Fol­low­ing the evic­tions of over 60,000 ar­ti­san min­ers early this month, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the gold rich Mubende dis­trict pre­sented a mo­tion on the floor urg­ing Par­lia­ment to in­ves­ti­gate the evic­tion and dis­place­ment of min­ers.

Moved by Hon. Micheal Bukenya and sec­onded by five other MPs from the dis­trict, the mo­tion ex­pressed high dis­con­tent­ment.

Some of the prayers of the mo­tion in­cluded; in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the cir­cum­stances un­der which Gem­stone In­ter­na­tional at­tained a min­ing li­cense, com­pen­sa­tion of the mas­sive loss of prop­erty by gov­ern­ment, al­lo­ca­tion of 5 square miles of the 208 square miles in ques­tion to lo­cal min­ers as well as an im­me­di­ate so­lu­tion for those who were evicted. Some of the prayers were amended on the floor.

Dur­ing the de­bate, a num­ber of MPs also ex­pressed their dis­con­tent­ment with the gov­ern­ment and its pol­icy on land ac­qui­si­tion.

In his sub­mis­sion, Hon. Mb­wa­tekamwa Gaffa com­pared the man­ner of evic­tions to those of for­mer Pres­i­dent Iddi Amin in 1972. He how­ever lauded Amin be­cause he gave three (3) months no­tice be­fore the evic­tions as op­posed to Pres­i­dent Mu­sev­eni who gave less than 48 hours.

Ac­cord­ing to the state­ment, prop­erty worth mil­lions was looted by those pur­port­edly pro­tect­ing the prop­erty and car­ry­ing out the evic­tions. Even more dis­sat­is­fac­tion was ex­pressed in re­gard to the li­cens­ing of Gem­stone In­ter­na­tional, the in­vestor given min­ing rights in the same area.

The MPs told the house that gov­ern­ment ought to have le­gal­ized their busi­nesses as op­posed to deny­ing them the right to own prop­erty con­trary with Ar­ti­cle 26 of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

While some of the rea­sons fronted by the au­thor­i­ties in­cluded a plethora of for­eign­ers who were min­ing in the area, the mo­tion dis­missed this. MP. Bukenya told the house only a few for­eign­ers were car­ry­ing out busi­nesses in the area.

Of the said for­eign­ers, ban­yarwanda are legally rec­og­nized by the Con­sti­tu­tion as a tribe. Also, there are al­le­ga­tions that some min­ers had been buried in the mines dur­ing the evic­tion.

Deputy Speaker Ja­cob Oulanyah weighed in on the de­bate; he said that while the gov­ern­ment had a re­spon­si­bil­ity to carry out its man­date, it had gone over­board in this case. He asked how the cur­rent cri­sis would be re­solved im­me­di­ately, to which the Min­is­ter had no an­swer.

Min­is­ter of En­ergy and Min­eral De­vel­op­ment, Hon Mu­loni dur­ing the sit­ting did not have sat­is­fac­tory an­swers to the plight of the evicted min­ers. While she tried to ex­plain that the con­di­tions un­der which the min­ers were op­er­at­ing were dan­ger­ous and that the use of mer­cury and cyanide had caused can­cers, MPs thwarted her re­sponse. They said, her re­sponse was full of false­hoods and not rel­e­vant at the mo­ment as a cri­sis was at hand and needed an im­me­di­ate re­sponse.

The Min­is­ter, flanked by the Min­is­ters of Fi­nance and Gov­ern­ment Chief Whip re­quested for some time to con­sult with cab­i­net on the mat­ter and re­port back. They promised to pro­vide im­me­di­ate re­lief as they waited for sub­se­quent short term and long term pol­icy de­ci­sions from Cab­i­net.

Al­though Mem­bers were skep­ti­cal about this re­quest, mover of the Mo­tion, Hon. Bukenya con­ceded and al­lowed the Min­is­ters to re­turn on Tues­day with con­crete an­swers on the way for­ward.