On October 3, 2022, Mr. Joseph Kabuleta, appeared on Radio Simba talk show “Olutindo” where he made various allegations to wit:
That there is unfair compensation for people along the oil and gas pipeline project, especially in Buliisa District, by Government which has caused hunger, famine and unemployment in the Bunyoro Sub-region, yet in Tanzania, the PAPs have fully been compensated:
On this, first, we need to appreciate the fact that the people were indeed compensated. Compensation of Project Affected Persons (PAPs) is a process; it is not a one-day issue as Mr. Kabuleta wants to express. The process even provides for those wanting to appeal in case they feel that the process or figures are unfair. One is free to appeal or even resort to the Courts of Law. Government cannot take people’s land by force or without compensation.
Uganda is actually a liberal Government where citizens are compensated for right of way for public projects yet in other countries all land belongs to the Government and there is no compensation for land taken for such projects. Have Kabuleta’s complainants gone to court for redress or do they exist in his private records only?
Mr. Kabuleta alleges that H.E. The President and the First family have personalised natural resources like oil and gas for selfish interests; Here, we will need evidence. Show us the shares belonging to Mr. Museveni and the first family!
Secondly, if you have evidence in this regard, you are free to present this concern to the Courts of Law and even to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or any other avenue. Short of that, the former presidential candidate’s statement is intended to tarnish the image and record of the President and the first family, and in furtherance of his partisan political agenda. Having failed to convince Ugandans with his crafted manifesto, he has resorted to mudslinging.
Matters of oil and gas are matters that are fully discussed through the national entities such as the Parliament. Are you insinuating that all Members of Parliament (MPs), including those in opposition, betrayed Ugandans and handed Uganda’s oil and gas to the President and the first family for personal benefit? Does this sound like a credible query that even deserves to be heard on public radio?
The former journalist and churchman also stated that residents of Kibawe in Hoima District who were affected by the construction of the airport found it hard to get land titles such that they can be valued fairly and that only Government officials managed to get the land.
I wish to ask why Mr. Kabuleta is bringing up this issue at the tail-end of things when the airport construction is getting completed. Is it to divert the minds of people from the mega investment of the airport project and to fight the project at large? Why do I see a connection with foreigners who were targeting the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), to fail its construction, only to look at the argument when subject to the logical test of their allegations? We have agents around and we must be on the lookout as we push our beloved country, Uganda, into the fast tracked phase of development.
However, I need to state that obtaining a land title is a process and being as such, show us the stage at which the exercise failed and why! As a “son of the soil”, Kabuleta should have helped his people right at the beginning and brought this issue up then before the project reached advanced stages where it cannot and should not be interrupted. Bringing it up now when the airport is about to be handed over for use is suspicious and an indictment on the leadership credentials of the claimant.
Mr. Kabuleta advances the claim that the indigenous people of Bunyoro sub-region are denied well-paying jobs which instead go to people from other districts. Here, Mr. Kabuleta is promoting nepotism and thinking tribal rather than looking nationalistically. Where is it stated that jobs in a particular district go to indigenous citizens of that district? Are there no Banyoro working in other districts? Has Kabuleta worked in Bunyoro all his work life? When he was looking for votes, did he only campaign in Bunyoyo? I see him isolating himself from the reality that is a united Uganda under the very able leadership of President Yoweri Museveni. Imagine if Kabuleta had won and become the country’s leader. Tribalism would be the only ticket to employment and services!
And his claim must stand, then the Basoga and Baganda would also claim for the same-that no non-Musoga or non-Muganda must serve within their tribal territory. They would also prohibit, for instance, that power from the power dams constructed in their areas must be consumed by their people only.
No, these are national goods to benefit all Ugandans! These jobs are given on merit. If one qualifies, and they apply, appear and pass the interviews, then they are taken on. It is imperative to explain how the Banyoro are denied the jobs using clear facts, showing the trend, the particular actors behind the move and backed by motivating factors and actionable data. Besides, rather than express these concerns through the media, one can present them through the Inspectorate of Government or the Courts of Law to challenge the recruitment process or better still to take them to the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).
Yes, it’s okay for people to lobby for their own but it must be done with the consciousness of a united Uganda.
On the same talkshow, Mr. Kabuleta, claimed that Uganda will not benefit from the oil and gas project because the NRM Government has been selling crude oil secretly and that he sees trucks moving during the night carrying crude oil; I need to state that crude oil is such a heavy item that you cannot transport stealthily for an extended period of time without being traced. Even the roads would heave under its weight, leaving them in dire despair.
