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The Chapter focuses on the various land disputes either arising out of the type of land tenure or domestic relations down to the disputes that could arise from government actions
In our daily transactions with land, many disputes often arise as to: who owns the land; the rights one has concerning the land; the distinction between occupation and ownership of land; how one can protect his/her use of land; and many others. Today’s land problems in Uganda have been shaped by various aspects of history and vary depending on the different land tenure systems.
It is worth noting that under customary land tenure, land is not registered. Due to this, a number of problems arise as there is no conclusive evidence of ownership. These problems include the following;
The common dispute here is the conflicting interests between the lessor and the lessee. Quite often the lessee is interested in extension of the lease which may not be in the interests of the lessor. This causes a lot of conflict between the two parties since they want different things. For instance, still using the example of Okello and Mulindwa, since Okello will have built a house on the land, he will want to renew his land for a longer period of time. But Mulindwa will not want to renew this lease because he will want to take the house and the land.
The main problem attached to this tenure system is that a person who obtains a land title through fraud are rarely challenged in courts of law.
Though preferred by many, it is also coupled with a number of problems which include the following:
Many of the disputes and conflicts regarding land often arise in the family setting and include:
Land grabbing is a commonplace problem. There have been in recent times several complaints of land grabbing and arbitrary massive land evictions across the country. Some of the recent cases include:
Evictions in Kalangala District where people were mercilessly evicted by investor palm oil companies like BIDCO.
Land conflicts also arise in times of war, and disaster for instance the case of LRA in northern Uganda and Bududa landslide where people were displaced and resettlements are met with resistance
The government is lawfully empowered to compulsorily acquire someone’s land. However this can only be done after the government has adequately compensated the land owner. Therefore, a dispute usually arises as to when government attempts to carryout such developments before fully compensating the land owner. However it should be noted that a proposal by government has been made to the effect that such compensations should be made after government has acquired the land. If such a law is passed then there will no longer be a requirement to make adequate compensation before taking someone’s land.
In Uganda, it is a common practice for people especially investors to acquire land from the poor in a fraudulent manner. This is usually in a way that the less advantaged are forced into transactions they do not fully understand and it is through such shady transactions that they are lured into passing on their property. For instance in Osokoru, Tororo district government awarded a mining lease to a Chinese Company to mine phosphates. The occupants of the area signed a lease agreement for 99 years as opposed to the 21 years they thought they were signing which left them landless.
There is widespread perception that the powerful and wealthy community members take precedence over ownership and boundaries in order to grab land. This land grabbing issue is a global problem that has been criticized by several parties and on many occasions. For instance in the Tirana Declaration 2011*** which denounces all forms of land grabbing whether international or national. It also denounces all the local land grabs particularly by powerful local elites within in communities or among family members.