Mbale residents living on 20 square miles of land belonging to the Semei Kakungulu estate in Mbale District have a reason to smile after the government said it would compensate the owners to stop their eviction.
The announcement, in fulfillment of President Museveni’s 2011 pledge to the affected residents, was delivered by the Minister of State for Housing, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, at Namanyonyi Sub-county headquarters on Monday
“We are going to engage the landlords with a view of compensating them so that you live free in your land without eviction threats,” Dr Baryomunsi said, adding they will soon send the chief government valuer to assess the land in question.
Dr Baryomunsi also assured residents that he will write to the Resident District Commissioner, Mr Barasa Ogajo, and direct him to stop any threat or eviction on the said land.
“The landlords have no powers to evict people. NRM government cannot allow that to happen because there are existing lawful procedures to follow,” he said.
Dr Baryomunsi made the remarks during a follow-up mobilisation meeting on the President.
Mr Jonadabu Keki, the chairperson of Namanyonyi Sub-county, said: “We are happy with the decision but we ask that it should be implemented very fast because my people are living in fear.”
Mr Keki said the colonial government acted with impunity in handing over the land to Kakungulu without compensating the original owners.
“This land was forcibly taken away from our ancestors by the colonial government and given to Kakungulu as token of appreciation without compensation. This was a mistake and it should be corrected,” he said.
Kakungulu, a Buganda Kingdom chief, was a British agent whom the colonialists used to impose their rule in the eastern region.
Kakungulu Estates manager Rachel Kakungulu welcomed the government position but dismissed allegations that they are threatening locals.
“We have no problem selling land to government because we have been doing so,” she said.