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LoP Mpuuga: New mining act will sell Uganda’s mines to foreigners

Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga meeting artisan miners at Nakyooga mines, in Kabale district, on Friday, 26 November 2021. (PHOTO /UG Standard )

The Opposition in Parliament has raised a red flag on the proposed amendment of the Mining Act (2003) to give the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development sweeping powers over the country’s natural resources.

While meeting artisan miners at Nakyooga in Kabale district’s Kamuganguzi sub county as he began his tour of Kigezi and Ankole sub-regions on Friday, 26 November 2021, the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Mathias Mpuuga, raised fears that the planned amendments will disempower the young generation as the government moves to hand mining and export rights to multinationals.

“In our Legislative Agenda, we are clear on how we intend to address the issue of sharing in the country’s natural resources, and we clearly state it that under the current government, communities are being disempowered to empower foreign companies and foreign interests and a few greedy and pseudo local investors at the expense of the communities,” Mpuuga said.

The Nakyooga mines employ more than 3,000 miners who are likely to become jobless should the proposed legislation pass into law, Moses Kamuntu, the Rubanda County West MP said.

Kigezi sub-region is said to be rich in minerals such as tin, tungsten, tantalum, gold and uranium among others.

With the latest figures released by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics putting the poverty levels in Kigezi at 28 per cent, a 16 per cent increase from last year’s ratings, the Legislators expressed fears that the Mining Act will exacerbate the poverty situation.

Mpuuga demanded for a more consultative process in enacting laws, adding that the Opposition in Parliament is already analysing the proposed law on how it is going to affect the local communities.

In another engagement, the Leader of Opposition while interacting with health workers at Kabale Regional Referral Hospital, called for improved budget allocations to the health sector.

“We are alive to the requirements of the Abuja Declaration which requires us to allocate at least 15 per cent of our budgets to health. The last time I checked, we were still at eight per cent. It is going even down this financial year. That should really be something to concern all of us,” Mpuuga said.

“The team I lead is very committed in pushing for a better budget for the health sector. We are going to be better advocates for a better health budget,” he added.

He was speaking after health workers led by the hospital’s medical director, Dr Sophie Namasopo reported the funding challenges that have compromised service delivery at the facility.

For instance, this financial year, the hospital which serves all the six districts in the Kigezi sub-region and part of Ntungamo district, was allocated Shs 1.2 billion for medicines and other medical supplies which Dr. Namasopo said is inadequate to meet the demand on ground.

The hospital is also grappling with power outages which has affected the operations of the surgical theatre and production of the much-needed oxygen.

Some equipment especially those used for diagnostics have been damaged by the unstable power supply to the hospital.

The Opposition leader also had consultations with religious leaders, farmers and local leaders.

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