A walk through the current election time in Uganda 2015

Mbabazi M7 Besigye

We are coming to the years end. In a little week we will kiss the new-year and touch 2016. What a day that will be! We have seen and felt in 2015 what politics do and does to society in Uganda. This would have sounded differently a few months ago. This is a quick current pre-view and I hope you don’t mind! 

NRM-ballot-boxes-599x250

The General Election is set for mid-February that means we have over 50 days still of campaigning. The Campaign rallies will feel a déjà vu at this point and would not be different unless the NRM, FDC or Go-Forward does any major stunt. The minor candidates are dwindling in the wind and are gone as quick as they set of at their nomination day.

Badru EC

The Chairman of the Electoral Commission got a heavy pay rise and earns now 35 Million shillings a month. That must be to settle the score for the government and secure the rigging system. We can’t not believe earning all of sudden 29 million more shillings a month comes for free and not with a price. He surely will pay Mzee back.

Ntungamo 13.12.15 Yellow

The IGP Kale Kayihura went into the Ntungamo after the clashes in the town. The reports we’re blaming NRM big-men and Police to taking charge against the Go-Forward Supporters at the venue. Gen. Kayihura has said after “he only went on orders”. We can also see a week or so after there have been arrested many of the leaders and campaign officials for Amama Mbabazi, but none of the NRM men. Later Mzee has promised to pay a sustainable fee to the NRM-Supporters who was hurt, but not the others and it was 1, 5 million shillings each to mend their wounds.

FDC Convoy Attack 22.12.2015 P1

We can also see how the Police get more and more violent on the campaign trail. There been attacks by NRM men towards the FDC convoy when they trailed the north. Deputy Speaker Oulanyah was in charge of the men standing off towards the FDC and their convoy. Nothing has happen ever since that happened. The FDC has had stand-off near Fort Portal and in Gulu with no feedback from Authorities on the matters. The Go-Forward have also had issues in Northern Uganda. The police interfere and also shut down venues as they feel. They are interfering into politics more than the UPDF Members of Parliament do!

Rhino Health Care Arua 29.12.15 P4

On the 29th December a traditional day of rallying the FDC convoy got violent meeting with police while going to Rhino Camp Health Care facility in Madi. The Go-Forward aspirant Bright Muhumuza we’re supposable jailed in Ntungamo for his involvement in the Ntungamo clashes. While this was happen around the NRM who we’re sending men door to door in Kalangala and offering the people 500 meager shillings to shun the rallies of Go-Forward Amama Mbabazi. This is just another day in the democratic nation of Uganda.

Elton Joseph Mabirizi 17.11.15

An Independent Candidate Elton Joseph Mabirizi was early on the campaign trail taken and kidnaped. He we’re returned after that but his campaign has been silent and not made fuzz since.

NRM PRimaries Pre Ticket

We have seen the NRM Primary Elections which have been fraudulent and tragic events, not only for the losers, but for the party in general. Hard to take serious with the magnificent missteps and arrogance not only from Dr. Tanga Odoi and the other men running it. Okay that Secretary General Justine Kasule Lumumba can be mad and or whatever potion she is on to save face, still the NRM looks weak and foolish. The Unnecessary violence, rigging and bribing makes it looks a picked race from the get-go not a fully-democratic-exercise where the NRM members decided who is their favorite, instead sole candidacy and a few fallen Minsters are the outcome and NRM looks weaker than before, instead of a strong force behind their almighty Mzee.

NRM UPC Arua 16.11.15

The Uganda People Congress has had their wrangles before the up-coming general elections. First with the issues within the opposition alliance TDA or The Democratic Alliance! This shows that the TDA-wrangle proved to have split leadership something have been brewing for a while. Ever since Jimmy Akena became the President in the Party in November 2014 there has been issues. This been visible with the former-president Olara A. Otunnu who has led the party for a decade before, the wrangle led to the UPC going out of the TDA alliance as they picked their common presidential candidate and FDC went out of the TDA a little later as well. The UPC went further with their trail in this elections, the new leadership has lost in court and have to give back to Otunnu, even though Akena will reaffirm the party with a new National Council and get his position as president again. This is not the only thing Akena has been doing. They have no Presidential Candidate and pulled out of TDA. Therefore he has gone and done something that would be unheard and should be unheard of since looking at the history of the party, the UPC has gone into alliance and will collaborate with the NRM in the General Election, there been reports of decent pay-off to Akena, and that would surprise me or anybody else for that matter, but the legacy of his father is really vomiting on.

