Land Matters Catherine Bamugemereire
Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire winds up business after 30 months. File Photo

The Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters chaired by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire winds up business after 30 months in service

The Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters set up by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on December 8, 2016, to investigate the effectiveness of the law, policies, processes of land acquisition, management and registration in the country is winding up its activities.

Chairperson of the Commission, Justice Catherine Bamugemereire says the Commission which has been in service for 30 months will wind up its activities on the 9 of November 2019.

Bamugemereire has been serving in the Commission together with a panel of seven-member. she says the Commission is not considering extending the tenure because at a moment they are concluding their work.

“What is being considered for extension time is time to write the report, before we hand over,” Bamugemereire said.

In May 2018, President Museveni granted an extension period of 18 months requested by the Commission to enable them to finish up with their work. So, 9, November will be the closing date for good work done by the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters in Uganda.

Within seven months’ period of service, statistics indicate that 7,799 complaints were received, out of the 2,700 were filed by people who faced eviction threats based on court orders. 3,400 complaints were referred for mediation and 110 complaints were tabled for public hearings.

“When the Commission commenced this task, we did not envisage that we would be required to address people’s disputes. We were, however, compelled to run clinics and encourage mediation which has registered outstanding outcomes,” Bamugemereire noted.

Among the cases the Commission resolved, Bamugemereire said include traders in Jinja and proprietor of Movit Products Simpson Birungi, disputes, where Birungi agreed to compensate the affected people.

Traders in the contested land had lost their businesses following the eviction and demolition of the commercial building they had used for years.

However, the Commission like any other faced challenges, and among them includes; inadequate funding which limited their investigations, because at times they failed to access the scene of the event.

Ebert Byenkya, lead Counsel to the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters said that they also at one point failed to take up all cases and chose to refer some of them for mediation.

Byenkya adds that about 3,000 complaints went unresolved, because of inadequate funding which failed their investigations.

“The funding was cut and affected investigations and it was not coming in time. We also had to cut down the staff. It affected our capacity to investigate land matters and in some instances, investigators encountered friction with people they were investigating, which affected the turnaround of cases,” Byenkya said.