Famous for his outspokenness, Alhaj Abdul Nadduli a seasoned politician and a contemporary of Uganda’s president who is running for a term, if completed will see him having presided over the East African country for 40 years since 1986, has taken the current land reforms debate a notch higher.
As expected, Nadduli couldnt lie low, having witnessed his Kabaka (King of Buganda) Ronald Muwenda Mutebi while presiding over his 28th coronation anniversary at Nkoni Masaka Buddu, tersely talking about the touchy issue of mailo land reforms spearheaded by non other than the country’s head of state Tibuhaburwa.
Earlier, president Tibuhaburwa while presiding over a national state function at Kololo Kampala, had criticized mailo land tenure system branding it an “evil” system that requires systematic reforms. It is in this same line of debate that the Kabaka came out strongly to question the motives of whoever agitates for mailo land abolition. Land in Buganda, central region of Uganda is so dear an item as opposed to what it is in other parts of the country. Most probably because of this fact, since the famous 1900 Buganda agreement, any body who buys mailo land, buys it as a Kibanja and if he so wishes, can approach the registered proprietor for a subdivision into his names with a mailo land title.
Although this sounds a bit of a double edged transaction, it gives liberty to any registered owner to offer a sale with or without land title. If the registered seller opts for a sale without land title, then the buyer is obliged to pay the registered owner an annual fee locally called (Busuulu). Majority of land owners in Buganda are bibanja owners with liberty to do whatever they deem necessary without any encumbrance from the registered owner. This system became enforceable since 1928 until 1975 when the then President Idi Amin abolished mailo land and Busuulu payment in 1975. When Tibuhaburwa government made a new constitution that was promulgated in 1995, mailo land system was restored albeit pegging a very unreasonable busuulu fee of 1000 UGX per year. This blanket fee didn’t neither put into consideration the ruling market value of the land nor its location.
Basing on the gentleman’s agreement between Tibuhaburwa and a few notable Baganda, Tibuharwa agreed to launch a guerrilla war in Luweero with a promise to address fundamental anomalies that included
Restoration of of Buganda Kingdom
Restoration of Mailo land tenure system
Return and enthronement of his Majesty the Kabaka
Return all Buganda properties confiscated by Obote
It is because of this agreement that when the war seemed to stall, the reigning King of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi who was a prince at that time, was securely flown back purposely to mobilise his subjects to not only fight, but also give overwhelming support to the Tibuharwa led rebels. That is why the Kabaka recently reiterated that Buganda will never tire from demanding for what was agreed on. It should be noted that Buganda was a nation on its own prior to the amalgamation of different regions that formed the present day Uganda. Consequently Buganda had special privileges and status in 1962 that were quashed by ill-intentioned Milton Obote in 1966 when he abolished all kingdoms in unified Uganda. Nadduli argues that it is now 36 years down the road, but the Tibuhaburwa led government has never addressed the most fundamental Buganda issue of federal system form of government abolished by Obote in 1966. All Tibuhaburwa led government did was to return the Kabaka’s palace and Buganda’s Parliamentary buildings (Bulange) at Mengo. Most of the other Buganda properties, It was agreed that they would, in the meantime be rented by the central government for its local governance activities.
Mailo Land Tenure System: The Indefinite Ownership of Land
The Mailo Land Tenure System is where land is registered and owned in eternity or perpetuity with its holder having a land title for it. This land tenure in Uganda has its basis from the allocation of land pursuant to the 1900 Buganda Agreement, subject to legislative qualifications. Land in Uganda held under mailo tenure is mainly confined to the Central region of Uganda. The system confers freehold granted by the colonial government in exchange for political co-operation under the 1900 Buganda Agreement.
Essentially feudal in character, the mailo tenure system recognizes occupancy by tenants (locally known as Bibanja holders), whose relationship with their overlords or land lords is governed and guided by the provisions of the Land Act. Mailo land, like freehold is registered under the Registration of Titles Act. All transactions must therefore be entered in a register guaranteed by the state. Under this tenure, the holder of a mailo land title has absolute ownership of that land.
Mailo land tenure system also has features of freehold system. Here, land held under mailo tenure (about 9000 square miles) is confined to Buganda (central Uganda) and Bunyoro (western Uganda). The British colonialists allocated mile-square blocks of land to Baganda notables in exchange for political cooperation.
At present, there are no more new titles issued for land administered under Mailo tenure since all titles were issued before 1928. What is being done today is a mere further subdivision of the already existing titles issued prior to 1928 plus changing the names on the titles during to new ownership. Within the process of subdivision and that of transfer of ownership, both the applicant and the transferring land owner fill application forms with the zonal office of ministry of lands in their area. They then wait for the zonal office to accomplish the rest of the entire process.
Mailo Land tenure is mainly in Buganda, with some few portions of it parts of Ankole, Tooro sub-regions and Bunyoro among others. At present, there over 250,000 of Mailo Land title holders in Uganda courtesy of a majority having bought or inherited it.
Acquiring a Mailo Land Tenure Title
The process of acquiring a certificate of Mailo land title is done legally. Under Mailo Land, there are no new titles being offered but instead old titles are either being subdivided or transferred into the names of new owners.
In order to have a land title subdivided or transferred, one must get the plot and the block number of that particular land and present it to the Registry of Titles who will ratify that it is registered.
The buyer picks and fills applications form from the Land Commission and returns it to the commission. When filling forms, one must indicate clearly that it is either subdivision or transfer.
The same time, the owner from whom the land is being bough fills in a transfer form together with consent forms.
Subsequently the land survey is done and the ministry completes the course by filling and issuing a mutation form.
Getting the Land Title
When the process is done, the ministry offers you your title that is either segmented off an current one or an old title being fully changed into the new owners names.
Eligibility for the Mailo Land Title Status
Only Ugandan citizens are eligible for the mailo land tenure system. The rest of the property owners in Uganda should be under the leasehold Land Tenure System. The following people or institutions can offer a lease to any non-Ugandan to own land in Uganda:-
- An Individual Mailo land owner can offer a lease to a foreigner
- A local authority or government body is eligible to lease to a foreigner.
- Buganda Land Board (BLD), a body in charge of Kabaka land in Buganda can lease to foreigner or a Ugandan for a given period of time usually 49 years.
- For a company owned by foreigners can only own mailo land in Uganda if that firm is registered in with a Ugandan having a majority shares in it say 51% shares. And the foreigners holding 49% shares. These should be non-transferable shares for the mailo land status to remain considered.
Other Land Tenure Systems in Uganda
Besides mailoland tenure, there are other land tenure systems in Uganda which include freehold tenure, leasehold tenure and customary tenure system under which Ugandans or foriegners can own and use land in Uganda.