Mao Masaka Mbabazi 091115

The DP and Norbert Mao have also gone into a strange state. The UPC is two of many parties this time that doesn’t have a presidential candidate. Norbert Mao have been a vital part of the TDA and is as a rare breed, a President of a Party and not officially running for MP in his constituency even if he have been running there since the 90s. There must be somebody grinning in Gulu knowing that UPC and NRM can take the spot. The DP have weaken themselves with the alliance. They need a good result from Go-Forward Presidential Candidate to eat well and see the fruition of the alliance. Neither or they looks stupid with their loss of their main candidate. They have also missed their prime candidate in Kampala Erias Lukwago who have gone independent and is supporting Dr. Kizza Besigye for presidency instead of Mbabazi. Therefore the DP is struggling and will not be seen as a vital part or piece in the election. They will be more a tool in the tool-box for the TDA instead of strong force anywhere.

Police in Bugiri 21.10.15

If we go a bit back in time again, there been steady spread of fear and fear-mongering from Mzee. Something that I have seen all 2015! We can see that with the condition, that he is the only one who can control the UPDF; that is the definition of spreading fear.

Amama Mbabazi Masindi Police Station 27.12.15

There will be more empty promises from the NRM-Regime, be more police interference in the coming elections and after since they have promised much more money since they gotten post-election violence money.

There is too much who is wrong. There might be European Monitoring team of the election period in Uganda, but doesn’t seem to stop the violations from the central government. The only one who let it be peaceful in November was the expected and two-days of papal visit in Kampala and to the martyrs resting place. After that the Police and NRM have gone back to normal. The only one with some peace and only some attention from the Police is the FDC presidential Candidate.

Lukwago-Eria

The mayoral candidates of Kampala Erias Lukwago have also met strong opposition from the local community and police in the city. That might happen again. I would not be surprised. It is natural that they support the NRM candidate.  I am sure that the EC and KCCA have a plan to upset and cut the grip on the public that Lord Mayor Lukwago have on Kampala.

We will see more foolishness during election time and until February! The NRM-Regime and their forces can’t help themselves! They have a natural talent to throw BS towards the leaders of opposition. Still waiting to see one of the Presidential Candidate in prison or get preventative-arrest. The interesting thing is how little use there been of Public Order Management Act that been used more than toilet-paper by the Ugandan Police in recent times. We will see how it goes and how they will behave. We will also see how the NRM-Regime will continue to accept the FDC progress and the public acceptance of the Go-Forward campaign. We can’t expect it since it’s against the normalcy of the arrogance of Mzee and his loyal paid-off cronies. Peace!

Statement from Hon. Betty Ocan – on the events leading to campaign violence in Lalogi, Gulu (Released: 24.12.2015)

FDC Convoy Attack 22.12.2015 P1

Tuesday December 22nd, was the day for Uganda’s Presidential Candidate Dr Kizza Besigye to have a campaign rally in Gulu district. To build up to the this, the FDC national campaign team arranged to hold mini rallies in Bobi, Lakwana (Opit), Odek (Acet), Lalogi sub counties and Gulu municipality at the Carribean/ Kauda grounds.

After his successful rallies in Opit and Acet trading centers, Dr Besigye was due to travel to Lalogi. I, Hon Betty Aol Ocan being the area Woman MP and host of my Party President was in the advance team responsible for preparation of his rallies. As such I was always ahead and in Lalogi I arrived before the Besigye Team only to find that the Deputy Speaker Hon Oulanya Jacob was having a rally at our booked venue. He had mobilized his supporters and was physically present talking to a crowd. His parked convoy had one lead Police Vehicle and about 12 armed escorts and a number of “crime preventers” who seem stationed for a purpose at the venue Aketket Primary school ground.

When I arrived, as you may have seen on the NTV news footage on that day, I reached out to engage Hon Oulanya and his team on what was going on in our booked campaign venue. We chatted amicably as we always do in the corridors of parliament and he argued that his rally was prearranged before Besigye. He stated that there was no need for Besigye to interfere and in that case we should leave. I reminded him of our arrangement with the community leaders who agreed with me and we chatted on….

For a reason I am yet to know, many of his supporters started waving sticks and hoes, axes, stones at my team as time passed by. The situation quickly became tense and in the confusion his “security” manhandled me in a failed attempt to get me away. I am sad to note that my hair was pulled and I was physically assaulted which led the gallant youth on my campaign team to protect me from the rowdy melee. All this while, the fracas was being filmed by NTV and NBS news crew who were also present at the venue.

Atiak 23.12.15

Now, as the disturbance escalated, the attention of the rowdy NRM supporters was drawn to the TV crew and their news van which had been well documenting the situation all this while. Their anger was perhaps due to fear of exposure of their conduct. They attacked the crew and journalists were pelted with stones and great damage was caused to their equipment. Villagers started gathering from all over in large numbers despite the security deployment and over powered Hon Oulanya and his supporters. The deputy speaker quietly escaped from the site and his guards fizzled out one by one. This brawl lasted about 35 minutes!

