Museveni attacks media, opposition over land bill

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Museveni speaking on Vision FM in Mbarara town

President Yoweri Museveni has called upon radio stations to contribute to the development of the country by providing Ugandans with the right information.

President Museveni who was accompanied by the Minister of Minister of ICT and National Guidance Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister for Housing Chris Baryomunsi and the Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana was speaking at Vision FM radio station in Mbarara Municipality where he addressed the nation on land matters and other national issues.

The President said that instead of informing Ugandans about government projects and how the country stands to benefit from the projects, the media and the opposition politicians are spreading falsehoods about the proposed amendment to the land law.

“I have come to tell you that government is not trying to steal people’s land. We want to change the law for public interest. We need to construct roads, the railway and electricity. When we make the road to Lyantonde or the Bypass here in Mbarara town, Museveni does not have any shares in it. It is for everyone’s benefit,” he said.

The President said that it was the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government that legislated to give Ugandans land ownership in the 1995 constitution and therefore the same government cannot be the one to take away from Ugandans the right to own land as the media and the opposition politicians are telling Ugandans.

“Long ago, land used to belong to the Omugabe (King) and during colonial period it used to belong to the queen. When we made the constitution we changed the clause that said, “land belongs to government” to “land belongs to the people,” he said.

Mr. Museveni explained that the proposed amendment to the land law does not aim at grabbing land from Ugandans but is rather meant to ease government acquisition of land for infrastructure development such as the railway, roads and electricity.

“For government to acquire someone’s land, the owner must be compensated and that government was also coming up with more avenues for discontented landowners to appeal in order to receive fair compensation,” he said.

President Museveni said that landowners who reject government compensation and want more money compared to what their property was valued at also challenge government as this in turn delays contractors hired to do government projects as the cost of things such as cement keeps going up.

The President also faulted government bureaucrats who have access to government contracts and know where the projects will be constructed and thus go to those areas to acquire land so that they can benefit from the compensation.

President Museveni said that if the 68% of the Ugandan population that is in subsistence farming is to join the monetary economy; government has to build roads, the railway and electricity so that more employment opportunities are created.

He said it was a shame that the opposition politicians that are against the construction of factories are at the same time the ones complaining that the youth are unemployed.

“In Amuru, there are leaders fighting the sugar factories and at the same time they are the people saying they do not have jobs,” he said.

President Museveni therefore called upon the media to educate Ugandans about the amendment of the land law and the need for Ugandans to protect their environment.

He said instead of wasting time abusing and spreading falsehoods they should teach Ugandans how they stand to benefit from government projects and about the dangers of swamp reclamation and land fragmentation.

The President also cautioned the public against encroaching government land and warned those that have planted eucalyptus trees in the swamps to remove them before the National Environment Management Authority does so.