Over 50,000 artisanal miners operating in Mubende district were ordered to vacate the gold miners within a period of two hours on Friday 04/08/2017.
This operation to evict all the artisanal gold miners in Mubende district is was led by Col Balikuddembe Lutaaya commander 1st division in Uganda People’s Defence forces.
The miners were told to leave the mining sites in Kitumbi and Bukuya sub counties but were not given ample time to rescue their mining equipment.
A troop of Uganda peoples defence forces and Uganda police forces totaling 750 people, 4 tear gas vehicles and tanks were stationed in the gold mining sites in Kitumbi and Bukuya sub counties forcing the gold miners and other people operating business with this location to pack their belongings to leave the mines.
Mr Sempowo Robert the chairman Mubende artisanal miners explained that they has been woken up by the sound of lorries moving into the mines that were packed with Uganda peoples defence forces soldiers and Uganda police forces officers who ordered them to vacate the premises within two hours and by midday no single person was to be found in the mines.
Sempowo added, “Currently most of the miners in this area are packing up their belonging to leave the premises ,others have abandoned their property for lack of money especially the heavy machinery while other are selling the property at a giveaway price so that they can live this place before it’s too late.”
“Government is not fair, because there was no official communication to neither the leaders or to the gold miner to vacte the gold mines , we have been relying on rumours and hear say, its a shock to us all our efforts have been shattered one investor. ”Sempowo expressed.
Ivan Male Kawuma, the Project Coordinator Singo Artisanal Small Scale Miners Association said that “we are being treated like non Ugandans, how can we become like refugees in our own country. There is no communication, no compensation for the money invested in our business running in the gold mines. This has been our main source of livelihood and we don’t know what we are going to do next.”
His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni the president of Uganda in his letter addressed to the hon. members of parliament Mubende district dated 28/June/2017 made it clear that;” those artisanal miners who invaded where the investor had excavations must straight away get out.
The evictions folowed the presidential directive to evict all the artisanal miners in Mubende district on grounds that the people in the mines are not registered, government doesn’t know the amount of gold they are getting out from this area, the people operating in this area are not Ugandans and increased environmental degradation which is a threat to the nearby communities.
However the permanent secretary under ministry of energy and mineral development Dr.Stephen. R. Sabalija in the letter dated 02/08/2017 entitled Statement on illegal mining activities in Uganda explains that government is putting in place intervention measures whereby all the local artisans will be registered in all mining areas of Kitumbi and Bukuya sub counties so that they can be organized into groups that shall ultimately be regulated.
This intervention is anticipated to take 3 months and will subsequently help the ministry of Energy and Mineral development to re-organise mining activities supported by Uganda police force, Uganda people’s defence forces, Directorate of citizenship and immigration control under the Ministry of Internal Affairs and will be led by Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.
On 21st June, the three prime ministers from Ker Kwaro Acholi, Alur Kingdom and Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom launched Guidelines to equip cultural leaders in their institutions in managing their relationship with the oil and gas companies as productively as possible.
The guidelines reflect the three cultural institutions’ determination to play an active role in preserving tangible and intangible cultural heritage, in ensuring sustainable development and in fostering peace amongst communities.
Oil in Uganda’s Robert Mwesigye talked to the Executive Director Cross Cultural Foundation Uganda, Emily Drani, on the milestone the Foundation has made and their expectations following the landmark event of the launch of the guidelines by cultural institutions for oil and gas companies operating in Uganda’s Albertine region.
What have been your major achievements 10 years down the road?
Our achievements over the ten years especially with regards to what we are doing right now is that we have come to understand the relevance and role of cultural institutions; we have taken into account some of their strengths but as well as their weaknesses as we have worked with them especially those willing to address those weaknesses through capacity building, documenting and reflection events. We have documented statements that they have made linked to the citizens manifesto.
In that statement they have highlighted their responsibility but also the demands they are making from the Uganda government and development partners. But they have also made commitments in respect to what role they play today. Of course the role of cultural leaders has evolved today. What they did 50 years ago is not what they are doing today. And one of their roles is protection of the natural resources. There are about twenty two points and this is just one of the points where they said we have a role to protect the environment because of its cultural significance, not its economic value. And so the question is what shows and how can you guide other cultural leaders who have just become leaders today about that responsibility. So today is actually about the responsibility they have taken because we’ve worked with many cultural leaders across the country and they might have responsibility but it’s not documented. It sounds very general and something that is very hypothetical so this is a practical way that they have committed on paper that they are responsible for a number of issues that they are going to take on that responsibility.
Uganda right now is abuzz with extractives development for which cultural institutions have been advocating to have major participation. Do you feel government is responding or is there need to do more?
I think there is much more that needs to be done to harness the influence and authority that cultural institutions have. There has been often a thin line between their authority as institutions and then their political authority. And therefore they have always been treading very carefully. So when it’s a purely development agenda they are very outgoing and very forward. But when there’s a very thin line as to whether they’re now overstepping that line you find they’re not very assertive. So much as the laws of energy and use of natural resources have been taking place they have not asserted themselves to say yes, we are key actors in all this and we need to be consulted and we need government to recognize that the resources were talking about also have cultural significance and that’s where we come in, because in the past of course they were managing those resources for economic benefit and now they are told that is something beyond their mandate; they are supposed to focus on culture. But even then they can still make a case for land; they can still make a case for natural resources where there’s traditional medicine, there’re secret sites which fall directly under their mandate but they’re not very forthcoming. Government has taken advantage of that and actually not consulted them; but also for government to consult you need to demand and be acknowledged that this is a place where you can make a contribution.