Dr Besigye then later joined us at the venue and we had a clam campaign as scheduled later having a big rally in Gulu town that evening. We have reported the matter at Lalogi Police Station and a case of threatening violence, causing injury and damage has been opened against Hon Oulanya and his campaign team involved. Assault case SD REF:08/22/12/2015.

I later heard the Aswa Region police Spokesperson Jimmy Patrick Okema comment on Mega FM that “the action of the Deputy Speaker at Lalogi was provoked by Hon Betty Aol.” Of course they are trying to cover up the misuse of power and state security by Hon Jacob Olanya and we dismiss such a baseless statement due to lack of substance. We do have the footage of the entire fracas and our people are on the ground in the villages.

Also, you may be aware that the Electoral Commission had suspended ALL parliamentary campaigns and Hon Jacob Oulanya campaigning on that day was in violation of this Electoral Commission directive. His team was shamelessly and unlawfully breaching that directive. Only presidential campaigns were scheduled to go ahead at the time.

Friends, this campaign should not be a matter of Do or Die. People should not take the law into their hands and should respect the election schedule. The youth being used to break the law in the name of “crime preventers and security” will account individually and collectively. If may be they thought fear and intimidation would cow us in to giving up our rights, they are miscalculating big time. We have been in those trenches for a while now. Our team will continue to obey the law and we request other political players and the police to do the same. And intimidation will not get you votes we promise!

Our sincere apologies to the people of Lalogi who were affected by this unfortunate event and unnecessary attention. I have known people in Lalogi as some of the most calm people I have met in my decades of community work in Gulu district. Our biggest regrets to the NTV and NBS crew whose independent work was unduly interfered with and suffered physical attack and property damage. That is not how we do things in Gulu; We will all get justice.

We want to wish every body a happy festive season, let us celebrate in peace, let us refrain from violence in this campaign. Let us spare resources for the next year. Education of our young people should be our focus in the New year. Let us also remember to vote and maintain leaders who will keep our interests on the contentious issue of land and education, livelihood empowerment, social services and culture among others. I love you all very much.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New year. May God Bless you richly next year.

–Betty Aol Ocan, Gulu Woman MP 2016.

Amuru Land Grab: What is ours, is OURS; What is their’s, is OURS; and Whatever is your’s, is still OURS

YKM Amuru Land Deal

There has been a lot of news and articles on this matter because of the sensitive issue of owning land. Land can secure families and secure the heritage of the local people in the area. The issue is how to deal with wish of growing society and also keeping traditions. Also settling people in after years of war with the LRA and settle especially the ones that are seen as Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs). Another issue is if the government tries to deal with big monies and doesn’t include local patrons or community. That disfranchises the people and also grows a bigger distrust from the community about the government institution. That also shows the true color of especially some of that is, also the matter in the Amuru Land grabbing. I will not look into the local squats between families and also IDPs and local farmers stealing land from each other. That is equally important. But don’t have the space to write and find a good way to put it into this one. NRM-Regime has from day one been laisses faire economics and not governmental business orientated even if the President of 29 years was into communist thinking in the 70s. Also into business that gains the government, but not actually the public and citizens always. Therefore we have the heavy prices and expenditure of roads. The deals and arrangements hasn’t been made in sincerity of the public, therefore has also the MPs from the area in now bot the 8th Parliament and the 9th Parliament has reacted to deals that been set in fruition. The Madhvani deal is the big one and the one with the most flesh and grants. Also the Apaa village dispute over the land becoming a hunting ground instead of being a village for the people who actually live there. Then I will show other deals that have been questioned. This was the gist!

Professor Ogenga Latigo spoke his mind:
“While referring to the process of land acquisition for the project, Professor Ogenga Latigo, the former Member of Parliament for Agago county and Leader of Opposition in the 8th Parliament indicated that ―Government mishandled the Amuru case, while others informants argued: ―”The idea is not bad but the approach of establishing the sugarcane factory [was wrong, and besides the project] is imposed on the people, the project should be started when the people have returned to their land. The priority should be to give chance to the locals to resettle before establishment of the sugarcane factory” (Serwajja, 2012).

Basic information from 2005:
“Gulu district in her endeavor to alleviate poverty and promote development is committed to mainstream environmental concerns in its implementation strategies. The district continues to rely on the natural resources as important sources of income. It is been noted that over 82% of the population depend on agriculture and this can call for immediate up-date on status of the natural resources in the district” (Langoya & Ochora Odoch, 2005).

