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Artisanal Miners Seek Compensation for Losses Incurred in Mubende Eviction

The miners under Mubende United Miners’ Assembly (MUMA) tabled their plea before the Natural Resources Committee of Parliament, where they had been invited in relation to an earlier petition challenging their eviction from mining fields in Bukuya Sub County. The fields were taken over by an investor, Gemstones International.
17 Oct 2019 15:53

Audio 5

Artisanal miners from Mubende District are seeking compensation for alleged torture, theft and extortion during an eviction which was effected two years ago. 

The miners under Mubende United Miners’ Assembly (MUMA) tabled their plea before the Natural Resources Committee of Parliament, where they had been invited in relation to an earlier petition challenging their eviction from mining fields in Bukuya Sub County. The fields were taken over by an investor, Gemstones International.

John Bosco Bukya, the Chairperson of the artisanal miners told MPs that their petition was overtaken by events because they could not stop the eviction which was effected on August 4, 2017. However, he described their eviction as merciless, brutal and heartless.

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Mubende United Miners’ Assembly is composed of 23 associations of the former evictees from Bukuya Sub-County, Kitumbi Sub-County and bibanja owners who re-grouped to form the umbrella body, to advocate for the formalization of artisanal and small scale miners as well as their return to the mines. 

MUMA General Secretary Emmanuel Kibirige said that they were able to acquire a mining area through a presidential directive issued in April 2018, as a result of negotiations with the government after their eviction. 

Although the directive did not specify the exact areas where miners would be taken by the government, the matter was sorted after eight months when a final decision was taken to settle the miners in new areas where they had never worked before. 

He further told MPs that all MUMA members have since acquired location licenses in the allocated area and that a total of 35 location licenses have been issued. However, Kibirige said that they have never found any sensible deposits in the new area despite their investment.

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He appealed to the committee to recommend that Gemstones International surrenders at least 1 square mile out of the 144 that they hold in their former mining areas.  Kibirige further asked the committee to recommend timely and adequate compensation for the people who suffered torture, alleged theft and extortion during the eviction.

Kibirige said that they have hired experts to quantify and qualify the damages, loss of opportunity and property that happened during the eviction.  

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One of the petitioners, Jacob Mutabaazi Tusubira recounted how his structures were run over by bulldozers leaving him in the cold with his family.

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Buhweju Woman MP Oliver Koyekyenga also alleged massive human rights abuses by the minerals police who allegedly beat up the miners and destroyed their property while carrying out the eviction.

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Norah Bwaya, the President Uganda Association of Artisanal and Small Scale Miners Limited (UGAASM) asked the government to halt all evictions and organize the artisanal miners for effective management of natural resources.  

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