The fate of over 1,000 people that were two months ago evicted from Lusanja following a process Attorney General (AG) William Byaruhanga yesterday conceded to have been grossly flawed remains unclear after Parliament and Government disagreed over the most apt immediate remedy to give to the evictees.
Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda took the sting out of an emotive debate yesterday by cautioning the House against taking a decision on the matter premised on the heartrending plight of families enduring the elements instead of a report emanating from investigations by AG.
Earlier, lawmakers across a usually fractious political divide had rooted for a motion by Mathias Mpuuga (Masaka Municipality) to have the evictees compensated, their houses rebuilt and all government agents behind the “illegal” eviction prosecuted.
Rugunda’s plea which was opposed to the general groundswell in the House to have the evictees immediately compensated was in response to the status report on the plight of Lusanja evictees by Byaruhanga.
“I would propose that this matter be investigated by the AG within one week and he reports to this House for us to forge a rational way forward. Actions by Government should be based on investigations and not emotions,” Rugunda said.
But a terse Rebeca Kadaga, the House Speaker, asked Rugunda:
“Investigate what? These people were in their homes at night and agents of government destroyed their homes. Is there anything left to investigate?”
“The AG is the right person to answer that question,”Rugunda said in response.
Kadaga’s position seemed to be in sync with sentiments byMPs Robert Kyagulanyi (Kyadondo East), Patrick Nsamba (Kassanda County North),Medard Sseggona (Busiro East) and Elijah Okupa (Kasilo County) who were calling for compensation and rebuilding of evictees’ destroyed homes. In the interim,Rugunda directed amid murmurs of disapproval, that the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness to give “basic butessential relief items” to the evictees.
In his report, Byaruhanga told the House that there was no proper eviction order against Lusanja evictees and that the magistrate who handled the case from which the order arose was not vested with jurisdiction to handle the case.
Although he acceded to the gross flawed nature of the eviction, Byaruhanga told riled lawmakers baying for the blood of the magistrate of Nabweru Court, court registrar who sanctioned the eviction order,the bailiffs and the Police officers who oversaw the eviction that proper due processes had to be followed in bringing errant officers to book.
What followed was an animated and a tad emotive debate in which lawmakers decried what they labelled as the impunity by those wielding authority against the poor and voiceless sections of Ugandans.
As the lawmakers tangoed with Rugunda and Byaruhanga overthe issue, some of the evictees that were perched in the gallery keenly followed hoping for a quick solution to their plight. In the end, Kadaga directed that a sub-committee composed of former deputy AG Sam Bitangaro,Sseggona and Ssebunya refines Mpuuga’s motion for debate by the House this afternoon.
The issue of Lusanja has been a major news staple which has of late taken on political undertones. President Yoweri Museveni has since stopped further evictions of families from the land under contestation and relief items like tarpaulins distributed.