Kabale district and Kabale University are in the midst of a struggle for a 98 acre piece of land. The district had promised to donate the land to the university once it went public. However, now the district has invited tenants to use the land for farming.
Fresh wrangles have erupted between Kabale University and Kabale district local government over the decision by Kabale University to chase away over 100 tenants on 98 acres of land at Kikungiri hill.
Kabale district donated 50 acres of land to the University including buildings which used to house the headquarters of Ndorwa constituency in 2003. The district promised to give the remaining 98 acres of land to the university if it was declared a public university by the government.
The 98 acres of land remained unutilized until early February 2013 when Kabale district council resolved to divide the land into plots and invite tenants to do farming. Kabale district argued that this was aimed at earning more income for the district.
However, university management is unhappy with the district decision and has moved to protect it from what they term as land grabbers. The university has since started chasing away the tenants.
The university also involved the Minister of State for Economic Monitoring Henry Banyenzaki who also doubles as one of the University’s promoters in the matter.
Banyenzaki has gone ahead to order police to arrest the locals who have rented the plots of land.
Banyenzaki says that the land belongs to the University saying that he will not allow land grabbers to take over the land.
In a letter dated 27th of April 2013, addressed to the Minister of Internal Affairs Minister of Local Government, Banyenzaki says that the move by the district authorities to give out the land to local farmers is aimed at undermining the presidential directive to turn Kabale University into a public university.
In the same letter the minister is instructs the Kabale district Police commander to stop anybody from accessing the land and to also arrest those behind leasing the plots of land.
Kabale University public relations officer Judith Atukunda says that the University expects the tenants to quit the land immediately since the University plans to utilize the land.
She says that they decided to forward the matter to the Minister after they tried to engage the leadership of Kabale district to reach a compromise unsuccessfully.
But Kabale district chairperson Patrick Besigye Keihwa says that the minister is behaving like a village chief by just rushing to write unnecessary letters in matters which he is not well versed.
The chairperson says that there is nobody who is grabbing the land and that the district passed a council resolution in relation to the developments going on at the land which he says is in good hands.
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Keihwa says that the University should rather first put to good use the 50 acres of land that was donated to them instead of trying to grab more land which will later be left idle or to benefit few individuals at the expense of other people in the district.
Keiwha says that the Minister should stop misleading the people because the university is yet to be made a public institution. He says that even if the government were to declare Kabale University a public university, there would still be a number of modalities to be worked out before the land is given out to ensure that the mother district also benefits from the project.
The chairperson urges the Minister should stop politicking as the district retains the land title. He reveals that the district authorities are now getting 120,000= shillings from each plot of land instead of the land being idle.
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Kabale district Police commander Bosco Arop says that he cannot just rush to effect the order of stopping locals from accessing their gardens before he gets a clear background of the land dispute.