How would you rate the level of responsiveness by oil exploration companies to the call to conserve cultural sites/ heritage while carrying out their activities?
I think there are a couple that have been quite forthcoming because I know Bunyoro kingdom received funding from think Tullow ( Tullow funded Bunyoro Kingdom to the tune of 1000USD to facilitate construction of a museum that never was. This was meant to enhance the protection of cultural Heritage visa viz oil and gas operations ). They gave them a significant amount of money to build a cultural centre and that was without too much lobbying. They felt that was there corporate social responsibility. But I’m not sure about the others. I have not heard because we’ve done some reviews on the relationship between cultural institutions and these oil companies where they have just gone out of their way to (i) recognize culture matters (ii) to give some incentives to the communities to preserve their culture but (iii) also to find out if they can be guided where there’s a space of cultural significance and if there is any way they can avoid that. That on record has not been very strong. You might want to dig deeper on how a number of sites have been desecrated.
The cultural institutions are more concerned about oil & gas; have they considered other extractives? Because we’ve been to Moroto, the situation there is not so rosy.
No. I think the oil has brought to the fore that there’s significant benefit that can accrue to the community. But in other areas; for instance, there’s marble in Moroto but the council of elders there is very small. We know there’s salt extraction, there are different minerals being extracted from different places. I think some of the cultural institutions think that is a government preserve. And especially where there is a bit of contention over ownership as you have seen Bunyoro clashing over the forest with the National Forest Authority. So that I think has made a number of them not to be very forceful in their demand not only to be consulted but to benefit.
The level of awareness and agitation for inclusivity in the extractives sector in Uganda by cultural institutions is quite prominent in the Bunyoro region. Do you feel that resonates elsewhere in mineral host communities?
For us as an organisation usually respond to need. Of course we have different communities where there are different resources; it could be a forest; it could be a natural resource of another nature, mineral or something. But if the cultural institution itself has not seen that need, we are not going to go there and say you need a role in this. They need to say traditionally we have been responsible and now we’re being left out. Then we can partner because they have their traditional mandate but it’s not our job to go and start instigating that responsibility and interest.
An MP at a workshop said there was a resurgence of ethno-nationalism where cultural institutions are agitating for priority in sharing on what is a national resource. What is your view?
Well CCFU tries to learn from other countries. And learning from other countries we actually invited cultural leaders from Ghana where there is gold. And in Ghana fortunately for them the government recognizes cultural institutions. They are actually part of the legislation. But they have royalties there and I think that helps to diffuse some of the conflicts that you might have with the government and I think they do have a case because the land is part of what you should call Bunyoro Kingdom. So we don’t see any problem with Bunyoro kingdom demanding to have a percentage of the royalties. It’s maybe what it’s going to be used for or whether the community is going to benefit. That’s a question to be answered. But the principle that they should receive royalties is a valid one. Absolutely!
Going forward after today’s dialogue what are your expectations?
What we are hoping to see is that some of the three cultural institutions that are here pick up on some of the guidelines and operationalise them. It’s difficult for them because they always have challenges with resources but they are things that can be done practically without finances. And they can have negotiation with oil companies and say this is what our desire is and it’s standard now which has been set so we expect them to use it and for those who have not had an opportunity to develop guidelines we hope they’ll be able to borrow some of the principles in there. When they are dealing with investors, people in the extractives industry they’ll say yes, please could you adhere to some of these principles because it’s about the preservation of our heritage.
“We are in shock that the President can approve the eviction without him coming down to hear our side of the story” says Mr Ivan Kauma Male, a project coordinator of the Singo Artisanal and Small scale miners Association (SASMA).
Mr Male, a Makerere University graduate in Electrical Engineering says it is unfair for government to evict thousands of artisanal miners who are gainfully employed and who are contributing to national development.
“This demonstrates that government has no will to support people who are struggling to earn a living in such an industry” says Male, who claims to have invested over Shs370 million in the mines in the past three years.
The artisanal miners have asked Government to atleast give them a grace period of up to one year before evicting them.
In a letter dated June 28th 2017 addressed to Members of Parliament from Mubende district, President Museveni directed that those who invaded where the investor had made excavations must straight away get out.
“The investor is there to help us to know whether there is gold and, if so, how much of it. Why should anybody interfere with this?” President Museveni wrote to law makers from the gold-rich district.
Oil in Uganda has confirmed that there have been back and forth negotiations between the artisanal miners, local leaders, investors and key officials from the central Government.
The Mubende district Woman Member of parliament Benny Bugembe Namugwanya confirmed that area MPs authored a petition to the President on June 16th 2017.
The petition requested the President to give artisanal miners more time before being evicted. The leaders also want government to grant location licenses to the artisanal miners who reportedly applied for them early last year in the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines.
“I agree to give ample time to the artisans in Mubende. That is no problem. The bigger issue is to keep in mind what we talked about in the meeting” the President said.
