Govt resurrects emotive Land Acquisition Bill

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By Elizabeth KamurungiA section of the public opposes the Bill, warning that it is a government ploy to grab people’s land.

President Museveni and then Lands State Minister Aidah Nantaba in Kayunga in June 2021 where the President had gone to mediate a land dispute. The government is set to reintroduce the compulsory Land Acquisition Bill.  PHOTO/FILE

The government is set to reintroduce the controversial Land Acquisition Bill that, among others, seeks to enable compulsory land acquisition for strategic government development projects.

The Bill is among the 62 proposed legislations presented by President Museveni during the State-of-the-Nation Address on Tuesday that are to be introduced by government to the 11th Parliament during its second session that started on June 7.

According to the Ministry of Lands, the object of the draft Bill is to allow the government to acquire land for timely implementation of public works and end years of prolonged acquisition processes that have in the past cost the country billions of shillings and hindered essential projects.
The idea of the government to take over even privately owned land for public works dates back to 2017, and has often raised a raging debate across the political divide that remains unsettled.

Buganda premier Charles Peter Mayiga vowed to oppose the new proposed land law that seeks to provide for compulsory acquisition of land for government development projects, warning that it is a ploy to grab people’s land.
“As Buganda Kingdom, we shall not allow any law on land that seeks to grab land from Kabaka’s subjects and undermine Kabaka’s authority over land. They [government] should stop provoking us,”Mr Mayiga told the Lukiiko (Buganda parliament).

The property law
Article 26(2) of the Constitution stipulates that: “No person shall be compulsorily deprived of property or any interest in right over property of any description except where taking possession is necessary for public use and, or, is made under the law after prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation.”
However, in 2017, the government tabled the controversial Constitution Amendment Bill, 2017 that sought, among other things,  to amend Article 26 of the Constitution to allow government “compulsory acquisition” of private land for national projects and deposit in court the compensation money it deems appropriate regardless of whether the owner consents to it or not.

In the same year, President Museveni, conducted a countrywide radio tour to face the people with the aim of softening the public to embrace the proposed amendments.
Many, however, remained unyielding.  At the time, most of the Cabinet ministers as well as NRM legislators remained silent on the matter.
But the attempts to amend Article 26, which safeguards private land until adequate and timely compensation is made, were rejected by the 10th Parliament, and the government retreated to re-strategise.

Mr Dennis Obbo, the spokesperson at the Ministry of Lands, yesterday told Daily Monitor that the draft document is with the Ministry of Justice for drafting of a new Bill, after consultations with stakeholders, across the country.
Without delving into the details of the new amendments to the proposed law, Mr Obbo said some changes have been made to ensure the processes are within the confines of the Supreme Law.
“It is important we do not delay capital investments, which has been the case. Government in the past has lost $27m (Shs101b) per year in servicing debts because of such acquisition delays. We have looked at a win-win situation, listen to the owner of the land but also make sure government does not lose out,” Mr Obbo said.
The new Bill will maintain the deposit of compensation money on an escrow account in case a land owner has reservations about the amount they are offered.

The compensation rates will be determined by government valuer, according to the Valuation Bill, 2022, another attendant legislation that seeks to harmonise the acquisition process.
The Land Acquisition Bill also established a tribunal, headed by a High Court Judge to handle any disputes. Such a complaint must be heard and decided on within 30 days, and an appeal in 45 days.
In case Parliament approves the controversial amendments, Mr Obbo reiterated that land owners will be given a notice, allowed six months to vacate the land in question, and the government will only take over the land after compensation, or settlement in case of disputes.

Other inclusions
The draft Bill, according to sources in the Attorney General’s chambers, will also provide for resettlement and relocation packages as opposed to compensation.
The government will also table the Land Act Amendment Bill, 2022 that seeks to address land issues including the rampant eviction of bibanja holders and reorganise the current land tenure systems.

A sub-committee of the Cabinet chaired by Deputy Prime minister, Gen Moses Ali, is currently studying the report by the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire Commission to inform major amendments to streamline the land business.
The Gen Ali committee is reported to be under strict instructions to come up with “incontrovertible amendments” that are needed to stop rampant illegal evictions in the country.
Government will also reintroduce the Health Insurance Bill that elapsed with the 10th Parliament. The legislation  seeks to provide universal healthcare to all Ugandans.

Bills govt will present for legislation in 2022/2023 

1. The Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces Act (Amendment) Bill 2022
2. The Social Impact Assessment and Accountability Bill
3. Uganda National Kiswahili Council Bill
4. The Employment (Amendment) Bill
5. The Occupational Safety and Health (Amendment) Bill
6. The Workers Compensation (Amend) Bill
7. Labour Unions (Amendment) Bill
8. The Culture and Creative Bill
9. The Veterinary Practitioners Bill
10. Animal Diseases Amendment Bill
11. Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2022.

12. The Insolvency (Amendment) Bill, 2022.
13. The Law Revision (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, 2022.
14. Energy Efficiency and Conservation Bill
15. Amendment of Atomic Energy Act,2008
16. Building Substances Bill,2022
17. The National Health Insurance Scheme Bill,2019
18. The Food and Drug Authority Bill,2017
19. Health Professional Council’s Authority Bill,2016
20. The Museums and Monuments Bill 2022
21. The Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium (Amendment) Bill.
22. Business Technical Vocational Education and Training (Amendment) Bill

23. The National Teachers’ Bill.

24. The Physical Activity and Sports Bill
25. The Local Government (Amend) Bill
26. The Uganda Communication (Amendment) Bill
27. National Information Technology (Amendment)Bill
28. Engineers Registration (Amend) Bill.
29. Uganda Railways Corporation (Amendment) Bill
30. Land Acquisition Bill,2022
31. Valuation Bill,2022
32. Real Estates Bill,2022
33. Land Act (Amendment) Bill,2022

34. Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill
35. Small Arms and Light Weapons Control Bill
36. The Explosives Bill.
37. Transitional Justice Bill
38. Microfinance Deposit Taking Institutions (Amendment) Bill,2020
39. Annual Macroeconomic and Fiscal Performance Report FY 2021/2022
40. National Budget Framework Paper for FY 2023/2024
41. Semi – Annual Budget Performance Report FY 2022/2023.
42. Semi – Annual Macroeconomic and Fiscal Performance Report FY2022/2023

43. Annual Budget Estimates FY 2023/2024
44. The Appropriation Bill FY 2023/2024
45. Treasury Memoranda FY 2023/2024
46. Corrigenda FY 2023/24
47. Income Tax (Amendment)Bill,2023
48. Excise Duty(Amendment)Bill,2023
49. The Value Added Tax (Amend) Bill, 2023
50. The Stamps Duty (Amendment) Bill, 2023
51. Traffic and Road Safety (Amendment)Bill, 2023
52. Lotteries and Gaming(Amendment)Bill,2023
53. The Tax Procedures Code (Amendment) Bill 2023
54. Tax Appeals Tribunal(Amendment)Bill,2023
55. The Finance (Amendment) Bill, 2023
56. Budget Speech for FY 2023/2024.

57.The Supplementary Appropriation Bill FY 2022/2023
58. The Uganda National Council of Science and Technology (Amendment) Bill
59. Competition Bill
60. Consumer Protection Bill
61. Legal Metrology Bill
62. Industrial and Scientific Metrology Bill

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