Land Law information about in Uganda:
“Tenure arrangement:
Until 1995, customary tenants did not legally own land they occupied. The land belonged to the State, and the tenants were merely permitted to live on it (Tenants at Sufferance). According to its preamble, the Decree was intended to provide for the vesting of title to all land in Uganda IN TRUST for the people of Uganda. The Constitution of 1995 vested land in the citizens of Uganda as opposed to land vested in the State, as was the case with the Crown Land and consequently Public Land.
Therefore:
• Customary tenants on Public Land were empowered to own land occupied.
• Three quarters of land in Gulu falls under customary tenancy hence Communal Land Management.
• The Land Act 1998 favoured the Acholi customary land holding e g. communal cultivation, communal grazing, and settlements” (Langoya & Ochora Odoch, 2005).

Important land law:
“Section 92 of Uganda’s Land Act (1998, Cap. 227) states that “a person who…makes a false declaration in any manner relating to land” or “willfully and without the consent of the owner occupies land belonging to another person”… “commits an offence.” Notably, however, the Penal Code Act does not mention land-related crime or theft, robbery, or grabbing of immovable property” (Northern Uganda Land Platform, P: 6, 2014).

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR), or ‘mediation’ as it is known, is not as technical, costly, or time-consuming as formal court processes, and aims to promote harmony among community members rather than naming a winner and a loser” (Northern Uganda Land Platform, P: 18, 2014).

“Migration characteristics:
Virtually, there are no refugee settlements in the district. However, large number of people in rural areas has moved to the forty six Internally Displaced Persons’ Camps and urban areas (RUM). It is noted that the Population in camps have risen from 291,000 people in 2001 to 438,765 people in 2004 and those in the urban centres from 38,297 people in 1991 to 113,144 people in 2002. Due to the same insurgency, there is also movement of people from Gulu district to the neighboring districts of Nebbi, Adjumani, Apac, Lira, Masindi and other Districts, not mentioned here” (Langoya & Ochora Odoch, 2005).

“Three criteria are found to be reliable indicators of bad faith. These reveal themselves as the ADR process unfolds, and include:” (…)”RIGHTS: Land rights of each party. These are determined by family ties, marital status, and transactions (gifts and sales)” (…)”INTENT: Parties’ demonstrated willingness to (not) respect these land rights. Usually evidenced by the presence of any “warning signs” and/or similar actions, body language, and statements” (…)”POWER: Parties’ perceived ability/opportunity to deprive opponent of land rights. This is context-specific, and may be assessed through probing” (Northern Uganda Land Platform, P: 7, 2014).

amuru-disctrict-shannon-tito

Some information on the Area Land Committee(ALC):
“A major point of breakdown apparently concerns the integrity of the Lands Administration itself. Although Area Land Committees are the “eyes and ears” of the District Land Board—thus vital to the process of land surveying and registration at the grassroots—these bodies remain under-facilitated, unsupervised, and unsurprisingly corrupt” (Northern Uganda Land Platform, P: 75, 2014).

Witnesses from the ALC:
”There’s no supervision of ALCs. So they go and do the work the way they want… because they’re human, sometimes they’re stubborn. On the basis of relationship… they can favor somebody. There may be a boundary dispute that was really not resolved – but in their report they say the dispute was ‘decided” (…)”“…a nightmare. The Kakira Sugar Works Limited overdemands money! Your file can be lost if you don’t pay them. I have to be very bold with these people, and tell applicants what really goes on. The corruption is highly coordinated, you can’t penetrate it. They look at you as if you are stupid if you don’t hand them extra money. I think the reason why no official fee structure exists has to do with the people behind private survey firms. If survey rates become fixed, then they lose business.” (…)”If I want to do something, you have the knowledge, I have the money. Money is very evil. However principled I am in my work, there’s some degree to which I will bend. All government offices are strained. No department says they have enough facilitation to do their work… We need to agitate, put it to the government that resources be looked at. Facilitating the ALCs alone will not solve the problem. Instead of centralizing the court, where people cannot afford travel costs (80-100km away), can we facilitate departments to do their work?” (Northern Uganda Land Platform, P: 75, 2014).