The President compared the minerals to a family banana plantation where by children of the family or any other family members do not cut immature bananas. Even where the bananas mature, it is the head of the family in this case Government, to determine how much bunches should be cut by whom and when.
“The ample time we talked about should be in portions that are away from where the investor had gone to work” Museveni said in a one-page letter which oil in Uganda has seen.
The Present’s letter is copied to the Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, the Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Gen Kale Kayihura, the Chief of Defence Forces Gen David Muhoozi, the Defence and Veteran affairs minister Adolf Mwesige and Irene Muloni, the Energy and Mineral Development Minister.
However the Bukuya County Member of parliament Dr Michael Bukenya claimed that the Presidential directive seems to be contrary to the President’s stand on artisanal miners which he stated in the 2016 presidential campaigns and the 2017 state of the nation address.
“The president acknowledged artisanal miners and promised that Government would grant them licenses”, says Mr Bukenya who represents the gold-rich constituency in Uganda’s tenth parliament.
“Instead of Government making steps to regularize the artisanal miners by granting them location licensees”, Bukenya adds, “artisanal miners are being threatened with eviction.”
He says artisanal mining in his constituency has stimulated economic growth, increased the local purchasing power, prevented rural-urban migration and created employment for thousands of people.
According to Dr Bukenya, local leaders are seeking audience with the Chief of Defence Forces, the Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and the President to explain the need to stay the eviction.
Chamber of Mines and Petroleum get new leaders
Dr Josephine Wapakabulo, CEO, UNOC joins the Chamber as special advisor, Elly Karuhanga retains his seat as chairman
The Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP) has elected new board members. In the election last week, UCMP members re-elected Dr Elly Karuhanga as the board chairman. Karuhanga is the founding the founding chairman for the Chamber.
In a new twist, Stanbic Bank, Managing Director, Patrick Mweheire takes over from Richard Kaijuka as the Chamber’s new vice chairman. Kaijuka has been the founding vice chairman for the Chamber. Sam Thakkar from UHY Thakkar & Associates, replaces Paul Sherwen, as the General Secretary, Jeff Baitwa, the Managing Director, Threeways Shipping continues as the treasurer.
Launched in 2010, UCMP is a not-for-profit that represents the interests of private players in minerals and petroleum sectors that lobbies government to provide a conducive environment for investing in the extractive sector. It is credited for having pioneered the annual Mineral Wealth Conference and the Oil and Gas Convention that brings key players together to shape the discuss issues that affect the minerals and oil and has gas sectors.
Other members of the influential nine-member board, include; Adewale Fayemi (General Manager, Total E&P BV), Xiao Zong Wei (CNOOC Uganda Limited), Daniel Peterson (Managing Director, Hima Cement), Nicholas Ecimu (Partner, Sebalu and Lule Advocates) and Abdul Kibuuka (Corporate Affairs Manager, Tullow Uganda Limited).
The Council’s Advisory Committee has also changed, with more positions created. The committee has Oliver Lalani from Roofings Group (Minerals), Tony Otoa from TOTAL E&P (Oil & Gas), Patricia Ojangole from the Uganda Development Bank (Finance), Allan Mugisha from Ernst & Young (Tax & Investment), Pamela Natamba from PWC (Local Content), Miriam Magala from the Uganda Insurers Association (Insurance), Gerald Mukyenga from Multilines International (Health, Safety & Environment) and Carol Athiyo from AON Risk Solutions (Public Relations).
Others are Joshua Ogwal, a Partner, Ligomarc Advocates, (Legal & Advisory), Natasha Venus from Sipa Exploration (Human Resources), Dilip Bhandari from Spedag Interfreight (Logistics), Peter Bitarakwate from ZAKHEM (Special Advisor to the Chairman), Dr. Josephine Wapakabulo, Chief Executive Officer, Uganda National Oil Company (Special Advisor) and Aggrey Ashaba from GCC Services (International Relations).
The advisory committee aids the Chamber council. The council’s primary role on the other hand is to help the recently created Board of Trustees (BOT) to oversee the general management and operation of the Chamber.
However, Kaijuka bowed as the vice chairman of the Board of Directors of the UCMP to head the newly establish Board of Trustees. Kaijuka will be deputized on the board of Trustees by Jimmy Mugerwa (General Manager, Tullow Uganda Limited), while Gen Salim Saleh’s sister in-law, Kellen Kayonga is the new treasurer board of trustees. Kayonga is the boss of Asker Security, a private security firm and a dealer in the minerals sector.
Other members of the board of trustees include; Mr Paul Sherwen (General Secretary) and Gordon Sentiba, (Astor Finance Plc) as a member.
The Board of Trustees (BOT) was one of the new additions in the amended UCMP constitution, last year, and will be charged with providing overall governance to the UCMP besides acting as the custodian of the Chamber’s assets and resources.
Dr Karuhanga hailed the new developments as heralding a new chapter in the UCMP’s journey. “The Chamber has continued to evolve to respond to the changing landscape in the petroleum and mining sectors in Uganda. With a good blend of youth and senior citizens, we are positive that the new leadership is well structured to revitalize our focus and direction as the country eyes First Oil in 2020,” he said.
