The Minister of Land, Housing and Urban Development, Hon. Betty Amongi has appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into land matters chaired by Hon. Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire to testify on subject land comprised in LRV 3852, Folio 22, plot 24 b, Kyabazinga way, measuring 5.535 hectares in Jinja District.
Hon. Amongi had been cited by different Jinja District officials as having written a letter to them with the directive to grant Thummar Jay Mangalal Patel a freehold tenure while the lease to Tirupati was still subsisting.
Amongi stated that she made a request, not a directive, to the Jinja District Authorities with the knowledge that land had reverted back to Jinja Municipal Council. She explained that she got involved in the contested land with the knowledge that Hon. Balyeku had wanted land for the investor and not for his personal interests. She was shocked to learn that Hon. Balyeku had a special interest in the land for personal use and not for the investor as had been informed and decried officers who take advantage of offices like hers to front their agendas in the guise of acquiring land for investors.
When asked why a whole minister was involved in such affairs instead of leaving them to the concerned authorities like Uganda Investment Authority, she informed that the purported investor had asked for land that Uganda Investment Authority did not have which necessitated her ministry and position to be involved.
When asked if it was brought to her attention that the contested land had a subsisting lease with Tirupati LTD, she answered that one of the Jinja District Political leaders had informed her that the Tirupati issue had been handled and the decisions made would encompass the interests of Tirupati.
Hon. Betty Amongi, in a civil dialogue with the Chair Commission of Inquiry into land matters, Hon. Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire and Commissioners, made propositions about how land management could be improved in Uganda. She stated that land challenges in Uganda are a time bomb that could spark off a war if not well handled.
She decried having incompetent uneducated and under facilitated people who are easily lured by the rich chairing Area Land Committees and District land boards and mooted that having a centralized body with qualified and competent people who are trained and well facilitated would solve many land challenges.
She also observed that countries like Ghana that have organized land tenure systems have land owned by the Government and not individuals as it is in Uganda.
She submitted that even if a computerized system of acquiring land titles was put into place, the old land titles acquired tainted with fraud and irregularities like the Tirupati one would still be problematic and concluded that there is a need to sort out the mismanagement of issuing of land titles before computerizing the system.