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Archive for April 3rd, 2007

Uganda: Sustainable development.

Posted by African Press International on April 3, 2007


Once again some sections of the country are astir over the land issue.

This follows the publication by a group of experts of a report in which it was recommended that the mailo land system of tenure should be abolished on the ground that it retards economic development.

The system is almost exclusively practised in the central region of the country. Mailo land tenure has been contentious since 1956 when one of the country’s leading lights, Zakaria Mungonya as minister of lands in the colonial government suggested in a major policy initiative that the system should be extended throughout the country.

Mungonya’s initiative was roundly resisted by the rest of the country outside Buganda where the traditional systems of tenure subsisted then as of now and the idea was wisely dropped. All the African coffee curing factories were based in Buganda, thanks to the mailo land title deeds which enabled their owners to obtain operating capital from banks. Indeed, the mailo land system contributed to the country’s development as witnessed by the fact that by the 1960s, 45 percent of the country’s revenue came from the Mukono triangle comprising the former Mukono, Bulemezi and Bugerere counties.

By the time the military government decided to nationalise foreign farms there were not less than 45 large-scale coffee, sugar and tea estates in the Mukono area. Today, almost all these estates have gone to waste and the land occupied by squatters who are not productive in any way.

The returned estates such as Mehta’s sugar and tea estates have done a lot in contributing to the recovery of the country’s economy. All these estates are on mailo land whose owners leased their holdings to the Mehta for long periods of time. It cannot therefore be gainsaid that the mailo land system retards development. present-day scholars have moved away from Mungonya’s insight and instead bash mailo land as the cause of the country’s economic miseries.

The argument is always that mailo land leads to fragmentation of the land into uneconomical pieces due to the system of succession which requires subdivisions to be inherited by one’s progenies. The other reason commonly quoted is that most people live on land whose title deeds are registered in the names of absentee owners.

Accordingly, one study which was published in 1993 recommended that the mailo owner should get a title to only the piece of land remaining after taking into account the portions occupied by tenants. This means that if one owned 20 acres and the tenants occupied 19 of them, the owner would remain with only one acre on his title.

Apart from this proposal being nonsensical from a constitutional point of view, since the constitution does not allow expropriation of property without compensation, there is no evidence that the new class of belittled landowners would be more productive than the
original owners were. Even if the government was to find the resources to compensate the present mailo land owners, the questions would still remain to be answered. For example, who is going to pay for the survey and registration fees for the present tenants?

As a landowner, I know that most of the so-called tenants in the present context are squatters who hide behind the twelve-year prescriptive rule to snatch other people’s properties and have no capacity to pay for what it takes to get a title deed.

The total area of Uganda is 241,000 sq kms. This is divided into:197000 sq km dry land, 44,000 open water and swamps, 167,000 arable land, 16,000 sq km forest reserves, 15,00 sq km game reserves and 500 sq km urban centres. The point we want to make here is that mailo land comprises of less than 20 percent of the arable land and of this, only the southern part with tall grass is arable. The question which arises is why do the studies concentrate on an area comprising of about only 10percent of arable land and forget the rest of the land which is arable? The answer is that although in terms of interest in tenure, mailo land is the same as freehold tenure, mailo has a stigma that many people wrongly feel it was freely dished out in 1900 to chiefs at the expense of peasants.

The first mistake experts make is to assume that the peasant society in Buganda was disadvantaged in any way. Social stratification in the kingdom was based on the royal class abataka (clan heads), the bakungu (senior chiefs, abaami (chiefs) and abakopi or those who have not been appointed to office. Every member of the four classes was entitled to own estates in land. In other words, every one of mature age was entitled to a secure tenement whose interest and size depended on one’s status in society. According to A. B. Mukwaya who together with my father, the late E. M. K. Mulira were among the pioneers of the East African Institute of Social Research, the precursor of Makerere Institute of Social research, tells us in his seminal work that the framers of the 1900 agreement on allotting mailo land worked on the assumption that they were only conferring in a permanent form the ancient rights and privileges of the allottee of square miles. Originally, it was assumed that there were
1,000 people with such rights, a figure which must have been suggested by the number of chiefs as this was easy to ascertain.

However, by the time the registration was completed, over 3,700 people with estates of whatever nature had been recorded. This means in a way that there were four times more peasants with estates and therefore mailo land after 1900 than there were chiefs.

The stigma attached to mailo land accordingly simply does not wash. The rights attached to mailo system as distinct from freeholds were articulated in the Land Law Act of 1908. Accordingly, there were more incidences and rights attached to mailo land ownership than were common with freehold. It follows that if there were an automatic conversion to freehold from mailo, the owners of mailo would lose certain rights. Other than this, there would be very little difference if in the interests of uniformity, all land was switched to freeholds. But who would bear the cost involved in this?