“At the top of our agenda, will be advocating for the creation of a ‘Dream Team’ compromised of government officials and us in the private sector that will make sure our local content aspirations are met through skilling as many Ugandans as possible in all relevant and practical areas while ensuring all timelines are adhered to, to beat the 2020 target.” Dr Karuhanga added.
Karuhanga reiterated UCMP’s appeal for more transparency in the minerals sector, Svalue addition using the latest technologies.
By Our Hoima Correspondent and Edward Ssekika
President’s envoy disappoints Mubende gold miners, fails to turn up for the long awaited reconciliatory meeting
Thousands of artisanal miners that had gathered at lujinji mining site in Mubende district to meet the presidential advisor on land matters left the venue disappointed over her failure to show up.
According to Mr Sempowo Robert chairman Mubende artisanal miners, they secured this appointment with Ms Kiconco flora, the legal presidential advisor of land so that they could be able to show her the area currently occupied by the artisanal miners, how miners operate in this area, equipments being used by miners, how many miners are operating in this area, to win her support towards an end to a possible eviction of the miners by the President.
Earlier in the same month July, the President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni allegedly issued a presidential directive to have over 500 artisan gold miners displaced from the mining area of mubende in favour of Gemstones International mining company. This company holds the location license for the area, but had allowed the artisan miners to operate alongside them in this same area, from which they derive a livelihood. This however has since changed. Worried that the miners may encroach on all the gold, they reportedly sought government’s protection to retain back all their land for which they hold a license. Government officials, majority from the Ministry of Energy advised the president accordingly, who in turn ordered for their vacating.
These miners that gathered up from 7:30am in the morning on Thursday 13th April, left three hours into waiting disappointed after an official communication that the presidential advisor was not to turn up, because she was caught up with state work therefore postponing the meeting to 20/July/2017.
Mr Lukwago Peter one of the miners expressed disappointment: “We have been forced to suspend our work because we are law abiding citizens that need to stream line the course of our work. We really need government to listen to our side of the story other than favouring one investor, a move that has left us jobless.”
Lukwago added that the news about the presidential directive of eviction left them in fear.
“Few people go into the pits in search for gold. Few people are buying new stuff for their shops. Business is no longer booming because we can’t invest much capital for fear of being chased away from the mines,” he said.
Mr Senkusu Edward, the community development officer Kitumbi sub county explained that;” we have received a communication from the presidential advisor that she won’t be able to appear for the meeting because she is caught up with other state matters therefore postponing the meeting to 20/July/2017.”
The presence of potential gold deposits in Kasanda Sub County in Mubende district was first discovered by the British colonial government in the 1920s. Then, in the late 1990s, regular visits by potential investors with big plans alerted locals to the existence of a valuable mineral in their midst, and soon Ugandans from other parts of the country were flocking the area to start small-scale operations as illegal miners. Many people who were previously unemployed or underemployed from the streets of Kampala and from as far Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Rwanda have continued to come into this area. This has led to an impromptu gold rush with miners, washers, middlemen, buyers and exporters.
The area houses men, children and women who utterly derive their livelihood from artisan gold mining. These insist that they applied for a location license two years ago, when they learnt of the expiry of Gemstone’s first license. They however did not receive it, but Gemstone did again.
The Petroleum Fund currently has $ 72 million dollars and Shs 10bn on its Shillings account instead of the $709 that was collected
At least Shs 2 trillion oil revenues has already been spent on infrastructure and other energy projects, a report of the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) reveals. However, the report adopted by parliament last week, does not give details of how and where the money was spent, but the Secretary to the Treasury in a letter, states the money was spent on the construction of Karuma hydro power plant.
One of the terms of reference for the Committee was to establish all revenues received in the Petroleum Fund. Accordingly, during the investigations, the Committee requested the Office of the Auditor General (AOG) to conduct a special audit to establish all revenues received by government in respect of the Petroleum Fund. After the audit, the report notes, it was discovered that so far, government received $709 million dollars in petroleum revenues between 2011 – March, 2017.
“The Committee established that a sum of $709 million dollars which has been ring fenced for infrastructure and energy development, accrued to the sector since petroleum activities started,” the report reads in part. However, as at 14th March, 2017, the Petroleum Fund had only $ 72.5 million dollars on its dollar account and a paltry Shs 10bn on its Shillings account.
“Out of this, $633.7 million dollars (approximately Shs 2.2 trillion) was transferred to the Consolidated Fund [and spent on Karuma hydro power project] while the sum of $72.3 million dollars is being held in dollar account and Shs 10bn Shillings account in the Petroleum Fund.
The Committee report reveals that by the time the Public Finance Management Act came into force in February, 2015, the oil revenue account in Bank of Uganda had a total of Shs 1.36 trillion, which was transferred to the consolidated fund.
In the report, MPs question, why Shs 1.36 trillion was transferred from the Oil Revenues Account in Bank of Uganda to the Consolidated Fund, instead of transferring it to the Petroleum Fund as required by the Public Finance and Accountability Act, 2015, as the fund’s opening balance.
However, in a letter dated June, 24th, 2015, jointly signed by Mr Keith Muhakanizi the Secretary to the Treasury and Mr Lawrence Ssemakula the Accountant General, and seen by our writer, the duo directed the director in charge of Banking at Bank of Uganda to transfer the money, close the account and open a new account in the name of the Uganda Petroleum Fund.
