By Spy Uganda
President Museveni has withheld his assent and sent the Museum and Monuments Act 2022 back to Parliament for reconsideration.
The Museum and Monuments Act, which seeks to consolidate and reform the law relating to cultural and natural heritage; to strengthen the administrative structures for the effective management of the cultural and natural heritage subsector was passed in September.
Presiding over the plenary sitting of Parliament on Tuesday 29 November 2022, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Thomas Taybewa, read out the President’s letter giving his reservations to the Act declaring Kilembe Mines a protected area.
President Museveni said that Kilembe Mines Limited held a mining license and that the company is a state enterprise with majority public ownership. He added that the mine, known for copper and cobalt exploration, has been recently revamped and therefore, declaring it protect would hurt its operations.
“The government has invested in developing the mine into a fully commercial project therefore, it does not fit the description of a protected area and should be deleted from the bill,” he said in the letter.
The President also requested that Acherer Gold Mine in Nakapiripirit is struck off the list of protected areas because it possesses a mining license. He further stated that consultation should be done with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development before declaring mining sites protected areas.
President Museveni noted in his letter that only part of Panyimur Sub-County in Pakwach District which is a fossil site should be protected not the entire sub-county.
He stated that there is an area in Panyimur sub-county where the Ministry of Energy is studying as a potential geo-thermal site and should therefore be excluded from being a protected area.
The President further requested Parliament to amend the definition of a mineral and mineral right in the bill to be compliant with the Constitution and the Mining and Minerals Act.
The President urged that the bill makes provision for extensive consultation with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development; Department of Museum and Monuments and the Ministry of Wildlife and Antiquities for better coordination of mineral exploration and protection of the country’s natural physical features and heritage.
Deputy Speaker, Tayebwa referred the Bill to the Committee on Trade, Tourism and Industry for reconsideration and report back to the plenary in two weeks.
He noted his concern with the Cabinet’s contradictory nature of operation, saying that these issues should not be coming up because the Cabinet originated the Bill, which was passed with minimal input.
He asked the Prime Minister to harmonise relevant ministries before approving bills in Cabinet and bringing them to Parliament.