Land should be owned by few Ugandans



1/11The thrust of my views on the land question in Uganda is that, in whatever manner it is resolved, the goal should be to make the country effect the transition from rain-fed, hoe-based, peasant-operated agriculture (if indeed it should be called agriculture) to modern, scientifically-managed commercial farming.  Any intervention in the land question must have its end state as revolutionising Uganda’s agriculture.  In my opinion, anything less that is subversive and an act of treason.

2/11Let me quote Mr. Kyijomanyi who wrote in his debate  on the UAH forum on land the following: “Both aspiring land barons and those with land should be treated the same.”.  Once again, my view is that a progressive government with an eye for the country’s future should do everything in its power to ensure that ownership of land is consolidated in as few hands as possible, to enable the transition in our mode of agriculture to take place.  Those already with land should not be saddled by legislation that entrenches squatters on their land.  It is for that very reason that, I hold that the 2007 land bill is a piece of treason.

3/11No legal, political, traditional or any other obstacles should be created for those I call “aspiring land barons”. If their intention is to consolidate land holdings and do away with fragmentation, they should be given as much support as they need and beyond.  Fragmentation of land is a barrier to the development of Uganda’s agriculture.  If Uganda does not develop her agriculture then the country is dead.  If we are to have a future as a nation, we have to turn our agriculture around.

4/11So, as far as I am concerned, everything is just in black and white: Either you are for consolidation of land ownership or you are for fragmentation of land ownership and entrenchment of microholders.  I am for the former, and I am opposed to the latter.  If you are for fragmentation, I treat you as the ultimate enemy of Uganda.

5/11Let us look at some of the issues Mr. Kyjomanyi raises in  the message to UAH:

1.  so-called land fund, for enabling squatters to buy themselves off:  This is treason.

2.  Land bill that entrenches squatters on land causes fragmented ownership.  That is treason.

3.  Microfinance, microcredit, microenterprise, microthis, microthat, microetc: That is treason

4.  Owners of large tracts of land with tenants that pay them rent (Kyijomanyi Doctrine): retrogressive, reactionary and inimical to the future of the country: Treason.

6/11Kyijomanyi asks:“Should the land fund fund tenants (not squatters) to a luxurious land style, from being tenants (squatters) to owners of 200 cares?” What exactly does this question mean?  What are “land fund tenants”?  What is a “luxurious land style”? Those are obscure phenomena….the trouble is that, you then go ahead and build secondary arguments basing on them.  Once again, Kyijomanyi directes certain questions at me that would make appear me to be a supporter or defender of the 2007 land bill:  “Do you see the inherent moral hazard nature in the land bill/land fund?” . As far as I am concerned, the inherent problems are more monumnetal that the so-called moral hazard.

7/11I thought moral hazard was a situation wherein, when someone is shielded against a certain risk, he starts behaving differently from how he would have behaved if he was exposed to the risk, e.g., smoking carelessly where there are jerrycans of petrol, because you know that there is a fire extinguisher.  How does that concept apply to Uganda’s agrarian question? (By the way, there are still questions you have not answered about the applicability of Akerlof’s lemons to issues of strategic transformation of Uganda)

8/11My point is, if a land lord has 200 acres of land, far from being encumbered with tenants and squatters, he should be facilitated in any way he chooses, to acquire even the adjoining 200 acres..  In other words, all kyijomanyi’s talk of land fund for tenants should be off from the books.  If at all there is a land fund, it should be given to the big landowner, to ease the squatters off the land.  Land fund should be given as abribe to squatters to leave land that they are squatting on.  Not every Tom, Dick and Harry; not every Musoke, Mukasa and Kiwanuka; not every Baluku, Kambere and Masereka; not every Okello, Otim and Otto should be a land owner.

9/11There should be no question of giving “land fund” to peasants, squatters, microholders.  That simply exacerbates the problem of fragmentation.  Fragmentation is the antithesis of modernisation of agriculture.  Backward agriculture is Uganda’s grave.  Whoever encourages fragmentation is Uganda’s grave digger.  Whoever arrogates himself the role of being Uganda’s grave digger has to be resisted.

10/11Kyijomanyi says: “I know what land rents mean. Rent is not mere land rent but the receipts of what is grown on that land. I defined rent broadly.”: That is very funny.  Rentism as an approach to Uganda’s agrarian question is subversive.  Feudal lords fleecing tithes and scuttage and surplus from serfs? I would make you choke on that rent of yours….treacherous, reactionary, mediaeval mentality in an era of producing for a global market.  Disabuse yourself of that thinking.  I hope that is not DP policy.

11/11Kyijomanyi says: “No, unlike you and NRMO, I see a situation where bibanja holders and land owners emerge winners. There is a win-win situation but it cannot be in the form of free lunch for one party.”:  What does he mean here?  We should not be looking for winners or losers.  This is not a matatu game or football match.  The question is whether Uganda will survive or not.  Finally we should not look at landownership as an end in itself.  It has to be a means to increased national productivity.  If the land owner is not a producer then he should be put to task…

Lance Corporal (Rtd) Otto Patrick

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