Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ask your Government Website Could Stamp Out Corruption in Uganda

By Esther Nakkazi

After a lot of walking and begging the officers at the Ministry of Lands, an older man who was trying to transfer his land title talked to me about his experience. He was frustrated. I am an interested party because I was trying to buy this land from him. But it was 6 months of appointments, time wasting and no results. I just wondered why such a simple act could take such a l-o-o-o-o-o-n-g time.

Well, finally the lands officer was out with the problem. There were no Mailo land papers to print the title on to. Really? For six months! I was pissed off. I talked to a friend and he said that was just what the lands office was, the officers in there are untouchable.

He told me the President of Uganda had once given free land to a group of people for development, when they went to process the title and transfer it, an officer named his price and told them if they did not want to pay it let them go ahead and inform the President, but they would never get it any way without him! They paid up.

I was baffled! The President! And who I am? Anyway, I attended this training by the ICT Policy Centre for Eastern and Southern Africa (CIPESA) http://www.cipesa.org    
It empowered us as journalists to ask the Government  just about anything. So when this conversation was on, I sent out a request to the concerned ministry, the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development. It was sent in November 19, 2014. 
It was basically about the frustration that there were no Mailo land papers to print on titles. If you read between the lines you know what that means! I got a reply ten days later on the 26th of November 2014. And I was just happy that someone had responded. All information officers working for Government agencies are supposed to respond to citizens' concerns. It is their job and soon it will be used to rate their efficiency at work. Here is the response to my request, it read:

Dear Esther Nakkazi,
It is not true that Mailo papers are unavailable! However, I need to know which office/Officer mis-informed you so that the Ministry takes the necessary action.

The land transaction costs are known and do not include anything such as 'payment for Mailo papers...'
I attach two informative documents that will assist provide you with the required information and confirm the fees paid for various land transactions.

Incase of any further concerns, do not hesitate to contact the Ministry on 0791 622 191 for assistance and clarification.

Your information request is deemed responded to by the Ministry, unless otherwise.

Dennis Obbo
ATI Implementation Focal Point

Mr Obbo also sent me these two documents; 
Lands Ministry Service Costs.pdf
Guide to clients At the Ministry and MZOs.pdf

I will one day send through the corrupt officer's name. But I think this is one way of fighting corruption and I intend to use this website to the maximum. I hope you can use it too. Fight Corruption in Uganda!

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