This is what the Constitutional Amendment Bill of 2017 do: It makes it easier for the State to grab land!
The Constitutional Amendment Bill has been criticized and created worry, since the National Resistance Movement (NRM) have worked for and to get their leader to stay in charge and executive as long as he pleases. That is the President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. So the article 102 (b) could easily been seen as possible change to fit the life and the age of the aging President. Instead, the gazetted bill of retired Major General Kahinda Otafiire is about making it easier for the state to compensate and take land from civilians. Since they want to make more cheap and make it legal to take land. If so make it easier to settle in court. This is clearly making the road development and pipeline building cheaper, also giving the government more power. Just by looking at the text from the government. Take a look!
“The purpose of the Bill is to resolve the current problem of delayed implementation of Government infrastructure and investment projects due to disputes arising out of the compulsory land acquisition process. The problem of delayed Government projects has caused significant financial loss to the Government amounting to millions of dollars in penalties paid to road contractors for redundant machinery at construction or project sites as the courts attempt to resolve the disputes, most of which relate to quantum of compensation” (Otafiire, 2017).
Original Article 26:
“26. Protection from deprivation of property.
(1) Every person has a right to own property either individually or in association with others.
(2) No person shall be compulsorily deprived of property or any interest in or right over property of any description except where the following conditions are satisfied—
(a) the taking of possession or acquisition is necessary for public use or in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; and
(b) the compulsory taking of possession or acquisition of property is made under a law which makes provision for—
(i) prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation, prior to the taking of possession or acquisition of the property; and
(ii) a right of access to a court of law by any person who has an interest or right over the property” (Constitution of 8th October 1995)
Amendment of Article 26:
“(3) Where the owner of property or any person having any interest in or right over property objects to the compensation awarded under a law made under clause (2Xb), the Government or local government shall deposit with court for the property owner or any person having any interest in or right over the property, the compensation awarded for the property, and the Government or local government shall take possession of the property pending determination by the court of any dispute relating to the compensation” (Otafiire, 2017).
“(4) The owner of property or person having any interest in or right over the property shall have a right to access the compensation deposited with the court referred to in clause (3),at any time during the determination of the dispute” (Otafiire, 2017).
“(5) Parliament shall, by law, prescribe the time within which any dispute referred to in clause (3) shall be determined” (Otafiire, 2017).
So now the part of the article 2 (b) was already giving the citizens and land owners set of rights, but not telling how the procedure for compensation for possible value of the land and neither loss of possible costs of moving. The new part of article 26, is about giving the courts rights to find compensation and awards to fellow citizens property.
What is new is even as the pending award and compensation to the land owner, the government still has right to take possession of the land. Which means the government even if the land owner or the one who has the title of the land has to move before the case is settled in courts. This means that the government can cease the land and later pay the people who lives on the land. So if the state and need to build infrastructure or any other project, they can take possession of the land and pay-off the ones living there later.
The Parliament can put a time-table for the possible ending of land dispute, but the possession is already cleared by the state. Therefore, the loss of possession and pending time depends. The real issue isn’t only the dispute, but no consideration of the loss of title, livelihood or even the possible all other costs like moving to another property or housing. This should have been taken in consideration when writing new standards. This one only gives positives to the state, but the citizens and owners of land titles get the hurt.
It is easy to see the Republic/State are the ones winning with the change of article 26 in the constitution not the citizens. The changes of the law is only to benefit the state and the ones acting by orders of the state, not for the citizens. This should be itself worrying as there are no part that is positive for the citizens in the amendment. The land can be possessed and has to wait for the time-table put forward by the Parliament and within that time while the dispute happening hopefully get compensated. Clearly, this is only giving more powers to the state, while taking away the total ownership of land. Since the state can possibly take possession and pay the title-owner later. Peace.
Otafiire, Kahinda – ‘Constitutional Amendment Bill of 2017’ – 08.06.2017 – Uganda Gazette No. 33, Volume CX, Bill Supplement No. 7