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.