In a message contained in a circular to the chairperson of Uganda Land Commission (ULC) and all chairpersons of district and city land boards, dated February 2, 2022, Mayanja stated these boards also purport to automatically re-enter running leases on public land.
"The ministry has noted with concern the practice by the ULC and district land boards of irregularly reallocating expired leases and/or purporting to automatically reenter running leases on public land, thereby unjustly depriving citizens of their land," said Mayanja.
He noted that Article 237 (3) of the Constitution 1995 recognises leasehold as distinct land tenure, alongside customary, freehold and Mailo tenure systems. "The incidents of the leasehold tenure are spelt out under section 3(5) of the Land Act Cap 227, which provides that leasehold is created either by contract or operation of law on specific terms and conditions under which a lessor (landlord) grants a lessee (tenant) exclusive possession of land for usually a defined period and usually in return for a premium and ground rent," he said.
As such, he said once a lease has been granted to a person, that lease becomes the property of that person as a tenancy and subject to the rights indicated in the 1995 Constitution and the Land Act Cap 227. Mayanja said leases granted by ULC out of the government land or leases granted by district land boards out of former public land (statutory leases by former controlling authorities abolished by the 1995 Constitution) are regarded as public leases.
It is imperative that the Uganda Land Commission, the district and city land boards follow the guidelines on the administration of land under the Land Act, Cap 227,"he said. Some of these guidelines are: in exercising the powers of a lessor the district land board shall not automatically re-enter a lessee's land; renewal and extension of leases on initial and full terms for all citizens shall be automatic and in the case of non-citizens, they shall be eligible to renew.
Mayanja directed these boards to strictly comply with all the guidelines when handling leases, especially those held by citizens because these are constitutional rights of the citizens. "Any purported automatic re-entry of a lease shall not be registered (noted on the titles register) nor will such a re-entry be recognised by the Ministry as affecting any existing rights of the owner of a lease,"said Mayanja.