By Mukembo Wilfred
Local leaders have petitioned President Museveni to prevail over Makerere University and halt an impending eviction of more than 50,000 people from their bibanjas (plots) in Katanga, near Wandegeya in Kawempe Division.
In the September 11 petition signed by Busia and Kimwanyi Zone leaders led by Kawempe Division Councilor for Wandegeya Ward, Mr Thomas Bagonza they have accused Makerere University administration of using extra judicial means to evict them from their bibanjas.
It is alleged that in the intended eviction, Makerere University seeks to destroy buildings and livelihoods of residents without following the due process of the law yet they have been paying property rates to Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).
“I wish to draw your attention to the fact that the entire Katanga valley has got structures such as student’s hostels, churches, washing bays, restaurants, shops and all sorts of businesses. We are appealing to you to urgently intervene in the matter as the livelihoods of over 50,000 residents are at stake,” reads the petition.
They allege that Makerere University has on many occasions’ resorted unlawful means of evicting the residents of Katanga valley from their bibanjas in total disregard of the court decisions and orders.
In 2015, the High Court ruled that the Katanga Valley land was occupied by four family members and their licensees who are now bonafide occupants whose rights are well protected under the laws governing ownership of land.
The four family members are Jonathan Yosamu Masembe, Bulasio Buyisi, George Kalimu and Samalie Nambogga. They were battling with Makerere University and the Commissioner for Land registration over cancellation of their Land titles and ownership of the land by Makerere University.
However, Makerere University has since appealed against the decision faulting the High Court in a matter pending hearing and determination before the Appeal Court.
On August 11, Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe invited the leaders and concerned stakeholders on the disputed land inviting them to update them about the university’s planned developments.
According to the letter, Makerere University acquired the land on Block 38 commonly referred to as Lower Katanga and that it was reserved for ‘future developments in line with our motto of building for the future.’
“The university is now ready to embark on some development activities on her land in lower Katanga. I have no doubt that that you will be interested in developments at the university,” reads part of the letter addressed to the LC I chairman, Lower Katanga, the chairman Land guardians on Makerere land and the LC3 councilor for representing Wandegeya parish at the division.
In the complaint to the president, the leaders allege that in total disregard of the court orders and processes, the university asked the KCCA deputy executive director to cause removal of structures of residents and stop any further developments on plots 45 and 47 at lower Katanga.
“The said plots do not exist in Katanga Valley and there is no area known as lower Katanga,” reads the petition.
The petition shows that the university move seeks to target individual among them Pastor Daniel Walugembe of Eternal Life Gospel Church who are perceived as stumbling block to their nefarious acts.
The petition was also copied to the State House head of legal matters and the State House director on legal matters.
Early this month, Lord Mayor Erias Lukwgo asked the City technical wing to halt the impending evictions to stave off the undesired catastrophic consequences.
Mr Lukwago warned that it will be a glaring breach of law for the physical planning directorate and the building control board to issue demolition orders and approve plans submitted by Makerere University before the Court of Appeal pronounces itself on the matter.
“I am utterly at the way KCCA management team gets embroiled in matters involving flouting of court orders,” wrote Mr Lukwago adding; “Makerere University can pursue their appeal and convince the justices to overturn the High Court judgement.