“Prior to the enactment of the PFMA [Public Finance Management Act, 2015], the oil funds on account were earmarked to support the financial year 2014/2015 budget for Karuma hydro power plant, and were released from the consolidated fund and thus need to be refunded to the Uganda Consolidated Fund (UCF),” the duo wrote and further explained, “In order to operationalize the Petroleum Fund, there is need to open bank accounts for the Fund, where all oil revenues received by government from 6th March, 2015 shall be deposited. I authorize you to open a Uganda Shillings (UGX) and dollar (USD) accounts in the name of Uganda Petroleum Fund.”
According to the letter, the principal signatories to the Petroleum Fund are; Mr Keith Muhakanizi, Mr Patrick Ocailap (deputy Secretary to the Treasury), and Mr Lawrence Ssemakula, the Accountant General.
“The Committee recommends close monitoring and supervision of the activities of the petroleum authority and the Uganda National Oil company Limited. The relevant committees of parliament should receive quarterly reports from the Authority and National Oil Company,” the report recommends.
In January, 2017, the Committee chaired by Hon. Abdul Katuntu (Bugweri MP) was tasked to investigate the controversial Shs 6bn reward to 42 government officials for winning a tax dispute between government of Uganda and Heritage Oil and Gas Limited an arbitration tribunal in Landon in 2015.
The gist of the investigation was to establish the legality of the Shs 6bn rewarded to 42 government officials for their effort in winning a tax arbitration case between government of Uganda and Heritage Oil and Gas Limited in Landon.
In 2010, Heritage Oil and Gas Company Limited sold its participating stake in the Albertine Graben to Tullow Uganda Limited at $ 1.45 billion – a transaction that attracted Capital Gains Tax. However, Heritage objected to tax assessments in the Tax Appeal Tribunal and also initiated arbitration proceedings in Landon against government of Uganda under the United Nations Commission for International Trade Law Arbitration Rules, 1976. The company sought a refund of all monies collected as Capital Gains Tax.
In February 2015, the tribunal dismissed Heritage’s application and awarded government of Uganda $ 4 million dollars in costs incurred in defending the application. The committee established that government hired Curtis Mallet – Provost, Colt &Mosle LLP, a British law firm to represent government of Uganda in the arbitration proceedings at a cost of $8.6 million dollars.
Following the victory, the President acting on a request from senior government officials rewarded the 42 officials with Shs 6bn for their contribution.
The committee observes that the selection of the beneficiaries was not all inclusive. ‘For example, Bernard Sanya, the initiator of the tax two assessments was neither on the first list nor the second list of the beneficiaries. According to the report, there was a lot of informality and arbitrariness in the selection of beneficiaries.
“The committee concluded that the Shs 6n reward was contrary to standard practices of rewarding public officers, as provided for in the law. The President’s approval of the Shs 6bn was bonafide. However, it was an error of judgement,” the report reads.
The Committee recommended that all funds paid out of URA account to beneficiaries of the “handshake” should be refunded and all officers who flouted the law should be held accountable.
Responding to the report, Ali Sekatawa, Assistant Commissioner for Litigation, one of the beneficiaries of the handshake threatened to petition court over the report, arguing that the Committee selectively evaluated evidence before it, and thus came to wrong conclusions. He said parliament has no powers to order him to refund the money, since it was not given parliament. It came from URA’s account that had been appropriated by parliament. Parliament unanimously adopted the report.
“The Committee further established that whereas the costs awarded to URA by the Tax Appeals Tribunal and the High Court of Uganda has not been taxed and recovered, up to approximately $ 15 million has not been recovered. The bill of costs is yet to be filed. The International Arbitration Tribunal in Landon did award Government of Uganda costs amounting to $4 million which also remains unrecovered,” the report reads in part.
The report asks the Attorney General to recover the $ 4million dollars as costs awarded by the arbitration tribunal within 90 days from the date of tabling the report. However, Ali Sekatawa says it will be difficult for government to recover the costs from Heritage Oil and Gas Limited, since the company was delisted from the Landon Stock Exchange.
Following the revelations by former Energy Minister, Syda Bbumba, that she signed the Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) without reading through the agreements, the report recommends that politicians should be barred from signing such agreements.
“Parliament should revisit section 8 of the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Act, 2013 with a view of amending it and provide for technical people to be signatories to PSAs. All recoverable costs incurred by oil companies should be submitted to parliament quarterly,” he report reads.
Weighing in on the report, Odonga Otto (Aruu MP), said “The good thing we have a report adopted by parliament, so even if it takes 10 years, the beneficiaries of the handshake will refund that money” he said.
By Edward Ssekika
About 25 kilometers outside Moroto Town, along the Moroto-Mukitale Road that leads to one of the Kenyan borders, is a limestone mining site located precisely in Katikitile Parish in Tapac Sub-County.
In the early 2000s, the site was abuzz with activity. “The entire sub-county of Tapac used to work here,” says Mr. Lokiru Sisto Dodoth, the Gombolola Internal Security Organization Officer (GISO). Locals set-up camp at the site which was busy with life. Work at the cement mining site was the main source of livelihood for majority of the residents. Today, however, only a handful of locals work at the mines.