That is why the Government has emphasised construction of the pipeline to ease pressure on our road infrastructure. I would challenge Mr. Kabuleta to bring footage of CCTV cameras (whether Government or private) along the routes to prove his allegation. Do these cameras show anything of what he is describing? Please, get us this footage and we will start from here! Even eye witnesses would do. Does Mr. Kabuleta still harbour the old mentality of thinking that during night time anyone can commit crime and escape? That is very old thinking and shows someone lacking imagination. Maybe that is why the Government at times ignores such people; their claims can be so ridiculous that they don’t deserve responses but out of respect for our general public, I have come out on their behalf.
Her went on and claimed that over 200 people have been killed in Bunyoro sub-region, arguing that Oil refineries are associated with human rights violations citing the case of Nigeria’s Ken Saro Wiwa who was brutally killed in the 1990s because of his environmental activism; I wish to challenge Mr. Kabuleta to produce this list of the persons murdered to prove his case.
By saying this, you are trying to tarnish the image of the Government and giving more ground to the distorted assertions of the European Union (EU) Parliament on EACOP. Please, show us the names of the deceased and their families! Indeed, the security agencies should pick interest in this matter which is aimed at undermining Government’s efforts in rebuilding the economy and sowing seeds of hatred and insurgency. Security agencies should demand for this list and expose those that may found answerable!
Bringing in the Nigerian scenario of Ken Saro Wiwa is an attempt to “import” evidence in a futile attempt to stir emotions. This is Uganda, not Nigeria! Saro Wiwa was tried by the court of the day in his home country, fairly or not, and executed publicly. Has anyone been executed in Uganda for standing up for human rights, more so to do with oil and gas developments? Can we have the names?
During the EACOP saga, residents in the oil basin came out to defend the human rights record of sector developments in Uganda. If there are any violations, they can be reported with Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) or court for redress but not lamenting in the media or reporting to foreigners. Begging for freebies can be done another way!
On the allegation that Uganda has for a period of three to four years been selling in excess of US 1bn of gold to Dubai and that there is no accountability for it to the general public; you need to silence us with facts. How does that business run and what makes him sure that proceeds are not captured in national financial records? What is special with the gold trade that transactions cannot be tabulated as with coffee, tea and other goods?
I would advise Mr. Kabuleta to come clear if he wishes to retain any integrity and trust from the people. The Ugandan public is not all that “green” as some think; they operate with a great deal of logic and scientific analysis unlike in the past. They can cross check for themselves from international and local sources and sieve fact from fiction. Uganda’s gold trade is subject to audit procedures and complies with regulations of the International Financial system which is very sensitive to illicit trade of any kind. This claim ties in with the one on the ghost oil trucks. It doesn’t make sense unless the alleger can substantiate.
Mr. Kabuleta stated that the discovery of minerals in Uganda is a curse to ordinary citizens alleging that when gold was discovered in Mayuge and Namisindwa Districts, the Government started arresting and killing people accusing them of being part of ADF rebels; and that 53 people were killed and several others chased from their land without compensation in Sebei Sub-region where oil and gold were discovered I wish to ask him to provide us with a list of persons that have been arrested and killed on those grounds.
How many inmates are in prison cells because minerals were discovered in their areas? Has gold only come to be discovered in Mayuge, Namisindwa and Sebei? There is gold in Bihanga (Ibanda) and Buhweju among other places in Western region. Have they also come to be persecuted for that? Uganda is a mineral-rich country, have citizens all been branded ADF? I may ask, are these peasants who are arrested or killed the only ones owning land where there are minerals? How is it with the others who are still mining; can we know the families of the victims and how many they are? This is a very laughable but serious allegation that not only seeks to annoy Ugandans but also seeks to air brush acts of insurgency. Doesn’t ADF actually exist? And if the head of the ADF, Mr. Jamil Mukulu, was arrested and has not been killed, how about the innocent peasants referred to? Wouldn’t we have just had them slaughtered enmass?
The Courts and Uganda Prisons Services should explain to the public if there are any such inmates linked to “mineral discovery”, even if just to allow Mr. Kabuleta “a hearing”.
Lastly, Kabuleta claimed that people who were murdered in Masaka district last year were accused of stealing money meant for compensation because they were living along the demarcation of the proposed oil and gas pipeline. Another irresponsible allegation, I would say! Is fraud treated by killing the culprits or they are arrested, tried and sentenced accordingly if found guilty? Can he provide a record of who was killed and what amounts they were accused of swindling? Who are the complainants?
In conclusion, I am nearly lost for words living in a country where the gift of democracy and freedom of expression is misconstrued for freedom to act anyhow and say anything. This is not a lawless country. Mr. Kabuleta, his hatred for President Museveni notwithstanding, should act like the churchman we knew him to be and speak facts or say nothing. He will be set free! For now, he is tied in a psyche of lies.
Faruk Kirunda is the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary