Ugandans Abroad: Nkata, Mayanja Fall as Birungi Reaps Big

The Bugala Farmers Association has called on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to sever its ties with Bidco Africa, page a Kenya-based edible oil producer accused of land-grabbing, drug human rights violations and environmental disasters in Uganda, purchase Kenya and Tanzania.

Over 100 farmers lost their land to Bidco when, in partnership with the local government, the company deforested more than 7,500 hectares (18,500 acres) of rain forest and smallholder farms on Bugala Island on Lake Victoria to make way for one of the largest palm oil plantations in Africa.

In a petition delivered to the UNDP Kampala office on 28 January, the Bugala Farmers Association called on the UNDP to investigate the organisation’s recent announcement that Business Call to Action (BCtA), a UNDP offshoot, concluded an agreement with Bidco Africa.

“For those who know the real business practices of Bidco Africa and its CEO Vimal Shah, the embrace by BCtA of Bidco Africa is a tragedy for smallholder farmers and a major stain on the reputation of UNDP,” the petition says.

The petition cites Bidco Africa’s failure to comply with court orders to compensate the farmers for their land; the company’s labour practices in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya; alleged tax evasion in Kenya; and the deforestation of land for its palm oil production in Uganda.

The deforestation has become so bad that the World Bank, originally a sponsor of the project, had to withdraw its support.

“The Bugala Farmers Association calls on UNDP and its senior leadership to examine the morally questionable association of such a distinguished U.N. organisation with such a blatant violator of human rights that is Bidco Africa,” the petition says.

Bidco, owned by the family of billionaire manufacturer Vimal Shah, has come under heavy criticism over allegations of land grabbing and displacement of thousands of people in Kalangala District of Uganda.

The firm uses the harvest as raw materials for the production of edible oils that are sold across Eastern Africa.

The Ugandan government recently said it was solely responsible for the acquisition of the land for the project.

“This was our exclusive role as per the partnership agreement,” officials said in 2015.

Business practices

However, according to the petition, “The evidence of Bidco Africa’s poor business practices is well documented, and UNDP must immediately disassociate itself with such a company.”

The petition continues: “Bidco Africa, which claims to adhere to the U.N. Global Compact, is in fact in violation of all U.N. Global Compact principals, from human rights to protection of the environment. Against the backdrop of such repeated violations, the UNDP/BCtA’s partnership with Bidco Africa is a violation of UNDP’s core mission and principals.”

When the farmers presented their petition at the UNDP office in Kampala, security officers blocked them at the compound gate and confiscated video filmed by accompanying media. UNDP officials refused to meet the farmers, and suggested that the petition – which is addressed to UNDP Administrator Helen Clark – could only be delivered at the organisation’s headquarters in New York City.

Only after a four-hour wait was the petition officially received by a UNDP receptionist in Kampala.

In addition to Administrator Clark, the petition is addressed to Peter Liria, Chief Ethics Officer, Director of the Ethics Office; Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Director Regional Bureau for Africa; and Mila Rosenthal, Director of Communications; among others.

The UNDP has not responded to the farmers’ petition since it was presented on 28 January.
It was a weekend characterized with extreme political hysteria in the country, ambulance less of sports action in the domestic sports league but nevertheless, ailment several compatriots were on duty outside the boarders.

Two Ugandan tacticians; Paul Nkata and Jackson Mayanja suffered identical 2-0 losses with Tusker FC and Simba SC in the Kenya and Tanzania premier leagues respectively. The loss was first one for both managers in their new capacities.

The Nkata led side fell to two late goals from John Makwatta and Joseph Kuria in a what was a dull and boring match against army side Ulinzi FC in Machakos. The brewers had earlier on picked three points from Thika United in the opening game. Both Shafik Batambuze and Fred Nkata featured in the loss.

In Tanzania, hospital things went awry for ‘Mia Mia’ losing his first derby after a run of seven games unbeaten. The recent explicit form of Cranes striker Hamis ‘Diego’ Kizza could not count in this one as the Msimbazi outfit has to endure 65 with a man less after defender Abdi Banda was sent just after 25 minutes.

In other games, KPL champs Gormahia fc missed the services of left winger Godfrey Walusimbi’s due to a knee injury as they were held by league newbies Posta Rangers in Nairobi. Khalid Aucho was in.

Birungi double
Michael Birungi proved his worth at Sudanese side Al Khartoum Al Watani with a brace on Saturday away to Al Amir. The Khartoum club climbed to the second place behind El Merreikh.

Monday fixture.
Former SC Victoria University Yakubu Ramadhan and Allan Kateregga have been handed their debut for new home AFC Leopards who take on Sony Sugar on Monday in Nairobi.

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