May 30, 2018 – Battle lines are being drawn once again as government prepares to bring back a law to enable the compulsory of land. NRM Chief Whip and Kiboga Woman MP Ruth Nankabirwa has revealed that a bill to that effect will be presented afresh during the next session of parliament.
The proposals were first tabled before parliament last year as part of the constitutional (amendment) bill 2017, intended to amend article 26 of the constitution. The principal article provides for the right of persons to own property and provides modalities on how it can be acquired by the government.
The proposed amendments allow the government or a local authority, to take over land and deposit with the court, a sum of money in compensation for properties declared for compulsory acquisition pending resolution of any arising dispute. Proponents of the bill believe it will speed up implementation of infrastructure projects that are often held up by disputes over valuation.
The proposals met popular opposition across the country with politicians and civil society organizations warning that the proposed amendments had far-reaching implications and were likely to deprive Ugandans of the right to own land.
In the heat of the storm, the amendments were shelved. However, Nankabirwa said that the move was a tactical withdrawal intended to pave way for urgent business in parliament. She cited the consideration of policy statements, the budget framework paper, and amendments on the presidential age, as areas that needed priority.
Nankabirwa adds that the government will prioritize the bill during the next session of Parliament. She made the statements today while briefing journalists on issues in the office of the chief whip, at Parliament today.
Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba says the bill was unpopular. He adds that opponents of the amendments are ready to take the government on by mobilizing citizens against the proposals.
The legal and Parliamentary affairs committee reportedly asked for more time to finalize consideration of the bill. The time has since elapsed.
Last year, a high-level subcommittee led by Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi was set up to scrutinize the proposal and advise the ruling National Resistance Movement-NRM party caucus on how to proceed with the Bill. But the committee advised withdrawal of the amendment from the floor.
Uganda Radio Network.