Bakaluba Mukasa, Mukono district officials refuse to return Buganda Kingdom assets

The rift between Mukono District Local Government and the Buganda Kingdom has widened. It is resulting from the 49 acres of land which is partly occupied by the district.

The district leadership says Buganda government has continued giving out part of this land to different people without their notification and consent given the fact that they still have running lease agreements for this land.

Mukono district chairman, Rev. Dr. Peter Bakaluba Mukasa, alleges that they were surprised to find people they didn’t know about doing renovations on one of the buildings fenced inside the district community center which is currently working as the district youth center. 

“In a provocative manner, the person who claims he got a lease from Buganda Land Board (BLB) and working from underground had allocated private security guards to limit access into the facility. We are yet to know who this person is but we instructed police to arrest and have the culprits off our premises,” Bakaluba told says.

On Tuesday last week, Bakaluba placed a sign post at the entrance into this facility showing that the community center is owned by the district.

Over seven years ago, MTN donated close to 100 computers which are fully connected to the internet to the Youth center. MTN also fenced off the premises and built a modern basketball coat, intended to cater for the youth.

The district councilors during the past political term and the Resident District Commissioner then, Fred Bamwine spent a number of years fighting people who alleged they had got land leases from BLB on the part of these 49 acres of land which the district still claims ownership yet also BLB says this land belongs to Buganda government.

Among the plots of land which had been leased off in a manner which the district leadership contested had a house which is utilized by the health workers. This had been taken by Dr. Anthony Kkonde, the Mukono Municipality Medical Officer.

Dr. Kkonde insisted that he had legally acquired a lease on this piece of land. However, he lost the property as the district declined to surrender the health workers’ houses and land to him.

It has also been established that the accumulating tenancy arrears over sh1.7bn which Buganda Kingdom is demanding from the district could be the trouble course.

It is reported that in 2015, the district agreed with Buganda officials to exempt it from paying rent for the buildings that had accumulated before but to consider new months and the kingdom accepted the leaders’ plea. That was still during the reign of former district chairman, Andrew Ssenyonga.

Namulondo Investments Limited, the business arm of Buganda Kingdom on August 13, 2015 served the district with a document indicating the rates which were to be followed while affecting the new payments. However, since then, the district failed to honor the commitment.

The Buganda Land Board (BLB) Kyaggwe territory manager, Yosia Kimogofu told the media recently that the Kingdom owes the district ground rent arrears from the buildings that include among others, the district headquarters at Kauga in Mukono Central Division.

Kimogofu added that the district also owes the kingdom rent arrears for buildings occupied by Nakifuma, Ntenjeru, Naggojje, Nakisunga, Koome and Goma sub-counties.

During the district international berated youth day celebrations held at Ntaawo last week, the district female youth councillor, Florence Birungi reported that she was refused to access the youth center twice by the security that had been deployed there.

“Even when I tried to show them my district identity card presenting me as a youth leader, I was not considered. We are now worried about the security of our computers and other assets inside!” Birungi said.

She added that what bothers them is the fact that the place which has for over three years been working as a camp for Local Defense Unit (LDU), the private security guards maneuvered into it and took over its security alongside the presence of LDUs.

As the campaigns heated up last year, former district chairman, Andrew Ssenyonga invited Mengo officials headed by the Minister in charge of Local Government, Joseph Kawuki and performed the formal handover of the land and other property on it back to Buganda.

Ssenyonga’s action was following President Yoweri Museveni’s hand over of the land titles of the land housing several sub-counties and district headquarters in the central region to the Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi.

Ssenyonga said if the district was to continue using the property which he returned back to Mengo, they were to go into formal agreement to either rent or get a lease.

However, Bakaluba refutes the process saying Ssenyonga, who is his predecessor, was just playing politics.

He says they have gone through all the district documents but they have never come across any document talking about the said handover of the land back to Mengo.

“Ssenyonga as the district chairperson was supposed to get the district council resolution backing him on that action and later followed by a formal letter from the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) as the custodian of the district property. But none of those protocols were followed,” he insists.

Mukono Resident District Commissioner, Fatuma Ndisaba Nabitaka said the district has got a running lease which still has 23 years.

“We are occupying the land legally and coming out to claim the property on it should not be misinterpreted as being defiant to Buganda Kingdom. If our fellow leaders in BLB have interest in some of the property on it, they must honor our leadership and engage us but not just do things behind our backs,” the RDC said.

A big block of this land is reported to have been embezzled by different district officials including civil servants and political leaders whom the current leaders do not want to reveal at the moment.

But some of those whose names have come out into the public claim to have got the land through BLB.

The district CAO, James Nkata wrote to the Mukono Municipality Town Clerk asking him to make investigations into the youth center saga and find out the person behind its takeover.

When New Vision contacted the Minister in charge of information at Mengo, Noah Kiyimba, he said he was going to get the relevant information from the concerned officials and promised to get back to us later.

However, when we called him afterwards, he declined to answer our calls. Yosia Kimogofu, the head of BLB Kyaggwe branch when contacted said these matters have now gone out of his hands. Kimogofu forwarded us to BLB spokesperson, Denis Bugaya.

When called, Bugaya put off our call and requested that we send a message. Unfortunately, even after receiving the message, he did not get back to us.

Additional reporting by the New Vision

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