On Tues­day 19th March 2019, a sec­tion of MPs ad­dressed the press on the re­fusal of the Pres­i­dent H.E Yow­eri Kaguta Mu­sev­eni to sign the Sugar Bill into Law. These MPs in­cluded Hon. Fred Tu­ryah­weza, Hon. Mau­rice Kibarya and Hon. Muwanga Kivumbi in the lead.

On 22nd No­vem­ber 2018, the Par­lia­ment of Uganda passed the Sugar Bill, into an Act with amend­ments. The most con­tro­ver­sial is­sue on which the House held a con­tentious de­bate at all the stages of Bil­l’s read­ing was zon­ing. The Bill pro­posed zon­ing of sugar cane grow­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers by a ra­dius of 25 kilo­me­ters which im­plies that out grow­ers were re­stricted from trad­ing off their sugar cane to sugar man­u­fac­tur­ers out­side their zones. MPs in­clud­ing Hon. An­ge­line Os­egge were con­cerned that the zon­ing strat­egy would leave sug­ar­cane out grow­ers vul­ner­a­ble to ex­ploita­tion by sugar man­u­fac­tur­ers.

On Fri­day 15 March 2019, while ad­dress­ing leg­is­la­tors of the rul­ing party NRM at their an­nual re­treat in Kyankwanzi, the Pres­i­dent an­nounced that he will send back the Bill to par­lia­ment say­ing it’s crip­pled in its cur­rent state. The Pres­i­dent ac­cused some MPs of hold­ing sus­pi­cious re­la­tion­ships with small scale sugar man­u­fac­tur­ers thus try­ing to an­tag­o­nize the old sugar man­u­fac­tur­ers.

Re­spond­ing to the Pres­i­den­t’s de­ci­sion and al­le­ga­tions, Hon. Tu­rya­muh­weza stressed to the press the ob­ject of the Bill which is to pro­mote a sus­tain­able, di­ver­si­fied, mod­ern­ized and com­pet­i­tive sugar sec­tor to serve the needs of Ugan­dans.  He op­posed the Pres­i­den­t’s sub­mis­sion that tagged the Bill crip­pled and ex­plained that the Bill in its cur­rent state is pro-peo­ple and well in line with the lib­er­al­iza­tion of Ugan­da’s econ­omy.

Tu­rya­muh­weza men­tioned that the MPs passed the Bill into an Act with the aim of avoid­ing mo­nop­oly, fa­voritism, and ex­ploita­tion. They be­lieve that the Bill when passed into law, shall pro­mote lo­cal con­tent com­pared to the pre­vi­ous sec­tor which was dom­i­nated by for­eign­ers. The pass­ing of the Bill also con­sid­ered the cre­ation of em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for Ugan­dans. Tu­rya­muh­weza ar­gued that the Pres­i­dent should­n’t in­sist on ad­min­is­ter­ing zon­ing in the sugar sec­tor since he has never ex­pressed any in­ter­est of im­part­ing the same strat­egy into other sec­tors such as the tea, ba­nana and cof­fee farm­ing.

Hon. Kibarya al­leged that the Pres­i­dent is in a bid to pro­tect in­ter­ests of a few in­di­vid­u­als at the ex­pense of Ugan­dans. The vis­i­bly dis­tressed MP spoke to the self­ish­ness of the old sugar man­u­fac­tur­ers such as Mad­hivani who are ex­tremely wealthy at the ex­pense of the re­gions they op­er­ate in; sight­ing an ex­am­ple of Bu­soga. He vowed never to sup­port zon­ing claim­ing that it will open his con­stituents in Bu­soga to poverty. Kibarya ex­plained that he is pro­tect­ing small scale sugar man­u­fac­tur­ers be­cause they are le­gal with le­git­i­mate li­censes and con­tribute greatly to the de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try.

Hon. Muwanga Kivumbi ad­vised the old large scale sugar man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies to fo­cus on cut­ting on their pro­duc­tion ex­penses through im­prove­ment of tech­nol­ogy and ex­tremely in­vest in re­search. The MPs vowed never to leg­is­late on the wills of in­di­vid­u­als but rather to pro­tect the in­ter­ests of all Ugan­dans.