The other suggestion of turning all landholding into leaseholds has even more problems because it would vest the land in government which does not have the ability or resources to police over a million titles. Lastly, Idi Amin turned all mailo land into leasehold under the Land Reform Decree of 1975 but there was no attempt to implement the Act until the 1995 constitution restored the old system.
The new attempt to abolish the mailo system means that we have learnt nothing from our past. The idea of group title from which leaseholds could emanate in areas which still use traditional systems could be studied.

By Ham Mukasa – Norway

Published by African Press in Norway, apn,, tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525

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AU leadership not happy about Darfur developments

Posted by African Press International on April 3, 2007

Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Alpha Oumar Konaré, on Monday said he was “shocked and saddened” by series of incidents that have rocked the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS), APA has learnt.

An AU release cited incidents as the murder on 5 March 2007, of two AMIS personnel in Graida and the shooting in Jebel Marra, that targeted an AMIS helicopter carrying the deputy Force Commander, Brig. General Ephreim Rurangwa and his entourage on 31st March 2007.

It also mentioned the killing of five AMIS protection force soldiers from the Senegalese contingent, at the water point in Umbaro, on 1st April 2007.

“These attacks have been launched against the backdrop of an increasing spate of harassments, hijackings, threats and blackmail” which Konaré said, have been made against the Mission by some of those it is supposed to work with and assist.

Konaré maintained that the acts violated the different Ceasefire Agreements signed by all the parties to the conflict in Darfur and could derail the ongoing efforts by the AU and the UN to re-energize the peace process.

He reiterated his appeal to the Sudanese parties to fully cooperate and support to the efforts of the AU and UN Special Envoys, Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim and Mr. Jan Elliason to broaden the peace process and consolidate the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA).

Konaré expresed regrets over the “lack of sufficient cooperation, from both DPA signatories and the non-signatories and urged for a “more robust, comprehensive and cooperative manner by all the stakeholders.”

The African Union however expressed the willingness to continue working with the UN Security Council in order to address the new threats to peace and security in Darfur.

But it requested that a speedy investigation be conducted into the recent incidents with the full cooperation of all the parties involved so that the culprits could be brought to justice.

The AU said it however continue to implement the three-phase approach to the peacekeeping operation in Darfur, particularly the Heavy Support Package as well as the Hybrid Operation for which the UN and the AU submitted concrete proposals to the government of the Sudan.

Konaré lauded and paid tribute to the gallant men and women of AMIS who are deployed in Darfur and urged them to remain committed in helping the people of Darfur.

He finally assured the people and governments of Africa that “the supreme sacrifice that some members of AMIS have paid for peace in Darfur shall never be in vain”.

Published by Korir, African Press in Norway, apn,, source apa

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KACC Launches Anonymous Reporting System

Posted by African Press International on April 3, 2007

In its accelerated efforts to curb corruption and implement the Whistle Blower Protection Act, the Kenya Anticorruption Commission (KACC) has launched an anonymous reporting system. The system uses the worldwide recognised whistle blower system by the Business Keeper Monitoring System (BKMS®). The implementation of the system is a big plus for the war against corruption.

The system guarantees potential whistle blowers anonymity and information confidentiality. The identity of the whistle blower is hidden and the report made remains confidential as it can only be accessed by KACC officials. The system further assures the whistle blower anonymous dialogue with KACC officials. This system is in use at the state office of criminal investigations in Germany and in 29 countries for the German Telekom among other organizations.

The KACC in its website gives guidance on making a corruption report. There are many other possible ways of making a report such as doing so in person, by telephone (Hot line) and/or fax, by mail, and by email But the anonymous system is a good improvement and may attract many persons who may have shied before from making a report.
In this blog we support all efforts that make the war against corruption realisable.

By Dr. Stephen Karanja

Lifted and Published by African Press in Norway, apn, tel +47 932 99 739

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KACC Has Made Remarkable Achievements LSK New Boss!

Posted by African Press International on April 3, 2007

The new charman of Law Society of Kenya (LSK), Mr Okong’o Omogeni, has commended the Kenya Anticoruption Commission achievements in dealing with corruption. He said that in the former regime, former powerful ministers, permanent secretaries and even the Central Bank governors could not face the law.

Currently, there are a number of cases pending in courts against highly placed personalities among them permanent secretaries, a Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) governor and deputy governors, a former security intelligence boss, directors and managers of government corporation among others. In addition, on 29 March 2007, five senior civil servants were arraigned in court by the KACC. They include former Central Bank of Kenya deputy governor Eliphaz Riungu, former Commissioner of mines Collins Owayo, former CBK chief dealers Michael Wanjihia and Job Kilach and former permanent secretary Finance Wilfred Koinange.

