Engineer Vincent Kedi, an engineer in the Directorate of Geological surveys and Mines, says that at some sites, the landlords gave Mustafa surface rights for 50 years and therefore, they were outsmarted by the investor.
The former Busia
Resident District Commissioner, Hussein Kato Matanda and a Turkish
investor have denied harassing artisanal miners at Tiira gold mining site. The
mines sit on 16 hectares of land in Siduka Sub County in Busia district. It is home to hundreds of artisanal miners. However,
two associations of artisanal miners have accused Mustafa Semih Gecgil, a Turkish
investor and Matanda of harassment.
The accusations came up
during a meeting convened by the Natural Resources Committee of parliament on
Saturday involving members of Busia United Artisanal and Small Scale
Miners Association and Tiira Artisanal and Small Scale Miners
Association-TISMA. The artisanal miners said their trouble with Mustafa started
in 2017 when he allegedly connived with some leaders of TISMA to register it as
a company and gained a stake of 49% on the location license.
The Mining Act, 2003
provides that only nationals can get location licenses or own 51% of a mining
company. TISMA claims that some members were left out of the deal and
have since been denied access to the mining site. Mustafa allegedly
fell out with the landlord, a one Monday Odima, who he claims gave him
surface rights for 50 years after paying Shillings 150million.
He sued Odima for fraudulently selling the same land to four
other people despite signing an agreement that also gave Odima 50% of proceeds
from gold sales. Mustafa blamed his trouble on a mafia led by a one Johnny
Sasirwe that is manipulating landlords and artisanal miners to frustrate his investment.
//Cue in: "I talked to...
Cue out...Johny Sasirwe."//
The miners also accused Mustafa of having connived with
government officials including Matanda to deploy the army at the Tiira mining
site, a claim the now Kumi RDC has denied.
Matanda says he
intervened in the matter after realizing that speculators and a mafia were
using artisanal miners to threaten and also frustrate Mustafa from mining at
//Cue in: "This is a...
Cue out:...have the documents,"//
In 2017, Matanda says he bought 50 shares worth
Shillings 500,000 from TISMA Company and is thereby Mustafa’s
business partner. He however, says this doesn’t not tantamount to
conflict of interest because he has a right to do business as a Ugandan.
//Cue in: "By the way...
Cue out:...my share certificate."//
TISMA Chairperson, George Kwemboi told MPs that
Mustafa has harassed artisanal miners because of support from Matanda and
outgoing Energy Minister, Irene Muloni.
//Cue in: "The RDC Matanda...
Cue out:....to get licence."//
Mathias Aroba, another TISMA
member, says they have not mined gold this year because Mustafa sued
three landowners including Umaru Opachet, Ali Odima and Monday Odima at Mbale High
Court. The process is still going on.
Josephine Agutu, the TISMA Secretary
of, says that most of the artisanal miners in Tiira are women, saying they
fight Mustafa until they get back their mining rights. She says the miners disagreed with Mustafa in 2017 when he
manipulated some leaders in the association to register TISMA as a company.
//Cue in: "To be left...
Cue out:...want to benefit."//
The artisanal miners agreed with Aroba that amidst their
conflict with Mustafa, the Energy Ministry has never responded to their call
for help. However, Energy Ministry officials say TISMA gave 49%
of its shares to Mustafa as a partner.
Engineer Vincent Kedi, an engineer in the Directorate of
Geological surveys and Mines, says that at some sites, the landlords gave
Mustafa surface rights for 50 years and therefore, they were outsmarted by the
Kedi says that TISMA
members only informed the Ministry about the issue after disagreeing with
Mustafa, adding that they cannot intervene because the matter is before court.
//Cue in: "Me I call...
Cue out:..came to us."//
The Committee members
led by chairperson, Dr. Keefa Kiwanuka and his deputy, Andrew Kaluya however
said that both Matanda and Mustafa should appear before the committee to
respond to the allegations. Kaluya urged the miners to submit
documentary evidence to the committee.
//Cue in: "It is very....
Cue out:..tell the truth."//
Kiwanuka says the committee will summon Mustafa and Matanda
and engage the miners further to understand better what can be done to resolve
the conflict. He however, noted that miners have not been keen on
restoring pits, which could cave in in future.
/Cue in: "We are
Cue out:..in the area."//
Mustafa met Kiwanuka at Mbale Resort Hotel on
the sides of a two day workshop to defend himself and Matanda. He also submitted some documents to prove
that he has surface rights for Tiira gold mining site.
Kiwanuka says that visiting Tiira gold mining site and
engaging the artisanal miners will inform how they process three petitions from
evicted artisanal miners in Mubende and Buhweju and Bulambuli where there is
flooding due to open pits.
He however, lauded Busia miners for forming associations
and also working smoothly with the police and local authorities. He says that
in Buhweju and Mubende, police officers have been described as
"mining police" for forcefully evicting artisanal miners and engaging
in mining activities.