“Then, about 60 – 80 trucks used to collect limestone daily,” Mr. Lokiru says. The limestone site which sits on over 49 square kilometers is one of two licensed mining areas Tororo Cement owns. The vast site is dotted with heaps of limestone boulders waiting to be collected. Some of the limestone heaps has been there for over a year without being bought, according to the Mr. Lokiru added. Despite this and the very hot sun, youthful men continue to toil; breaking huge boulders with sledge hammers and loosening others with crow bars. An elderly man, probably in his 70s, with the help of a cane, limps around a heap of boulders as he keeps a keen eye to ensure the young men nearby do not steal them. We are told the old man is waiting for his sons to come and start working on cement boulders.
At a distance, is a heavy duty grader owned by Tororo Cement that makes the work lighter. The grader digs-up the huge boulders loosening them for the miners to work on. You could be forgiven for likening the area as a labour camp. This work is “no-walk-in-the-park” assignment; yet the laborers often spend many months without pay.
“These days only about 9 or 10 trucks come for limestone,” says the GISO. He adds that this is further worsened by the poor state of the access roads to the mines, which complicates the ease of reaching the limestone markets. Consequently, limestone business in the area is very low and no longer lucrative for workers.
“When a truck comes to collect limestone, the obvious priority is put on the boulders closest to the access road. This also determines the ease and pace at which the 15ton or more boulders are loaded,” says Mr. Nathan Mushetsya, the Regional Inspector of Mines in the district.
There is a perception among the local residents of a conspiracy among truck drivers to marginalize the Tepeth tribe by preferring to load limestone collect by other tribes, thus depriving the Tepeth income. This perception is confirmed by the assertion of Mr. Lomel Peter, the Local Council 3 (LC3) Chairperson of Tapac Sub-County. “Our people are not given work; Truck drivers prefer to buy from other tribes, so locals do not get market and therefore income for their limestone,”
Mr. Thomas Lomel, a 35-year old worker says “he has worked at the site for seventeen years, but he has not benefited anything”. A father of seven, he is worried that after many years of toiling, his energy is dwindling and he fears he might not be able to fend for his family soon. He says, the income generation option available, which is agriculture is unfortunately a distant consolation.
The Mr. Lokiru reported that the region has not had meaningful agricultural produce in the last five years, because of adverse weather conditions. A record five-year drought hit the region in 2009 and its effects have continued to be felt to this day.
During a meeting with a team from Oil in Uganda at Tapac Sub-County headquarters, the Local Council officials blamed Tororo Cement for their financial woes and predicament.
“Every time we call the Tororo Cement Officials to meet with us to discuss our problems related with limestone mining, the officials refuse to come to the meetings”, Mr. Lomel said. He asked the Oil in Uganda team to help them meet with the Tororo Cement Officials, because “they as affected resident have failed to achieve this” he added.
Mr. Mushetsya, during an extractives stakeholders’ workshop organized by Action Aid Uganda, reported that he had met some of the officials of Tororo Cement Factory who informed him that they had selected a Liaison person at the district to link the affected residents with the factory. However, Mr. Lomel said that “the liaison person had not been of any help to the residents’.
The officials said “Tapac’s woes, unsurprisingly, include royalty related issues”. Bona-fide landowners where limestone is being extracted have never received their share of royalties remitted by Tororo Cement factory to the Central Government as provided in the Mining Act 2003”, the officials added. Landowners where mining activities are conducted are entitled to 3% of the total royalties paid by a mineral prospector as per the law. Instead, the royalty money was being sent to another sub-county through the Community Development Officer. The landlords reported that this issue has since been rectified and they are in final stages of registering an association through which they will be receiving their royalty money.
Mr. Paul Omonuk, the Production Officer of Tapac Sub-Country claimed that the sub-county does not receive the 7% of royalty as provided in the Law. He also asserted that the district restricts the sub-county’s use of the 7% royalty money remitted to the district claiming that at one time they wanted to buy a vehicle to ease their movements, but the district refused them to do so. However, this claim was refuted by Mr. Mushetsya who informed the participants at the workshop that the Sub-County has authority and mandate to use the royalty money as per their development plans. He explained that the district leadership cannot dictate how the Sub-County uses the money, because they held accountable.
The Oil in Uganda team also learnt that Tororo Cement pays Ug.shs7,000 per truck that leaves the limestone mines. But, this money never reached the sub-county. It was later discovered that Mr. John Bosco Moru, the former Sub-County Chief, used to receive the money and use it for personal interests without the knowledge of the community. Mr. Moru was subsequently dismissed upon the discovery of his illicit conduct.
Based on the submissions of the workshop participants, they suggest that there is an information gap between Tapac Sub-county and Moroto Local Government that is responsible for the unease between the two parties. There is need for timely sharing of accurate information between the two parties.