One set of background for Acholi land grab:
“To a number of locals in Northern Uganda, the issue of Customary Land Titles/ Certificates continues to evolve, and the rush to pilot this project has raised a number of questions and concerns about state involvement in land-related issues” (…)”In 1995, the Constitution of Uganda gave the right to own land to Ugandan citizens and any Ugandan could settle anywhere following due procedure. Following the passage of the 1995 Constitution the customary land tenure system was uplifted to the level of freehold tenure” (…)”As such, a clear definition and understanding of public land becomes imperative to securing access to land rights. One such example is the act of Amuru District Land Board allocating 40,000 hectares of land to Madhvani Group of Companies for sugar cane plantations. This allocation was made in the understanding that the land was public land. To community members this was a clear mismanagement by the land boards and manipulation of customary land rights by state institutions” (Otim, Ina & Cody, 2012)

“Lending credence to the perception of threat was highly public pressure from central government (including the President personally) for the opening up of Acholi land to investors, large-scale commercial farming, and other forms of ‘development’. From early 2007 this pressure was focused on giving land – originally 40,000 hectares, later reduced to 20,000 – in western most Amuru District to the Madhvani-owned Kakira Sugar Works Limited for a sugar cane plantation” (United Nation, 2013).

Main issues in Acholiland on land:
“Many Acholis oppose the project not only because Acholi cultural land is not to be sold, but also because many of the owners of that land are still in camps and, because of displacement due to war and the consequences, have not yet been able to return to their ancestral birthplace” (Kligerman, P:28, 2009). A World Bank report in July 2008 recommended a moratorium on land titles to investors in Acholiland until residents had residents had returned home from camps and people had been “sensitized” to land issues (Atkinson, R, 2008). The report also recommended that the government demonstrate its commitment to protecting natural resource rights (Atkinson, R, 2008); this is remarkable support for the Acholi people, particularly considering that the World Bank is one of major promoters of land privatization globally” (Kligerman, P: 29, 2009).

Insecurity when it comes to Land in Acholiland:
First one:
“Previous and on-going attempts by private individuals to acquire private interests in land which is perceived to be owned communally. Acholi leaders believe that Government is engaged in designs to help well placed and politically influential people from other parts of the country to access and enclose land in Acholi land. Common Property Resources are particularly targeted by individuals as well as government agencies” (Rugadya, P: 3, 2009).

Second one:
“Investor interest in the region; Pursuit of land access by large-scale commercial interests, speculators and grabbers was also causing tension particularly in the Acholi sub-region. The concern is that commercial agricultural interests will be cavalier in their treatment/understanding of land rights and land use issues. A number of highly publicized multiple attempts to acquire land in the sub-region presumably for investment and potential government development programmes, while some of these proposals may have been legitimate investment programmes to help re-establish peace and spur economic development activities in the region, the absence of a clear national policy and institutional framework for pursuing these initiatives has fueled the suspicion that “government” or investors as trying to usurp their land” (Rugadya, P: 4, 2009).

On Land Policy:
“Hostility towards government land policy is acute. MP Reagan Okumu asserts that there is a kind of ‘scramble’ for Northern Uganda, accompanied by a deliberate effort to deny Northern Uganda any development by scaring away investors. He says that because people in Northern Uganda are poor, whenever one flashes money around, they will sell their land at even low prices” (Otim & Mugisha, P:9, 2014).

Continuation on land and allocation of it:
“In Uganda, land is the single greatest resource for which a large majority of the population derives its livelihoods – because of the importance attached to land in all communities, conflicting interests in are unavoidable” (…)”Okoth-Ogendo describes land as a political resource which defines power relations between and among individuals, families and communities under established systems of governance” (Mabikke, P:6, 2011).

Allocation Part II:
“These land allocations dominate in the western area of Amuru district. These concessions have spurred major discussions on land grabbing in Acholi land. Central to these concerns has been highly public pressure from central government for opening up of Acholi land for “development” since early 2007 to allocate” (…)”land in Amuru district to the Madhvani Group for a large-scale sugar cane plantation. Reports from aggrieved Acholi Parliamentary Group (APG) – a group of Acholi parliamentarians accuse the GoU for assisting investors to grab land in northern Uganda. According to APG, the Central Government’s support for alienating land for commercial sugar cane farming in the north has been accompanied by powerful individuals gaining, or attempting to gain, private title to land that overwhelmingly belongs to communal landholding groups” (Mabikke, P:19-20, 2011).

Amuru

On IDPs and Returnees:
“Some returnees allege that the government grabbed large tracts of their land while they were in the IDP camps and offered these tracts to private investors. For example, in March 2008, the Madhvani Group submitted an application to the Amura District Land Board for 20,000 ha of land near to the Nile River for a sugarcane plantation. The local government approved the application with an initial allocation of 10,000 ha for a period of 49 years. Some of this land is claimed by returnees. In November 2008, several parliamentarians from the Acholi sub-region filed an application in the High Court in Gulu and obtained an ex-parte (temporary) injunction against the Madhvani Group, Amuru District Land Board and other respondents for interfering or encroaching on the disputed land. In ensuing court hearings, the Amuru District Land Board was forbidden from issuing new leases on the disputed land until the hearing and determination of the main suit. As of June 2010, the suit is still pending in the High Court” (Veit, 2010).

