Hon. Babirye Milly Babalanda, Minister for Presidency, has asked Mr. Gulume Richard, Busoga Regional Whip, to work with the Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) and Resident City Commissioners (RCCs) to develop mobilization strategies to address the region’s poverty and poor service delivery. Mr. Gulume is also the RDC for Jinja.
“I will closely monitor your activities, and I will soon convene a meeting of Busoga leaders and RDCs to audit service delivery in Busoga,” Hon. Babalanda remarked.
The Minister made the statements on 12/06/2023 at the conclusion of a two-day capacity-building workshop for RDCs/RCCs, deputies, and DISOs from the Busoga Sub-region, which was held at the Source of the Nile Hotel in Jinja City.
According to her, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) has identified Busoga as one of the country’s poorest sub-regions.
“I don’t expect you to sleep on your jobs with such findings. This issue can be addressed by mobilization, sensitization, and the advocacy of government anti-poverty initiatives. Mr. Gulume Richard, the Regional Whip, should engage the RDCs on a regular basis and remind them of the battle and their duties in it,” she said.
“You must be aware of all monies received in the district/city; how many groups of beneficiaries have received or have not received; and what issues relate to delays, obstructions, or inconsistencies in the performance of government programs such as the Parish Development Model (PDM).”
The Minister also instructed the commissioners to increase their efforts in supervising the execution of the government’s flagship programs, PDM and Emyooga, in the sub-region, which are aimed at assisting Ugandans in fighting poverty and improving household incomes.
“H.E. the President’s views on PDM, which he issued recently while in Masaka, will be implemented throughout the country. You have been asked to read the President’s letter on PDM.”
Hon. Babalanda also stated that she will camp in Busoga for one week (19-23 June 2023) with the PDM Secretariat to ensure that the people receive the money before the end of the fiscal year on June 30th, 2023.
“It would be tragic if this money was returned due to our inability to absorb it.”
The Minister also directed the commissioners to be on the lookout for any land grabbing criminal actions in the sub-region, fully investigating them and directly reporting to the Principal Judge or the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) or the Minister for Lands to brief them on what is going on.
She recommended them to do so, especially in straightforward emergencies that require urgent response.
“Such reports should always be copied in to the Minister and the Secretary Office of the President,” stated Hon. Babalanda.
The Minister highlighted that the sub-region’s rampant and violent land grabbing had resulted in the loss of lives.
She claimed that land grabbers are collaborating with unscrupulous Lands Officials and Area Land Committee Members, taking advantage of people’ ignorance and powerlessness to place titles on their land and take it.
“The RDCs should deal with these land grabbers by enforcing the presidential directive issued on February 28, 2022, which addresses the issue comprehensively. These land grabbers are also using the Courts to buy time and even compromise some Judicial Officers in order to evict the victims,” Hon. Babalanda claimed.
She also informed the commissioners that she had been aware that the Land Board in Jinja is renewing leases for Custodian Board properties with forged documents and generating new titles against existing titles, which she described as criminal and unacceptable.
Hon. Babalanda also stated that Gen. Henry Isoke, Senior Presidential Advisor on Corruption and Head of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit, will shortly begin extensive investigations into the incident.
She also praised Mr. Ali Shafiq, RDC of Nansana Municipality, for fighting land grabbers who had encroached on Kawanda Agricultural Research Institute land on his own. The event took place over the weekend.
He departed the site after quietly razing the unlawful constructions. This is the only way we can defend public lands. Anyone who transacted in this land will have to bear his or her own cross. “The State House Anti-Corruption Unit will also conduct thorough investigations into allegations that a government official conspired with land grabbers to encroach on government land,” she said.
“You are thus urged to follow Mr. Shafiq’s lead in protecting public lands. In simple circumstances where you are certain of your goal, you are urged to act peacefully as long as you do not endanger members of the public.”
Hon. Babalanda also asked the Commissioners to properly handle the resources at their disposal, as well as to monitor and supervise government projects, claiming that if they do so, corruption will be reduced.
“The more money we lose at the hands of corrupt officials, the more we limit our transformation,” she said.
Hon. Babalanda revealed that she is writing to the State House Anti-Corruption Unit and the Inspector General of Government (IGG) to investigate why contractors have abandoned unfinished government projects in Busoga districts, partly due to corruption and laziness, and why the government continues to lose so much money through such corrupt tendencies.
“The RDCs are tasked with inspecting the government projects completed by these contractors. As a result, I sincerely request that you take the subject of combatting corruption extremely seriously so that we can preserve resources for service delivery.”
Hon. Babalanda also urged the commissioners to continue educating the public about the hazards of trespassing on wetlands.
“H.E. the President will be touring Busoga soon, and this is one of the issues that will be discussed,” she stated.
The Minister, on the other hand, informed the RDCs that the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is still active in the area and has cells in Mayuge, Bugiri, Buyende, and Kamuli.
“The problem of the machete-wielding men (Bijambiya) has returned to Jinja. I am relieved that the RPC-commanded police are on the ground in this case. He has already met with the Bugembe people on multiple occasions. However, I’ve heard that some LC 1 Chairpersons are opposed to the gatherings. An LC 1 chairperson cannot oppose a security meeting unless he is a criminal himself. Police should record statements from chairpersons and leaders who are opposed to the operations,” she said.
