By witnessradio.org team
As almost all African Countries’ leaders are involved in secretive deals with foreign mining companies due to pervasive corruption that allows only corrupt elites to profit at the expense of ordinary citizens, African MPs, Civil Society and academia have embarked on a push for a common mining laws across the continent.
Meeting from Yaounde, Cameroon during a four-day conference under the theme; “The issue of political and socio economic integration of the African continent: The role of the Pan African Parliament” participants are concerned over natural resource governance and economic development thus pushing for transparency and accountability by the governments and mining companies.
“The model mining law would give pointers that would, for example, strengthen the negotiating capacity of Parliaments; ensuring meaningful collaboration between key players and providing support for the required social dialogue,” Dr. Paul Jourdan, one of the panelists, said.
He elaborated that the African Mining Vision, adopted by African heads of state during their July, 2009 meeting in Kigali, is seen as a solution to the poor governance, lack of strong institutions and weak policies in African states.
He explained that the African Mining Vision framework is currently being used in several countries such as Mozambique, Ethiopia, Lesotho, and Tanzania and provides for a transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development.
Jourdan noted that AMV is also supporting countries to develop world class geological survey system so that they can negotiate from a point of knowledge. He said they hope to work with the Pan African Parliament to train parliamentarians on contract negotiations.
While legislators appreciated the need for a model law to regulate mining on the continent, they noted that there are some hurdles that need to be overcome.
Geoffrey Lungwangwa, a Zambian MP was concerned that some colonial land laws still exist in Africa.
“If you have title to land, you are only confined to the surface and anything under the surface belongs to the state. That land law still prevails in our countries today and it is a contributing factor to poverty,” he said.
He added that “many of our people are being removed from land once minerals are discovered. They are not even given shares in the mining companies. Is this really socio-economic transformation?”
This comes barely a month after over 70,000 gold artisanal miners in Mubende were forcefully evicted from the mines by UPDF soldiers under the command of 1st division commander Col. Joseph Balikkuddembe.
The eviction which was conducted on President’s orders was made to pave way for the investor running Gemstone International Ltd to operate alone on grounds that it obtained a mining lease on such huge land covering villages in Mubende district.
Now MP Lungwangwa said that there is need to have a model law will eventually empower local communities to have shares in the mining companies so that they are economically empowered.
Hailing from Sierra Leone, a country endowed with diamond, but grappling with excessive exploitation, and child labour, MP Bernadette Lahai said that there is an urgent need for African states to enter into open Memorandum of Understanding with mining companies.
“Children as young as six years work in the mines. We don’t want mining to affect education,” she said adding that “Mining agreements are conducted between government and the mining companies [secretly] leaving MPs and the local population in the dark.” She added.
She argued that there is need for capacity building for MPs to monitor and oversee the mining activities in their countries so that they can approve or reject mining deals that come to Parliament.
According to the African Development Bank, minerals account for an average of 70 percent of total African exports and about 28 percent of the gross domestic product. It notes that earnings from the recent oil, gas and mineral discoveries in Uganda, Mozambique and Tanzania could lead to an increase in government revenues of between 9 percent and 31 percent in the first 10 years of production.
Legislators noted that because of the structure of Africa’s extractive industries, most countries remain exporters of unprocessed commodities. They proposed that Africa needs to add value to her exports so as to unlock the full economic potential of its natural resources.
According to Hon. Anifa Kawooya (Uganda), the diversity in Africa may not be in asset in having a uniform law.
“We have different land laws and policies. Having one unified model will be complicated,” she said.
She explained that “There is also the issue of who owns the land where the minerals are found. The land tenures in African countries are different. Some land is owned by the government, individuals, and others owned customarily. We also don’t know how much natural resources we have.”
Complaint against unprofessional conduct of the DPC Kiryandongo district for aiding and abetting land grabbing in kiryandongo district.
Professional Standards Unit, Uganda Police-Kampala.
RE: COMPLAINT AGAINST UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT OF THE DPC KIRYANDONGO DISTRICT FOR AIDING AND ABETTING LAND GRABBING IN NYAMUTENDE KITWARA PARISH KIRYANDONGO DISTRICT AND CARRYING OUT ILLEGAL ARRESTS AND DETENTION OF INNOCENT RESIDENTS/ BIBANJA OWNERS FOR PROTESTING AGAINST THE ILLEGAL EVICTION FROM THEIR LAND.
We act for and behalf of the Lawful and bonafide occupants of Land described as LRV MAS 2 FOLIO 8 BLOCK 8 PLOT 22 (FORMERLY KNOWN AS RANCH 22).
Our Clients are residents of Nyamutende Village, Kitwara Parish in Kiryandongo District where they have lived for more than 30 years and sometime in 2017, they applied for a lease of the said Land to Kiryandongo District Land Board through the Directorate of Land Matters State House.
As they were still awaiting their Application to be processed, they were shocked to establish that the said land had been instead leased to and registered in the names of Isingoma Julius, Mwesige Simon, John Musokota William, Tumusiime Gerald, Wabwire Messener Gabriel, Ocema Richard and Wilson Shikhama, some of whom were not known to the Complainants. A copy of the Search is attached hereto
Our clients protested the above action and appealed to relevant offices, but were shocked to discover that the above persons had gone ahead and sold the same to a one Maseruka Robert.
