The move by the Uganda's government to evict over 500 tenants of Naguru Housing Estate and sell it to private developers is a way of relegating the less privileged Ugandans to squatters in their own country. The estates are mostly occupied by former government employees, some of whom were retrenched years ago or retired and are awaiting their pension.
While the president on political grounds (the quest for future votes) promised this land to the tenants, The Minister for Local Government Kahinda Otafire is out to sell the land to private investors. The Minister and the Inspector General of Government have also turned this matter into a battlefield to sort out their personal vendetta, an issue, which is totally irrelevant to the victims in this situation. Dirty Politics and development do not mix, if true growth should be realized.
The rightful owner of this property is not known. It’s difficult to tell whether this land belongs to Kampala City Council, National Housing and Construction Company or any other company. This casts doubts on how this land was allocated to its current owner. Our government is notorious for using back doors in giving away property for public utility. The sales are not advertised and properties are rarely bided for.
The tenants are former government employees who have lived for a long time.They should be given a chance to make financial contributions to develop and own this property. They deserve first priority before considering a lease to a private investor. If this government should steer the entire country towards prosperity, the population should be engaged in this course. It’s hypocritical for government to say its encouraging development when it does not allow all sections of the population to participate.
It will be disastrous if the government takes this matter lightly. It’s obvious that the tenants, who are already angered by the government approach, will not take this matter lying down. If this land was meant for government employees, why doesn’t the government develop this land for them? If they are pensioners, why can’t the government pay their pension so as to acquire property?
If the government considers relocating them, it should be after a mutual negotiation and agreement. The proposed buyers should be in a position to either present an alternative property for the tenants or consider compensating the tenants, so that they can either buy or seek alternative accommodation.
By Judy Auma
Miss Auma is an African Executive Staff Writer based in Uganda
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