Coming from the head of the lawyers’ organisation in Kenya, the praise of KACC is really sweet music as the commission has been blamed for incompetence. Recognition of the work done by KACC boosts its image as it has been in the receiving end of criticism especially from opposition politicians and civil society for the most time of its short life. In fact, the LSK boss would like the powers of the KACC to be extended to include prosecution of cases it investigates in order to forestall conflict with the powers of the Attorney General who is responsible for prosecutions. In the past, the KACC has investigated cases but on recommendation to prosecute to the AG the latter has return the files to the KACC requiring further investigation.

In order for the KACC to effectively do its work, it requires independence from other organs of state including the AG office. KACC should be given a free hand to investigate and prosecute cases. The current delay in prosecution of corruption cases can rightly be attributed to the allocation of powers to investigate to KACC and the prosecution powers to the AG. In this blog we have clearly supported the work done by the KACC and called for non-interference by other governance organs especially politicians. We believe strong and effective institution cannot flourish if their work is muddled with.

By Dr Stephen Karanja

Published by African Press in Norway, apn, tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525

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Mugabe has no choice but accept African leaders guidance

Posted by African Press International on April 3, 2007

  At the  Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit, South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki was appointed to mediate the political crisis in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe faced harsh criticism from his colleagues at closed-doors meetings and left the summit early, without comment.

Already before today’s meetings started, the host, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, made it clear that his Zimbabwean counterpart would be met with tougher demands than he is used to from his Southern African neighbours. He insisted the Zimbabwean crisis required “urgent” attention from SADC leaders, who would now seek a solution.

Then, the doors were closed and regional heads of state could be more frank about what they thought about President Mugabe’s brutal handling of the Zimbabwean opposition.

It soon became clear that SADC leaders now were demanding. President Mugabe was among the first to leave the meetings – and he did not seem pleased. He refused to make any comments to reporters.

As more heads of state started leaving, the press got a clearer picture. SADC leaders had demanded Mr Mugabe entered into a real dialogue with the opposition to stop the vicious circle of violence. And the crisis in Zimbabwe was now a SADC issue, not longer only a domestic issue for Mr Mugabe to solve.

“The leaders have expressed great concern over the worsening political situation in Zimbabwe,” Tanzanian President Kikwete said after finishing off the meeting. “The situation is not good both ways and SADC has decided to act,” he added, after referring to complaints from both the Zimbabwean opposition and President Mugabe about growing violence.

And he revealed that SADC had appointed President Mbeki to mediate in Zimbabwe on its behalf, underlining that SADC now had become a player in the country’s crisis. Both the ruling ZANU-PF party and Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were urged to cooperate with the South African President.

But as SADC was now taking on responsibility, President Kikwete urged Western powers to stop their one-sided actions against the Mugabe regime. “Diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe, the EU and the US are not healthy,” he said, urging the West to engage in communication with Zimbabwe instead of isolating it. SADC leaders made it clear they would prefer the US and EU to lift their sanctions against Zimbabwe, claiming these only fuelled the conflict and the economic crisis.

While the SADC summit in Dar-es-Salaam went on, however, the Mugabe regime was reported continuing on its crack-down on the opposition at home. “The government of Zimbabwe has intensified its brutal suppression of its own citizens in an effort to crush all forms of dissent,” said Georgette Gagnon of Human Rights Watch at a press conference in Johannesburg today.

“The crackdown shows the government has extended its attack on political dissent to ordinary Zimbabweans,” Ms Gagnon added. Human Rights Watch had interviewed many victims of abuse and witnesses to the political unrest in Zimbabwe, some telling that, for the past few weeks, police forces patrolling urban areas had “randomly and viciously beaten Zimbabweans in the streets, shopping malls, and in bars and beer halls.”

Also in Zimbabwe, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai – who was detained again for some hours yesterday – talked to the press. The opposition chief said he would engage in the SADC mediation. He would also be happy to start discussing with the ruling party, in particular regarding an “honourable” retirement from power for President Mugabe.

Mr Mugabe, for his sake, already tomorrow again will have to face a difficult situation, meeting with a critical committee of the ruling ZANU-PF. The committee is to decide on whether to hold presidential elections in 2008 – according to the electoral timetable – or first in 2010, which is Mr Mugabe’s desire. In the ruling party impatience with the 83-year-old President is mounting, and a humiliation tomorrow is not ruled out.

Lifted and published by African Press in Norway, apn


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