Lawyer Male Mabirizi has filed a petition with the Constitutional Court, requesting a temporary injunction to halt activities involving the Kabaka (King) of the Buganda Kingdom, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, and his agents.
These activities include mass registration of settlers and the collection of ground rent (Busuulu Collections).
The petition names the Attorney General of Uganda as one of the respondents. Mabirizi argues that these activities are scheduled to commence on October 1, 2023, with a focus on settlers on official mailo land registered in their names.
In his application, Mabirizi requests the court to prevent Kabaka and his agencies, including the Buganda Land Board and Enkuluze (Royal Treasury), from engaging in activities that portray them as the registered owners of official mailo land.
Specifically, he seeks to stop the imposition of registration fees, threats against individuals residing on Mailo land, and the collection of a 10 percent charge of the sale value of land or Kibanja on the official Mailo land.
He also aims to halt the collection of money from non-lease Buganda people in the area and any support provided by government agencies, including ministries, police, courts, UPDF, KCCA, and local governments, to Kabaka for these activities.
Mabirizi’s argument is grounded in his contention that the Kabaka serves as a trustee of the official Mailo land, and therefore, any charges related to it are unlawful.
Despite a pending petition he filed in 2022 challenging Kabaka’s actions, such as presenting himself as the registered owner of official Mailo land and government support for such claims, he alleges that the respondents have continued their activities and have announced mass settler registration and ground rent collection starting the next month.
Mabirizi asserts that if the court does not grant his application, there is a looming risk that the respondents will proceed with these exercises, potentially causing irreparable harm.
This is not the first time Mabirizi has sought to halt ground rent collections.
In 2020, his application to stop these collections was denied by Supreme Court Judge Dr. Esther Kisakye, and in 2017, a High Court decision by Patricia Basaza, ordering the Kabaka to provide certain information, was overturned by the Court of Appeal panels led by Justice Egonda Ntende.
Mabirizi has now filed a similar case in the Constitutional Court, awaiting a determination.