due process of the law. It is alleged that on many occasions, Makerere University resorted to unlawful means of evicting bibanja holders using the police and State House Unit in disregard of the court orders and decisions. On September 15, Internal Affairs Minister, Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Kahinda Otafiire directed the Inspector General of Police to guide members of the force to refrain from interfering with court orders not only in Katanga land matters but also in matters of similar nature. “Where a party is aggrieved, he or she should not use the Police force and the police force should not allow it to be used to defy a court order. The only course of action such a party should take should be to move to court to set aside the judgment or order he/she is aggrieved with,” Gen Otafiire wrote.

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