Parliamentary Police on Tuesday afternoon intervened to disperse a protest by artisanal gold miners from Mubende and Kassanda districts.
The small scale miners were apparently unhappy with remarks by State Minister for Mineral Development Hon Sarah Opendi, during an interface with the Natural Resources Committee.
Opendi was reporting on what the ministry had arrived at regarding the row involving the small scale miners and a private firm Anglo Ugandan Corporation (AUC) owned by Gertrude Njuba.
About a month ago, artisanal miners petitioned parliament saying the ten square kilometer area in Madudu sub county, Mubende district where they were relocated to make way for the company, had gold deposits.
This decision followed a presidential directive on April 6 2018 which tasked AUC to allocate 30% of their mining areas to artisanal miners who were evicted in 2017.
Addressing the MPs yesterday, Opendi lambasted the artisanal miners under their umbrella body Mubende United Miners Assembly (MUMA) for making demands without empirical evidence that their allocated area was barren.
“Seventeen samples over three square kilometers cannot be a basis for declaring such a huge area barren, let alone the remaining 50 square kilometers which remains largely unlicensed and no exploration work has been done over it,” she noted.
Opendi further observed that by petitioning without taking this into account they were trying to compromise the process or ‘flying before they can walk’.
This sparked an angry tirade from MUMA Chairperson John Bosco Bukya.
“It is very, very painful at this moment to see after brutal and heartless evictions of Ugandans, to see people acting in a brutal way in their offices,” an exasperated Bukya said.
“These places that were given to us were not our former working places. These are places where mining had never taken place and people were just growing maize,” he added further.
As a consequence of their displacement from their ancestral lands, Bukya disclosed that on a daily basis these small scale miners have now been rendered inactive and are at the mercy of land lords.
However, as they were about to exit parliamentary premises using the gate opposite National Theatre, they started bemoaning the ministry’s position which prompted security to intervene.