By Isaac Mutema
Junior lands minister, Dr Sam Mayanja singles out religious institutions as one of the country’s top most notorious land grabbers.
But such a dubious prize! Yet the Bible itself condemns land grabbing.
The Good Book refers to land grabbing as landmarks lifting. Forget about the difference in wording, the two are the same.
Such condemnation is embedded right there within the pages of the Good Book.
Ideally speaking, one would expect religious institutions to stay aloof from land grabbing.
But, alas, as Dr Mayanja, a self-professed Born Again Christian himself divulges, the foregoing mentality isn’t entirely true itself.
Indeed, we have exclusively chanced upon one living example that, in a way, vindicates Dr Mayanja’s opening assertions about religious institutions.
A disturbing example is in respect of Ddwaaniro Anglican Church. The same is located in Rakai in the South Western part of the country.
For the record, this church falls under the West Buganda Diocese superintendent by Bishop Katumba Tamale.
The Rakai church, as per exclusive info in our possession, received a gift of land from one Mesach Lubega Serubega.
This occurred within the opening months of the year 1980.
The relatively rich man, going by the prevailing standards within Ddwaaniro locality at the time, Serubega curved the land out of his kibanja (an untitled piece of land).
The gift was a tiny piece of land. It equalled about 100 feet by 50 feet. It is upon that land where the pioneer Church would be raised out of mud and wattle.
Fast forward to the present times, the Anglican Church stands scandalously accused of, grabbing the burial grounds of the man who gifted it with the land it sits on.
That’s not all. The surviving family of the deceased Lubega, also faults the church leadership for falsely imprisoning the heir of the generous elder identified as Serubega.
The imprisonment, as per the widow, Sylvia Nakawombe, saw her husband tortured into passing and vomiting blood.
This, in turn, Nakawombe asserts, culminated in Serubega’s eventual premature death.
St Bruno Sserunkuma Catholic Church, located just within the locality, has a bone too to pick with the counterpart Anglican Church.
The said church’s leadership faults their Anglican Church counterparts for ‘deceitfully’ processing a Title trespassing into its land.
According to these assertions, the Title was issued in the morning hours at 9.47 am on April 13, 2012. It’s in the names of the Registered Trustees of the Church of Uganda (Ddwaaniro).
It is alleged by dozens of this land grabbing, that the leadership of the Anglican Church has been using this ‘dubious’ Title to extend into people’s land before selling them off.
Apart from grabbing the people’s bibanja, the area Anglican Church is also on the spot for seizing public playgrounds in the area as well as public roads.
The Catholic Church leadership wrote to the Bishop of Kako Diocese, Rt Rev Katumba as latest as April 24 this year to remind him of the Anglican Church’s numerous undertakings to ‘return what is not yours.’
In the same vein, the widow of the heir of Mesach, wrote too on the same date to ask Bishop Katumba to return the kibanja holding the burial grounds of her father-in-law ‘ plus her garden.
She says the burial grounds were sealed off by the Anglican Church and made part of its land.
“Every time I have asked the Anglican Church leadership to return the properties wrongly seized, they have been threatening me to keep quiet or else suffer the same fate as my departed husband,” the widow writes.
Now that her kibanja was seized by the Anglican Church leadership, she agonizes, she has been staying at people’s homes and begging for what to eat plus the children left behind by the deceased husband.
Charles Zziwa is another victim of the alleged land grabbing. This gentleman has seen and witnessed it all regarding this whole sad affair.
This fairly old man was born in the locality. He went on to serve as its Local Council One Chairman and later as a Local Council Two chairperson as well.
He would, after several years, scale the ladders to serve as the Ddwaaniro now Buyamba Sub-County Local Council Three Chairperson.
Zziwa is angry with the Anglican Church because he claims, its leadership grabbed the kibanja his father bequeathed on him plus one bought using his own money in 1980.
“Look, those people sold my properties without my knowledge whatsoever. Yet I was the Local Council One Chairman at the time of the purported transactions,” Zziwa snaps.
He adds that he as well lost several commercial properties in the same fraudulent manner as did many other residents.
For fighting vigorously and questioning the said grabbing of people’s properties, Zziwa agonizes; he has been turned into a target of intimidation and threats to his own life.
Consequently, he adds, ” I am no longer stepping into the locality save under camouflage”, he offers.
Revealing how he has lost count of the times he has written to the Anglican Diocese in Masaka and later Kako, seeking g for redress, Zziwa reveals that he as lately as April 26 this year wrote again to the sitting Bishop of Kazo, Rt Rev Katumba still begging him to do the needful.
Even so, the dejected man hastens to mourn how he doesn’t expect any good news from the Diocesan chief all the same.
“It is going to arrive as a miracle if the Bishop intervenes on the side of the suffering souls in Ddwaaniro”, he rests his case.
Next time we shall return, we shall be interrogating the Title purportedly acquired by the Anglican Church of Ddwaaniro.
We shall also look at the several steps that have been taken by progressive leaders in the area to address the sad episode.
Most importantly, we are exploring the steps which the State House has been taking to put this whole sad affair to bed.
Until then, keep visiting this website and take care.