The Land Matrix database indicates that four large scale land deals amounting to 76,512 hectares were concluded in Uganda. In 1992, the government of Uganda signed an agreement with the Libyan government to allocate three large chunks of land, i.e. Bukaleba Beef Ranch (4,000 hectares), Aswa Ranch (46,000 hectares) and Maruzi Ranch (16, 376 hectares (Okello, 2006). Meanwhile, Egyptian government planned to establish grain farms on land totalling to 840,000 hectares (Kugelman and Levenstein, 2009) and Agri-SA holds about 170,000 hectares of arable land in Uganda (Mabikke, 2011). Similarly, the Ugandan government tried to allocate 7,100 hectares of land to the Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL) to produce more sugar although the civil society resisted the allocation through massive demonstrations and appealing to donors to block the proposal (NAPE and Friends of the Earth International, 2012)” (Serwajja, 2012).

First information on Sugar factory in Amuru district:
“Box 1. Madhvani Amuru sugar works proposal:
In 2006 news began to emerge of a planned sugar works to be built by the Madhvani Group on 40,000 hectares of land in Amuru district. The proposal envisaged a joint venture between the Amuru Sugar Works (owned by the Madhvani family) and the government, with a projected cost of US$80 million (Shs 162 billion) and included construction of a factory, a power generation plant, a water treatment plant and reservoir, workshops, stores, fuel stations and administration blocks, staff housing and amenities including hospital and educational facilities, etc.34 Amuru Sugar Works anticipated employing up to 7,200 people (25 foreign and the rest local) directly at the factory and some 5,000 on outgrowers’ farms, providing a livelihood to around 70,000 people in total. Five villages to accommodate 200 farmers each were to be built in the nucleus estate. In these villages, farmers would benefit from education and health services, while extension and credit services, agricultural equipment for land clearing, ploughing and furrowing, and a development fund would be used to support outgrowers. According to the proposal, 200km of road network would be built on both the nucleus estate and surrounding areas.5 Despite the proposed benefits of the project, a political storm over the proposal quickly grew, with the Acholi Parliamentary Group (APG), under the leadership of MP Hon Livingstone Okello-Okello, arguing that the investment should not proceed until all internally displaced persons (IDPs) had safely returned and that the required land of 40,000 hectares was too big to be given out for a single investor, since the population was growing fast and in the process of returning from camps.6 Madhvani Group representatives, accompanied by President Yoweri Museveni, visited the north at the end of 2007 in a bid to gain support for the project. Museveni asked the Acholi paramount chief, His Royal Highness Lawii Rwodi David Onen Acana II, to undertake a consultative process by setting up a committee to assess the land in question, research the sugar industry and gather community views. The proposal has subsequently been reduced to 20,000 hectares for the nucleus estate and 10,000 for outgrowers. In July 2008 newspapers reported that during a meeting organised by the APG, residents resolved unanimously not to give their land to any investors. Most recently, following dissatisfaction regarding the ruling of the Amuru Land Board in favour of the Madhvani Group, a group of residents from Amuru district, led by MP Hon Simon Oyet, secured a court order stopping any transactions on land in the district, with the deputy paramount chief of the Acholi, Rwot Otinga Otto, calling on clan leaders and cultural heads to resist giving land to Madhvani if they are not consulted, saying: ‘Just rise up against whoever gives away land without your consent’” (International Alert, 2009).

The background to deal:
“The first public indication of Madhvani’s interest in a sugar cane plantation in the ‘north’s central part’ of Uganda – that is, Acholi – came in a New Year’s Day New Vision Business article, ‘Madhvani to set up second sugar factory’ (1 January 2007) . By July, this interest had become specifically identified as a 40,000 hectare tract of land in Amuru District – see, for example, two New Vision articles from 30 July 2007, one from the Local North section, ‘Acholi MPs asked to support sugar factory’, the other an Opinion piece by Gulu District
Chairman, Norbert Mao, ‘Sugar is sweet but Acholi cannot afford a raw deal’. It is important to note that the land sought by Madhvani is situated in an area cleared of people by the colonial government almost a hundred years ago and made a game reserve. But evidence of various Acholi group’s historical claims to customary land in the area, and its continued use through most of the 20th century for hunting by groups with recognized customary rights is extensive. It is also worth noting that this is also a part of Amuru where preliminary research indicates possible oil reserves, and where Government has given out licenses for oil exploration – as confirmed in a letter dd. 4 September 2008 from Daudi Migereko, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, in response to a request for information on the matter by J.J. Okello-Okello, Chairman of the Acholi Parliamentary Group” (United Nation, 2013).