Tororo Cement sets Record Straight
The Tororo field office is located in Kosiroi about 5 kilometers from the limestone mines. While there, the Oil in Uganda team spoke to the site manager, Mr. Kennedy Akenda together with a few other staffs who were disappointed with the accusations being leveled at Tororo Cement Factory by the Tapac Community members
Mr. Akenda explained that “the miners’ predicament regarding low business volume as a result of reduced number of trucks ferrying limestone was attributed to a Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) directive to the reduce the number of truck plying the route and the tons ferried to avoid continued spoilage of the roads”. He added that “the other factor responsible for the low business volumes was the profitability of ferrying fewer tons of limestone: truck owners found it not profitable to ferry only 11 tons of limestone over a distance of 300kms and consume more than 250 liters of fuel, so many truck owners opted out of the business and put their vehicles to other use” Kennedy said. “The distance from Moroto to the factory in Tororo is over 300km. It does not make business sense to ferry low tonnage of limestone and a high transport cost” Kennedy added. He informed the Oil in Uganda team that “the factory was expanding and setting-up another plant; “maybe then
Mr. Akenda further explained that they were instructed by Tapac officials to withhold payments on truck royalties until the mess created by the former Sub-County Chief is sorted. Once the Tapac officials give the factory clearance to remit the royalty money, they will do so accordingly, because they have clear records.
This explanation from the officials of the factory notwithstanding, the Tapac leaders are determined to pursue the matters until they get what belongs to them as benefits. They warned the factory from bringing their own labour force to mine the limestone, arguing that the community members are ready to mine and sale the limestone to the factory.
The Tapac leader reported that they are in negotiations with Tororo Cement over a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will guide their relationships.
Mubende gold mining is highly dominated by men, a trait blamed on the cultural belief of women not being allowed to access mines.
Mr Kibirige Emmanuel the secretary Singo Artisan Small Scale Miners Association (SASSMA) in Kitumbi sub county Mubende district explains that they have 1420 registered members but only 472 are women that deal in petty jobs like panning gold dust, spreading the gold dust in the sun to dry up among others.
“Women engagement in the gold mining is rooted back in our culture. It was believed that if you slept with a woman you could never get gold the next day. Women were not allowed to step near a gold pit because they were looked at as a curse, that if they got close to a gold pit, gold could disappear. As a result we also told our workers never to sleep with a woman for a full week,” Mr Kibirige revealed
“However these are practices that were made by our grandparents but we have discovered that all these were lies because today women have come up to engage in the mining although in small numbers. They enter tunnels and pits and own gold pits and all is well, nothing has gone wrong.” Kibirige stressed
Kibirige explained that the value chain begins with getting a spade in the morning, entering the pit, digging out the gold dust which is done by men. Women are involved in petty jobs like sun drying the gold dust, taking it to the crashing/milling machine after which they start panning it. A few women however have taken on the ‘men’ jobs of buying and selling gold.
However others also blame the limited involvement of women in the mining sector on limited information provision. About 2500 women in Mubende district have not directly engaged in mining sector due to lack of information which has hindered there economic empowerment.
According to the community development officer for Kitumbi Sub County Mr senkusu Edward the information gap in the mining sector has greatly affected the women involvement in this activity thus carrying out petty jobs like gold dust panning where they earn peanuts
Mr Senkusu explained that gold mines in Mubende district are estimated to accommodate around 60,000 people dealing in the business. Out of this number only 2500 are women who engage mainly in service provision.
“Most women are always scared of engaging in mining sector, they do not know how to operate machines, fear taking risks- a culture belief community attitude and above all they lack information to help them run this business,” he explained.
“There is need for thorough sensitization of the community to enable the women to work in the mines.” Senkusu stressed
Ms Catherine Nyakecho, a Geologist Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development confirmed that women engagement in the mining sector is still at low capacity. She explained that a survey carried out in 20 Uganda’s gold mining sites revealed that men participation stands at 113,756 while women are at 79,019.
According to the Mining Act, 2003, clause 114, on the contrary, a woman may be employed in any underground work in any mine or in any operation or activity relating to or associated with mining. This clearly indicates that women are catered for under the law but due to the lack of information and cultural ties, women involvement in this sector is below standard.
Ms Nivatiti Nandujja the Women Rights Coordinator ActionAid Uganda, women should come on board and get involved in the decision making in the mining sector.
“We need to have gender based laws with in this sector. When it comes to the employment pattern, the conditions where they work are critical; they lack protective gears from dangerous chemicals substances, they don’t have the entitlements provided for by the law like maternity leave , the wages are really wanting. These issues and more need to be addressed,” she advised
Ms Nivatiti explained that there is need to make information about the mining sector available for women. She called on ensuring a gender equity sector with women representation who ensure that women benefits within the sector are pronounced.
Nivatiti stressed that; “We need to address the cultural barriers affecting women participation; we need to empower women to talk in all the forums and to ask for what belongs to them during community meetings. They need to bargain their way through so that their rights are realized.”
By Josephine Nabaale
MPs ask government to establish an independent body tasked with regulating the Mining sector
Members of Parliament want government to establish an independent body – Minerals Authority to regulate the mining sector. The MPs argue that it will be able to check the immense discretionary powers the Mining Act, 2003 vest in the Commissioner [now director] at the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM).
Hon. Samson Lokeris, Dodoth East MP, says just as government established an independent Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) to regulate the petroleum sector, the same should be done for the mining sector.
