In whose names is the State House land registered?

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Dr Kizza Besigye, Bobi Wine and others who have interest in taking over State House better establish in whose names the certificate of title is.

Empirical hypothesis: years in the bush, fighting bad regimes does things to people. They emerge when they are so hungry, they grab everything within sight; with the passion of monkeys unleashed upon an undefended market stall that stocks yellow bananas.

I found myself in Entebbe recently. Doctor’s orders. He was of the considered view that to augment my recuperation, I needed to rest and relax, away, Far From the Madding Crowd (no disrespect intended to Mr Thomas Hardy, the revered author of a novel by that title).

There aren’t many places left around Kampala that are quiet and green; that is how I ended up in Uganda’s version of the Garden of Eden, the Botanical Gardens.

I spent all day lying on my back in soft grass, under lovely trees; generally asleep, but with one eye open and two ears alert, wary of any sleek, smooth crawling movement of a sly serpent which, since I am no woman, surely wouldn’t be coming to tempt me with an apple.

Towards evening a thought struck me: How long will it be before we wake up and find that the Botanical Gardens have been taken by one of the “liberators”?

My mind went back to the parliamentary inquiry into the acquisition of Njeru Stock Farm, near Jinja – a 1000-plus acre affair that hosted a demonstration farm, a breeding centre and a research outfit. After all the theory in class, teachers would ship students to the farm to appreciate science practically.

And as kids, we learnt a lot from visiting the farm – everything taught in class would crystallise into many “ah-hah!” moments (for the village schools, something like “eeh, wamma!” or “mpozzi!”) punctuated with heads nodding in understanding.

But that was back then, in the days of those very bad and useless presidents Idi Amin and Milton Obote who, President Museveni unfailingly tells us, turned Uganda into a failed State. In their days, Uganda had several such farms, all over the country. Our British colonial masters had a wonderful strategic blueprint for Uganda’s development.

All we had to do after independence was build on it and we’d be a very strong, prosperous nation. The useless presidents – Amin and Obote – respected these facilities and never touched them. They understood what it meant for government to hold wealth in trust for citizens, what theory cats call “The Public Trust Doctrine”.

But it was Things Fall Apart (thou wast a great man, Chinua Achebe!) when the more educated, enlightened, progressive and patriotic Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) took power in 1986.

So we woke up a couple of years ago, only to be told that Njeru Stock Farm, at least most of it, is owned by individuals – historicals of NRM and friends of the President. Soldiers had even been sent to destroy government facilities and take possession of the land.
Readers of this column in far off places around the world, often tell me I should quit this column and focus on writing fiction – since that is what I do here every Sunday.

With tales like these, you cannot blame them. They will not believe me either, when I point out that our beloved Nakivubo Stadium is no more – its extensive grounds are now a private shopping arcade complex – and the sports arena has a long, winding tale to it. Jesus will return and the Pope will preach using the Koran before it’s ever rebuilt.

As we retire into our beds every night to enjoy the sleep that the bushmen brought us in 1986, they themselves don’t sleep at all. They caucus to find out what public facility is yet to be taken…and who should have it.
In fact, politicians like Dr Kizza Besigye, Bobi Wine and others who have interest in taking over State House better establish in whose names the certificate of title is.

After all the appetites we have witnessed, there is a good chance they are wrongfully trying to push a man out of a property that, under our current land law, is properly theirs; because their name, as we enjoyed our sleep, was firmly endorsed on the certificate of title.

Mr Tegulle is an advocate of the High Court of Uganda.

gtegulle@gmail.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor Newspaper. Columns.

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