District boss quizzed over Kyankwanzi land

Kyankwanzi District Land Board secretray, Deogratius Kasumba Muthayi has told Justice Catherine Bamugemereire’s Judicial Commission of Inquiry into land matters that businessman Andrew Tendo was irregularly leased a chunk of land covering three villages in Kyankwanzi district.

Tendo acquired a 44year lease extension on land measuring 777 hectares on Singo Block 812 Plot No 25 in Kyankwanzi district on April 1, 2001 following the expiry of the initial five-year lease offer over the same land.

The five-year-lease offer expired in 1997, and on March 19, 2001, Tendo applied to the Kyankwanzi district land board for an extension of the lease offer which was granted two weeks later but dating backwards to April 1, 1997.

The land under contention covers three villages of Mbogo Bbiri, Kasambya and Bugondi with over 300 residents.

Appearing before the commission on Friday, Kasumba said that at the time of the transactions, he was not the office holder since he assumed the office in September 2017.

Kasumba told the commission that the then Kyankwanzi district Land Board acted in error to give Tendo an extension of a lease offer that had expired.

This was after the commission’s deputy lead counsel John Bosco Suuza told him that an extension of contract can only be acquired before the contract expires or otherwise, one can only get a new contract.

“There is something you need to learn here Mr. Kasumba, as a civil servant; if there is a contract that has a fixed period of performance, if you want to renew it, you must star t the process before it actually expires. Once it expires, then you cannot extend it, it’s dead,” said Suuza.

Kasumba was called to the commission following testimonies from the some of the affected locals who accuse Tendo of evicting them from the land.

One of the witnesses, Ronald Lutakome told the commission on Thursday that in April 2005, Tendo, using a one Kaitambogo who is a resident of a nearby village Lukwiri came with Simon Muhinda and over 45 police officers and attempted to evict the occupants under a pretext that President Yoweri Museveni had given them permission to occupy the land.

The residents resisted and for 10 years, Tendo disappeared until 2015 when he resurfaced with an introductory letter from the Bukwiri village LC 1 chairman James Ssenkungu, asking his Mbogo Bbiri counterpart to let Tendo to graze his cattle on Simon Muhinda and Kaitambogo’s farms.

Lutakome however told the commission that the two neither owned land nor farms in that village. Residents decided to open up a case at Kampala High Court suing Muhinda and others.

Lutakome told the commission that the plaintiffs skipped court on two occasions which collapsed the case.

On August 17, 2017, Kaitambogo however went to them with documents indicating that Tendo had acquired 3 square miles on Plot 25 Singo Block 812 Mpongo River Butimba Sub county Kyankwanzi District.

Tendo also presented an order from the Ministry of Lands granting him permission to occupy the land.