“We should establish something like the mineral authority it can regulate and provide oversight supervision,” Mr Lokeris said and further explained,
“I think there is need to reduce the powers of the Commissioner. If we can regulate that, it will be very important. We need the involvement of the players including communities and local governments,” he said.
Hon Robert Ntende, Bunya South MP, in Mayuge district also backed Mr Lokeris on the establishment of a Minerals Authority. “We need to make sure that the powers vested in the commissioner are trimmed and shared in other institutions – the Minerals Authority,” Ntende said.
The Commissioner is currently allowed to make a number of critical decisions, particularly related to the granting, renewing and revoking of rights without consulting anybody or committee. This means that the Commissioner has direct and unfettered discretionary control over the sector. This discretion must be checked by introducing an independent oversight body such as a “Minerals Authority” tasked with reviewing bids, approving applications and recommending
The MPs made the recommendations during a Mining Legislation Review meeting by ActionAid Uganda, between MPs on the Natural Resources Committee of Parliament and Civil Society Organizations in Kampala on Thursday 18, May, 2017. The meeting aimed at sensitizing MPs to be able to shape the forthcoming amendment of the Mining Act, 2003 and Mining Policy 2001.
Mr Bashir Twesigye, the executive director, Civic Response on Environment and Development (CRED) said many jurisdictions are moving away from concentrating powers in one person or body. He gave the example of Zambia, where government established Mining Licensing Committee to check on the abuse of powers and provide additional scrutiny and Ghana, where a Minerals Commission, was established to that handles licensing and other oversight functions of the mining sector.
The CSOs recommend that the Minerals Authority should be charged with review and approval of applications for license and forward them to the Minister for licensing based on a prescribed procedure for the evaluation of bid information.
The MPs also backed a proposal from civil society organizations for the establishment of the Minerals Fund and a Minerals Investment Reserve in Bank of Uganda to hold all revenues generated from the mining sector. “There is a lot of money from the minerals but we don’t know where it goes. Who monitors whether royalties have been paid or not,” Lokeris wondered.
Mr Isaac Kabongo, Executive Director, Ecological Christian Organization implored government to also consider regulating low value minerals in the forthcoming amendments.
“Uganda’s policies and laws tend to focus mainly on high value minerals and silent on neglected minerals [law value minerals]. Minerals like sand, murrum, clay are always neglected,” he said. However, Uganda’s Constitution excludes sand, clay, stones normally used for building from minerals save if exploited for commercial purposes.
“Without looking for revenues from all sectors, it will always be a challenge to meet our budget. We need to be smart and make sure that every fee is collected. Do the companies pay the taxes they are supposed to pay?” Mr Kabongo said.
Kabongo says in the forthcoming amendments to the Mining Act 2003, there should be a provision for mining companies to first secure a social license to operate from the communities.
“Sometimes, these companies come with their licenses from Entebbe, without any courtesy to introduce themselves to district, sub county or community leaders, go with their equipments and begin mining which is causing a lot of conflict with the local people,” he said. He said in some areas like Karamoja, host communities are being compelled to live on marginal lands and they are left with no option by to become landless.
CSOs also want government to regulate and formalize artisanal and small scale miners and secure their livelihoods and also the establishment of a quasi-judicial body – tribunal to handle disputes in the mining sector. “We think dispute should be handled by an independent tribunal, which should be established by the amended Act,” Mr Bashir Twesigye said.
The Civil Society Organisations will be pushing for inclusivness as they present their agenda to Members of Parliament in the ongoing legislation review process of the Mining Act 2003 and Mining Policy 2001.
Stakeholders of the Civil Society Organisation will be meeting Members of Parliament drawn from the Natural Resources Committee and Parliamentary Forum on Oil and Gas (PFOG) in a working dialogue tomorrow on Thursday 18, May 2017 praying to have their views taken into consideration in the ongoing legislative review process of the Mining Act 2003 and Mining Policy 2001.
Ms. Flavia Nalubega, the project officer of the Extractives Governance Project at Actionaid Uganda, says it will be an opportunity for civil society to “voice their expectations on the law under review and also have an input in the matter.
“Now is the time to rally support before the matter is presented on the floor of parliament,” Ms. Nalubega said.
The workshop follows a consultative meeting with Members of Parliament on the Natural Resources Committee under the leadership of Hon. Mukitale Steven that was held in March this year regarding the review of the Mining Act.
According to the Mining and Mineral Policy Draft 2016, government recognizes the input of artisanal miners to the socio-economic development of the country bearing in mind that artisanal mining is a source of livelihood for thousands of Ugandans.
In this regard government plans to organize and formalize artisanal miners and gazette them to operate in areas that are not under commercial exploration.
Ms Winfred Ngabirwe, Global Rights Alert Executive Director, says they hope to build consensus with the legislators to ensure a well regulated sector and a better Uganda.
“We have the National Development Plan and Vision 2040 and we need MPs to know where we are coming from. Without good legislation we are leaving out a very big section of Ugandans where we’ll continue to see under development and exploitation, “ She said and added,
“The challenge is not about the leadership, the State or who is in power; there’s no one against the other but rather we strive for inclusive development in the sector,” Ms Ngabiirwe said.
Stakeholders can join the interaction on Twitter under the hastag #mininglegislation that will be relayed by @OilInUg.
Report by Robert Mwesigye