The Chairperson Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters, Hon. Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire was hosted by Mr. Ronald Ssebutiko on Bukedde FM Radio (100.5) on the Program Mugabansonga that runs 7-8pm.
In an expansive interview, Hon. Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire noted that although the Commission was constituted in November by H.E Yoweri Museveni, the president of the Republic, they were sworn in February 2017 and started operating in May 2017.
They started with high level consultations from different Kingdoms like that of Buganda, Bunyoro and the Karamoja region and different land experts like different Professors from Makerere University.
The Chairperson and Commissioners set up different units to handle unique land challenges like Complaints department, Investigations Department, Follow-up Department and the Mediation Department among other key department that have been in operation at the Commission.
She noted that over 7780 land cases have been reported, not to mention the numerous phone calls the Commission has been receiving on a daily basis.
When asked how she and the Commission staff have managed to efficiently carry out its mandate to the satisfaction of many, she noted that the Commission has been using an inquisitorial approach where it handled case by case.
When asked by the host who the land grabbers are, Hon. Lady Catherine Bamugemereire noted that in each era, be it 1900, 1938, 1945, 1975 or even our own, it is easy for people with money, access to power and access to instruments of coercion among other advantages over others to grab land.
When asked about the different cases where the Commission has saved Government money, a case in point being the Isimba Dam Hydro- power project, Hon. Catherine Bamugemereire noted that the Isimba Hydro power project compensations were halted up today.
She noted that some of the issues that have brought conflict include over lapping interests on land brought by historical injustices that ushered in tenure systems like free hold, lease hold and mailo tenure system.
These at times lead to misunderstanding between Bibanja owners and Landlords, a challenge the Commission ably handled by setting up a mediation department where warring parties could sit on a round table and agree on a way forward.
She mentioned other causes as being fraudulent surveying, commoditization of land, double titling, criminalization and militarization of land, impunity, elite capture of land and population increase.
When asked how she managed to chair three Commissions of inquiry that have been very successful and instrumental in instigating change like the KCCA probe, UNRA probe and now the Land Probe, Hon. Bamugemereire asserted that the boldness, firmness, patience, ability, wisdom and even endurance has come solely from God, coupled with the dedicated, committed and competent people she has worked with on the various Commissions.
She also highlighted the enabling virtues of professionalism, ethics and integrity and diligence.
She called upon Ugandans to remain calm even if the Commission is no longer taking complaints but to trust that the appointing authority will come up with a solution. She also urged Ugandans to be calm and mindful of others especially as we approach the festive season not to evict others or grab other people’s land.
She concluded by thanking people who worked hand in hand with the Commission, those who entrusted their cases to be handled by the Commission, especially the complainants and respondents and appealed to those who in any way felt offended by the Commission as it carried out its duties to consider the fact that it was for the good of the concerned parties and that the Commission did its best to work in professional and ethical ways.