Entebbe, – The Minister of Lands, Judith Nabakooba, addressed Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) councilors at the intelligence training institute in Entebbe, where she provided guidance on effectively managing land conflicts in the city. Minister Nabakooba emphasized that land, as a socio-economic asset, is facing a growing number of disputes requiring urgent resolution.
During her speech on February 12, 2024, the Minister stressed the importance of the 2006 Local Council Courts Act, which empowers local councilors to handle land conflicts and deliver justice swiftly to affected individuals. Various types of land conflicts were cited by Minister Nabakooba, including inter-district border disputes, disagreements between landlords and tenants, unlawful evictions, refusals of land acquisition by investors, land boundary disputes between individuals, forceful entry and detainer cases, as well as fraudulent acquisition of land titles.
In her address to the councilors, Minister Nabakooba clarified the jurisdictional mandate of local councilors in dealing with land disputes. According to her, local councilors of levels II and III possess the authority to resolve land conflicts under customary tenure. Conversely, the jurisdiction of Local Council III is restricted when it comes to titled land.
“The Land Act Cap 227 as amended in 2001 grants local councilors the power to handle cases related to land disputes of a customary nature,” Minister Nabakooba emphasized.
She further highlighted that the third schedule to the Local Council Courts Act 2006 extends these powers, urging the councilors to educate residents about their land rights and responsibilities and maintain accurate land information registers.
Furthermore, Minister Nabakooba emphasized the importance of councilors forwarding complaints beyond their jurisdiction to relevant authorities for proper management. In cases of land disputes, she added, councilors should act as eyewitnesses by providing evidence in formal courts when necessary.
To ensure the efficient functioning of local council courts, the Minister recommended that councilors establish criminal and civil courts within their jurisdiction, adhering to the local council administration of justice guidelines. Protecting residents from illegal or unlawful evictions was identified as another crucial responsibility.
Councilors were also encouraged to provide the district security committee with firsthand information regarding land grabbing and not to cooperate with land grabbers who infringe on the rights and interests of residents.
Additionally, Minister Nabakooba advised the councilors to actively participate in survey works conducted in their areas in accordance with the law, collaborating with law enforcement agencies to oversee smooth operations. In the event of estate distribution involving customary land, councilors may engage in the process.
The Minister emphasized that councilors have a duty to protect vulnerable groups, including children and women, ensuring their equal access to land. Lastly, Minister Nabakooba cautioned councilors and their families against purchasing disputed land, emphasizing the need for ethical conduct, natural justice, gender sensitivity, and the upholding of human rights.
Minister Nabakooba concluded her address by reminding councilors that Uganda has both formal and informal mechanisms in place to resolve land conflicts. By adhering to their assigned roles and responsibilities, she believes that the councilors can play a significant role in reducing land disputes and fostering socio-economic transformation in the city.
The one-week leadership and patriotic course attended by KCCA councilors aims to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to drive positive change in their local communities.