I have read in the New Vision of, Friday, 16th August 2013, a story titled,”Nantaba and General Kayihura lock horns over Kayunga land” and I was, also, informed of utterances that the Hon Nantaba made on a Bukedde TV programme “Agataliko Nfufu”. (I was out of the country so I did not watch the programme myself.)
This is not the first time Hon Nantaba has made outbursts against me, and the Uganda Police in respect of land conflicts. However, being disciplined we have, hitherto, restrained ourselves to respond directly, through the media, to her false accusations, opting instead to channel our grievances to appropriate authorities. However, as it is becoming a pattern, and as the falsehoods could be believed if not countered (a prominent and effective propagandist in wartime Europe in the 1940s said that if you tell a lie repeatedly it becomes the truth), we have this time decided to respond.
To begin with, I find it wrong that an Hon Minister of government should choose to use the media to address whatever problems she has with the Inspector General of Police and the Uganda Police. Instead of going to the media to speculate and utter falsehoods, based on misinformation, she could have easily established whether my current work in Kayunga is an assignment to me by H.E. the President or not. Instead of the media smear campaign against me, if am involved in any wrong doing as she claims, surely the Hon Nantaba knows the disciplinary authorities, and channels of Government to bring me and the Police to book!! I don’t want to believe (as I could be tempted to do) that Hon Nantaba has some sinister agenda targeting me as a person.
To put the record straight, as I publicly stated in all the public meetings I held in Kayunga district, I am on assignment by H.E. the President to carry out specific tasks. My first task was to deliverthe message of H.E. the President to both the landlords, and tenants that they should tell the truth in respect of their allegations against each other; as well as claims and counterclaims of ownership/interests in the different farms/lands under investigation by the committee of Hon Nantaba. Evidently, this is after H.E. the President discovered through sample on spot investigation that both the landlords and the tenants were not being exactly truthful either to the Committee of Hon Nantaba or, even, directly to himself. I carried out that task of delivering the message of H.E. the President, although it was unpalatable to some.
My second task is to investigate all the allegations, and whoever is not telling the truth is held criminally liable. I have reinforced the team of detectives who, incidentally, have been in Kayunga district, for some time, investigating earlier complaints to the President, by both landlords and tenants, when he last visited the district. I have put the team under the new Commandant of the Land Protection Police Unit (LPPU), Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Fred Enanga. They have expanded their scope of investigation in light of the fresh Presidential assignment, and the investigation is proceeding well.
My third task is to ensure law and order, given that the President was getting reports, for example that cattle on one farm had been cut, and there was general tension. Indeed, there were incidents of cutting of cattle, as well as a violent attack on a manager of a farm. Incidentally, before the President visited Kayunga, there were cases of houses being set on fire, and cattle and other animals being cut. These incidents were telecast on different TV stations, and they should be available for anybody interested. I have no reason to disbelieve the findings of the Committee of Hon Nantaba (by the way on which Police is represented, initially by Commissioner of Police (CP) Kototyo, and now ACP Fred Enanga) that injustices were committed by landlords on the tenants. However, the remedy must be through the due process of law and NOT through lawlessness and anarchy.
In fact, my first disagreement with the Hon Nantaba was when she ordered that the Police should, forcibly, take out cattle and other animals from two farms under dispute to give way to allocations pieces of land to bibanja claimants, and that the cattle should be herded in a cattle market in Bbaale, Galilaya, Kayunga district. On different occasions, when I learnt of it, I opposed that decision (which, by the way, our representative on the committee, CP Kototyo, should have opposed) because of two reasons. One, it was a wrong procedure in law because, legally, the respective owners of the animals were still the titled owners of the farms/lands.
In my judgment, the proper procedure should have been the following
· first cancel the title, and therefore dispossess the landlord of ownership, and order him/her to give vacant possession to government
· second, give him reasonable notice and time for him to remove his property, including the animals, in an orderly way, which would be witnessed by the Police and
· third, subsequently, give possession of the land to whoever was considered by the committee to be the rightful owners.
Two, the Police was being compelled to take on a responsibility which we were not able to carry out: herding and looking after the cattle. We did not have capacity (financial and technical) to look after the animals, even that could have been the correct thing to do, which, of course it was not. Moreover, we would be taking on responsibility, under law,for the animals, and should be prepared to compensate the owners in the event that the animals died or were stolen. Indeed, Hon Nantaba knows the position of the President on this matter, and should stop using me as a scapegoat.
In fact, to avoid the risk of government taking on undue responsibility, and even legal claims, with the guidance of H.E. the President, where there are such disputes, a temporary arrangement has been put in place whereby both landlords and tenants can, temporarily remain on the respective lands (coexist), but separated by barbed wire, which the landlord must put in place, each side engaging in their activities without interference or conflict. This is to ensure that there is law and order, as both sides await the final verdict of H.E. the President.
Clearly, this is my mission and assignment, which in any event is consistent with the duties mandated to the Uganda Police by the Constitution of Uganda, and I believe that is the reason the President assigned me the tasks as Head of Police.
In spite of this, however, Hon Nantaba in her outburst accused me of siding with landlords in Kayunga to “illegally” evict peasants from their land. She alleges that my intervention is to undermine her efforts, threatening to resign on my account. She even insinuates that I have personal interests in the land conflicts in Kayunga.
To the contrary, as I have explained above, our work is mutually supportive. Rather than consider me a liability, Hon Nantaba should consider the work that we are doing to be supportive and reinforcement of her work. In all my public statements in Kayunga, I was careful to underline that. Unlike her, my statements are respectful to her and a recognition of the good work she is doing. In fact, even in the instances where the committee has made mistakes, I told the public that it was the responsibility of the Police for not advising Hon Nantaba properly. However, personally, in my short and direct interaction with Hon Nantaba I have given candid advice and made appropriate interventions to uphold the law. If she found my advice wrong she should have engaged me or involved others in the matter but NOT to conduct a smear campaign on radios, and TVs to malign and tarnish based on lies.
I want to state, categorically, that in all my decisions/actions in respect of land conflicts in Kayunga and for that matter anywhere else, am not partisan, and/or personal, in favour of the landlords and against peasants or bibanja holders. Am as indignant (if not more) indignant against injustices irrespective of who is the victim, and I have a demonstrated record to prove it. I have never had, (and I have not intention of acquiring) even a single acre of land in Kayunga district. It is, indeed, malicious and evil for anyone, later on, a leader, to spread such malicious falsehoods.
Having said that, however, as Inspector General of Police, and, indeed as the Uganda Police, we shall continue the work of ensuring that there is law and order in the country, and that the rule of the law in Uganda prevails.
Otherwise, I have not locked horns with Hon Nantaba as suggested by the New Vision, and in spite of her attacks. I want to assure Hon Nantaba that I, personally, and the Uganda Police in general support her in her fight to redress past wrongs, if that is her agenda. But am afraid, in doing so, it is incumbent on us to ensure that whatever is done is within the law. That is the minimum. Hooliganism cannot be the response to redressing wrongs committed by hooliganism. The response must be to assert the authority of the law.
Gen Kale Kayihura
Inspector General of Police