Aggrieved by these actions, the Complainants appealed to the RDC who advised them to institute proceedings against the said persons, and assigned them a one Mbabazi Samuel to assist them to that effect. The said Mbabazi accordingly filed Civil Suit Noa 46 of 2019 against tne said registered proprietors at Masindi High Court challenging the illegal and fraudulent registration, sale and transfer of the subject land to Maseruka Robert.
While awaiting the progress of the case mentioned hereinabove, the Complainants were surprised to find that the said Mbabazi, instead of assisting them, he went into a consent settling the said suit on their behalf without their knowledge or consent. A copy of the Consent is attached hereto.
Among the terms of the said consent Judgment was that the residents would be compensated without specifying how much and would in return vacate the Land.
As if that was not enough, Maseruka Robert and Mbabazi Samuel are going ahead to execute the said Consent Judgment by forcefully evicting the occupants without compensation which has prompted the complainants to challenge the said Consent by applying for its review and setting aside at Masindi High Court which is coming up for hearing on the 29th March 2023. A copy of the Application is attached hereto.
Sensing the imminent threat of eviction, we also filed an application for interim stay of execution of the said consent to avoid rendering their application for review nugatory but unfortunately the same could not be heard on the date it was fixed for hearing (6th February 2023). A copy of the Application is attached hereto
On Thursday last week, three tractors being operated by 6 workers of a one Mbabazi Samuel [the very person who had been entrusted to represent our Clients to secure their Land through Civil Suit No.46 of 2019] encroached close to 50 acres of our Clients’ land and started ploughing it but our Client’s protested and chased them away.
We have however been shocked to receive information from our Clients that on Sunday at Mid night, 3 police patrols invaded the community in the night and arrested community members; Mulenje Jack, Steven Kagyenji, Mulekwa David, Ntambala Geoffrey, Tumukunde Isaac 15 years, Kanunu Innocent, Mukombozi Frank, Kuzara, Rwamunyankole Enock, and took them to Kiryandongo Police Station where they are currently detained.
We strongly protest the illegal arrests and detention of our Clients as this is a carefully orchestrated land grabbing scheme by Maseruka Robert and Mbabazi Samuel who are receiving support from the DPC Kiryandongo.
The purpose of this Letter therefore is to request your good office to investigate the misconduct, abuse of office and unprofessionalism of the said DPC Kiryandongo District and all his involvement in the land grabbing schemes on land formerly known as Ranch 22.
Looking forward to your urgent intervention,
C.C The Head Police Land Protection Unit Police Head Quarters Naguru
CC The RDC Kiryandongo District
CC The Chairman LCVKityadongo District
CC The Regional Police CommanderAlbertine Region
The Executive Director of Witness Radio Uganda talks about the role played by Witness Radio in protecting communities affected by large-scale agribusinesses in Kiryandongo district in an interview with the ILC.
Witness Radio Uganda wins the best CSO land rights defenders award at the National Land Forum Awards.
By Witness Radio Team
Uganda’s leading land and environmental rights watchdog, Witness Radio has been awarded the best CSO land rights defender award 2022 in the recently concluded National Land Forum Awards held last week at Mestil hotel in Kampala.
Witness Radio’s executive Director, Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala attributed the award to the community land and environmental rights defenders who stand up against the intimidation and different forms of harassment from land grabbers (economically powerful and politically connected companies and individual investors).
“This is an award for defenders at a community level. They work in very deadly environments filled with harassment, torture, death threats, arrest, trumped-up charges, and kidnaps among others to advocate for community land and environment rights. This is happening at a spate where criminalization and silencing of community land rights defenders are at increase.” Jeff added.
The award has come at a time when hundreds of Ugandans in different parts of the country are accessing services provided by the organization ranging from legal service provisions, non-judicial mechanism engagements, empowerment to help them understand their rights, and using the same knowledge to use the same skills to push back against illegal and forced evictions
The chairman of the organizing committee of the second National Land Forum, Mr. Jimmy Ochom noted some progress on legislation in Uganda’s land Governance. He cited growing inequalities on land where the poor are more vulnerable.
During awards, the state minister for housing, Hon persis Namuganza revealed that the government approved the plan for 2018-2040 that maps the land use in the country.
According to the minister, the government had identified land for settlement, game reserves, wildlife, arable land for farming, and water bodies among others in the plan which she said was passed a few weeks ago.
The event was organized by Oxfam and partners and provided a platform for discussions by the different actors in the land sector on issues around land governance, including land rights, land administration, and land governance for improved collaboration, cooperation between the actors, and improved land service delivery for Ugandans under a theme “Taking stock of the National Land Policy in addressing Land inequality in addressing Land inequality in Uganda.”
Other categories of awards that were won by different organizations and individuals including Mr. Eddie Nsamba-Gayiiya for his contribution to research on land rights, Justice Centers Uganda for Promoting Access to Land Justice, and Mr. Henry Harrison Irumba for Championing Legal Reforms among others.
MEDIA FOR CHANGE NETWORK2 weeks ago
A multi-billion project funded by AfDB and NDF is furthering poverty and food insecurity in Paten community targeted for a development project.
MEDIA FOR CHANGE NETWORK4 days ago
Pushing back: The EACOP victim community rushes to court seeking reinstatement onto their land and compensation.
NGO WORK1 week ago
Almost 2,000 land and environmental defenders were killed between 2012 and 2022 for simply standing up to protect our planet and us all from the accelerating climate crisis.