“The project entails acquisition of 40,000 hectares of land in perpetuity and at zero cost, implicitly the people of Lakang are meant to give away the land for development of the sugar industry. Half of the land, 20,000 hectares, will be used to establish a central business district (nucleus estate) of the factory that will entirely be under the management of the Madhvani Group and the remaining land will leased to the communities to grow sugarcane under the out-grower scheme. At the same time, the Madhvani Group will acquire a title deed to the land in question (40,000 hectares) in a quest to secure additional funding of about US$50 million from the African Development Bank” (Serwajja, 2012).

A review of the feasibility study report for proposed sugar project in Amuru district revealed that the area was preferred because of availability of permanent source of water which would provide water for irrigation and proposed factory. The proposed project is located about 6 kms is near the river Nile. Other suitable conditions for sugar cane growing identified included suitable topography with undulating plains, reliable rainfall of 1029 mm annually and fertile soils (sandy clay loam and loam) and availability of spear type of grass which is easy to clear (Madhivani Group March 2007). For the investors acquiring land from the UIA, they had to ensure that the land had no conflicts. For investors who acquired land from the UIA and DLBs, there are guidelines that prescribe all the processes for acquisition” (…)”In Amuru district, an investor had fenced off land cutting off adjustment villages from a health centre and a weekly market. Similarly, in the Kaweeri coffee plantation, the community complained about restrictions of movement through the plantation to access their villages. Since part of the process of land acquisition does not require understanding a gender analysis, its implications on women and men will not be understood and therefore such scales and effects will not inform planned actions“(Kanyesigye, P:13 & 15, 2014).

Amuruland

On the 11th December 2014 Attorney General Peter Nyombi wrote this in a letter:
“In a cabinet meeting presided over by H.E. the President, while briefing cabinet on the progress made so far by regarding the above project you informed cabinet that the survey of the project land would be done after the by-elections in Amuru District” (…)”Could you therefore have the land surveyed and the occupants of the same established and their property on the same recorded and valued so that the project can go ahead” (Nyombi, 2014).

Two other cases:
First case:
“According to the minister’s letter dated 7th January 2008, Major General Julius Oketa had applied to be issued with a certificate of title for approximately 10,000 hectares of land located in Amuru district for a sugar industry. The letter shows that there was no functional
Area Land Committees (ALC) in place which would inspect the land before issuing the title” (Mabikke, P: 20, 2011)

Second Case:
“A similar case of alleged land grabbing is cited in the petition presented to the Speaker of the Parliament, filed by Hon. Okello-Okello John Livingstone – chairman APG. Okello reported several attempts of land grabbing involving senior government officials in northern Uganda.
In 1992 the GoU signed a protocol with the Government of Libya giving away the following large chunks of land namely;
• Bukaleba Beef Ranch 4,000 hectares,
• Aswa Ranch 46,000 hectares
• Maruzi Ranch 16,376 hectares” (Mabikke, P:20, 2011).

A third case:
“The case of land in Apaa Village (Amuru District) illustrates the suspicions of local people concerning the acquisition of large tracts of land. In 2005, when people were still living in the camps, land was given to Bruce Martin from South Africa who was investing in game reserves for sports hunting. When resistance from the community intensified, it is claimed that the government changed tactics and asked the neighbouring district of Adjumani to contest ownership and claim that this land actually lies within Adjumani District. The Adjumani District authorities then passed a council resolution giving the land away to the ‘investor’. Some participants in this research argued that the boundaries between the two districts of Adjumani and Acholi are clear, and that some district politicians are manufacturing the boundary conflict. During an interview with the District Chairperson of Adjumani, he showed a map of the area in dispute claiming the area belongs to Adjumani District” (Otim & Mugisha, P: 8, 2014).

Fourth Case: 

Omoro County Suvey of Land

On the 9th of September of 2015 the police arrested the Amuru MP Hon Gilbert Olanya. Residents has reacted to buy of land and grabbing of Apaa village. The Villages and the MP was forced into the Police car even with the NTV camera crew in the place.

The TDA press release said this: “Three people are now confirmed dead by sources in Apa. Several people suffered grave injuries and are being treated at Amuru health centre. The Member of Parliament Gilbert Olanya was arrested and is believed to be detained in Masindi police station” (Minbane, 2015).

