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.