During the same session, the State Minister for Lands, Hon. Sam Mayanja, reminded the RDCs that they are the persons the President has entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring land tenure security.
“You should put an end to evictions, protect the evicted, and return them to their homes.”Everyone participating in evictions is arrested. I’m surprised it takes me so long to get everything done,” Hon. Mayanja said.
“As long as there are constitutional provisions, there should be no eviction order. Those court orders are unconstitutional since security occupation is a privilege that all bona fide and legitimate occupants have. We can arrest the mailo owner who comes to evict a kibanja holder because he is disturbing their peace by trespassing. We can even charge him with malicious damage if he ruins the kibanja holder’s property,” he added.
The Minister also urged RDCs to educate Ugandans on the necessity of land titling.
“The bottom line is that every Ugandan needs tenure security by titling their land. The Central region is the richest in Uganda because it is titled, though I disagree with them on Mailo land,” Hon. Mayanja stated.
“The importance of titling land is critical. Some people claim they don’t want to title their land because it will lead to land theft problems as in Buganda, but I promise you that you cannot avoid titling because it is the only way to go. Land with a title is valuable. You need at the very least obtain a certificate of customary ownership.”
Minister Mayanja stated that Uganda’s most recent computerized land tenure information system is the greatest in the world, and that the government had generated USD300 million from it since its inception.
“With this system, I can now sit at our headquarters and monitor land issues in various parts of the country. President Museveni should be thanked for this mechanism that ensures our tenure.”
Former Minister of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development Hon. Daudi Migereko, for his part, advised the commissioners to maintain peace and security, noting that the two elements are critical when it comes to coordination or mobilization.
“We didn’t fare well in the last general election in Busoga. That is why we need to increase our mobilization throughout the subregion. You are expected to be aware of how each town is performing or is expected to perform. “Once you have this, you will be able to solve problems because one of your roles is coordination,” Hon. Migereko explained.
“There can be no activity in the area or country if there is no peace and security. You have been appointed by the President to oversee peace and security in your districts, and if there are any issues, you will be held accountable. You must collaborate with security and the general public. As the head of security, you must protect the peace and security of your area,” he continued.
The Chairperson of the Uganda Tourism Board also urged the Commissioners to collaborate with security officers and the general public in their respective jurisdictions. He stated that if they do this, information would be communicated immediately and the problems affecting the area will be resolved in a timely manner.
“RDCs, you are the people that can assist us. We must use your offices to ensure that we address the issue of peace and tranquillity,” Hon. Migereko stated.
“Mobilisation will only succeed if two fundamental challenges are addressed. They include safety and sources of income. That is true mobilization. How do we handle this? We must take use of the NRM structure while remaining disciplined. When you are a leader, you must ensure that you set a positive example in your field.”
Mr. Willis Bashaasha, Director of Manifesto Implementation in the President’s Office, highlighted that the Parish Development Model is a do-or-die initiative that the RDCs must ensure succeeds at all costs.
“The PDM is the final mile for us to ensure that we transition Ugandans from subsistence to money economy.” Mr. Bashasha stated, “We want to see our people achieve middle-income status.”
“The Emyooga and PDM issues give them priority. They are very important government agendas. We should be able to display anything about them by 2026. We are not prepared to see any failure in these programs,” he added.
He also emphasized the necessity of maintaining security in the country, stating that it is a basis of Uganda’s growth and that they are quite proud of their performance in that area.
“The issue of security is also critical, and since you are the heads of security in your respective areas of jurisdiction, make sure that security is maintained,” Mr. Bashasha said.
Mr. Robert Ali Bogere, the Assistant Administrator General, urged the commissioners to use extreme caution while dealing with property and succession concerns.
“The most common way to obtain land in Uganda is through succession, and once you have dealt with succession matters, you will realize that they are the worst cases you have dealt with; worse than divorce,” Mr. Bogere stated.
He stated that the RDCs must be impartial and should not take sides when resolving succession cases since the parties will lose trust in them and will accuse the commissioners of taking a bribe by the end of the day.
“You should not participate in the distribution of the deceased’s property. The first thing you must do as RDC is to not handle the situation as it has arisen. “First and foremost, you should always determine whether the deceased left a will because it will guide you in the next steps,” Mr. Bogere advised.
Ms. Ritah Namuwenge, the Emyooga National Coordinator, asked the RDCs to collaborate with the Emyooga team to fulfill the initiative’s goals.
According to Ms. Namuwenge, the ultimate goal of the Emyooga program is to promote households’ socioeconomic transition from subsistence to the money economy and market-oriented output.
“It’s also meant to stabilize and mobilize beneficiaries’ savings for long-term financial services,” Ms. Namuwenge explained.
Meanwhile, the Regional Capacity Building Workshops for RDCs/RCCs, deputies, and DISOs are intended to remind commissioners and DISOs of their fundamental responsibility of oversight, monitoring, mobilization, and effective representation of the Central Government and His Excellency the President.
The workshops also aim to refocus commissioners and DISOs on critical and prioritized government programs and projects that they should lead in order to achieve set objectives and ultimate goals, as well as to provide them with more appropriate skills and tools to improve their operations in their respective districts and cities.
The sessions are also intended to assist commissioners in sharing with their supervisors the problems affecting their field operations.