Afterthought:
I think I have said enough. If you’re not enlighten and gotten more clear information on the subject and the issue that these people are living through, then I am sure you should read more reports and dwell on the matter at hand. It is a sensitive matter that by my reckoning hasn’t been dealt in the best way. The arrangement and deals has been beneficiary for the government and state institutions, but not in favor of the demand in the districts. Also it has not put into an account what the local area needs or settlement of the IDPs after the long war in the war-torn area of the Northern Uganda. So many people are still in tents in the camps instead of building themselves into a stabile life. That is really growing prosperity and not just short and quick bucks with the sale of big areas located to foreign and not local merchants. Also fertile land is being sold to either facilitate a giant sugar-factory or as another big time deal to become hunting grounds instead of a place where the citizens can live and earn a livelihood. When this kind of actions happen from the government officials in Kampala and not directly with due diligence locally, then there will be frictions and anger towards the men who gave the businessmen the opportunity to occupy the lands. There are already as seen in many of the reports many smaller incidents between neighbors and family members to allocate lands in the Amuru and Adjumani district. Therefore this will be a sensitive issue that will not be over, especially not over until the next sunset. There will be many moons and even more hot air before a certainty is there. Especially when the Government overrules and sells the land without doing proper procedure and allocations, without checking the status of the area as it unfolds. They the government officials are just pocketing money quick and then send police to get rid of those who live there. At the same time having citizens in the camps as IDPs without a possibility to land and harvest, to find work to sustain them and live. That should have been the priority and not the businessmen from a far. Which is also the main reason why the locals reacts that strongly towards this land grabs and how they feel overrun and not listen to by the powers to be. In this case of the Government of Uganda and their LDC and certain ministries that have put the allocations into effect. An in this particular cases might put the quick monies before the additional and usually most important feature of any government institutions the people and the citizens before the contracts of selling the lands. Henceforth it’s understandable why people react and demonstrate when they feel wronged by the ones that supposed to serve you and secure security and care so you earn your livelihood. And that shouldn’t be too much to ask from the NRM-Regime, though it seems more likely that the big sums of monies matter more than the public reactions at this present time. Also that the continuation of disfranchising the northern districts of Uganda continues, especially with the Oil findings in Western/North Western Uganda – Bunyoro while Amuru and Adjumani will lose more to that area than even before. Peace.
Reference:
Kanyesigye, Juliet – ‘Hearing the other Voice: Investor perspectives on Protection of Women’s Land Rights in Large scale Land Acquisition in Uganda’, Submitted to the World Bank Conference 2014 on Land and Poverty 23-27th 2015, Washington D.C.

Kligerman, Nicole – ‘Alienation in Acholiland: War, Privatization and Land Displacement in Northern Uganda (2009)

Langoya & Ochora Odoch, Walter – Gulu District Local Government – ‘District State of Enviroment Report (2005) – Gulu, Uganda

Mabikke, Samuel B – ‘Escalating Land Grabbing In Post-conflict Regions of
Northern Uganda: A Need for Strengthening Good Land Governance in Acholi Region’ (08-11.04.2011) – Paper presented at the International Conference on Global Land Grabbing, University of Sussex

Minbane – ‘Press Release: TDA condems the violent and forceful eviction in Apa Uganda’ (08.09.2015) link: https://minbane.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/press-release-a-condemns-the-violent-and-forceful-eviction-in-apa-uganda-08-09-2015/

Northern Uganda Land Platform – ‘Power & Vulnerability in land Dispute Resolution – Evaluating Responses to Domestic Land Grabbing in Northern Uganda’ (Lira, May, 2014)

Nyombi, Peter – ADM/7/168/01 – ‘Re: Land for the Sugar Project in Amuru District’ to Hon. Daudi Migereko, Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Kampala

International Alert – ‘Contributing to a Peace Economy in Northern Uganda:
A Guide for Investors’ (06.2009)

Rugadya, Margaret A. – ‘UNVEILING GENDER, LAND AND PROPERTY RIGHTS IN
POST-CONFLICT NORTHERN UGANDA’ (November, 2008)

Serwajja, Eric – ‘The Quest for Development Through Dispossession: Examining Amuru Sugar Works in Lakang-Amuru District of Northern Uganda’ (17-19.10 2012) – Land Deal Politics Initiative (LDPI)

Otim, Denis Barnabas, Ina, Jahn & Cody, Emily – Refugee Law Project MUK – ‘Conflict Watch: “Land and Investment” – Balancing Local and Investor Interest’ (August 2012)

Otim, David & Mugisha, Police Charles – Saferworld: ‘Beyond the reach of the hoe: The struggle for land and minerals in Northern Uganda’ (April 2014)

United Nation – ‘LAND CONFLICT MONITORING and MAPPING TOOL for the Acholi Sub-region – Final Report March 2013’

Veit, Peter – ‘Focus on LAND in Africa – Breif: CONFLICT, DISPLACEMENT, AND LAND RIGHTS IN UGANDA: Uganda’ (December, 2010)