Limitations of the law on the certificate of customary ownership under the Land Act, 1998: A case study of Bukonzo County, Kasese District
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Customary land tenure ownership in Uganda is characterized by extensive local land rights that are increasingly coming under threat from other land interests, notably elite interests seeking to gain access to land and foreign investors. In some districts, such as Kasese, there have been rush for land, with local rights frequently ignored or at best overlooked, resulting into land grabbing/conflicts, evictions and loss of lives. The Land Act, Cap.227, ideally provides a mechanism to avoid this, by providing, inter alia, that customary land owners may acquire certificates. Acquiring a certificate under customary tenure reduces the danger of unlawful appropriation associated with rapidly increasing land values, land grabbing/conflict, and evictions among others. Unfortunately, many customary land owners have not accessed/acquired those certificates and hence have been victims of the situation. This study, therefore, aimed at examining the limitations of the law on acquiring customary certificates. The study also aimed at establishing the non legal factors that have made it impossible to acquire customary certificates under the Land Act. Further, it sought to explore government processes and verify the primacy of government choices and actions in ordering the legal and non-legal factors that are directly associated with malfunctions in the reform policy of acquiring customary certificates. The study reviewed and analyzed provisions of the law (Land Act, 1998) on a acquisition of the customary certificates, theoretical foundations of certificate of customary ownerships, the process of getting a certificate of customary ownership, role of traditional institutions in issuance of certificates and the gaps in the law and policy. The study findings indicate that absence of functional institutions, legal and non-legal factors, financial constraints, poverty and ignorance are the major limitations affecting customary certificates. The study recommended inter alia, that government should issue free customary certificates to all customary land owners, carry mass sensitization, and allocate adequate funds to the land sector.