Torit1955’s Weblog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Archive for the ‘Land and Natural Resources’ Category

South Sudan:Juba squatters’ demolition to begin within days says GoSS official

leave a comment »

Tuesday 20 January 2009 06:00.

By James Gatdet Dak January

19, 2009 (JUBA) – Demolition of squatters targeting a number of residential areas in the Southern Sudan’s capital, Juba, will begin before the end of this month, a senior official said today. The Central Equatoria state governor, Maj. Gen. Clement Wani Konga has announced that the demolition exercise was aimed at immediate recovery of grabbed land by unauthorized squatters, saying it was in accordance with the town’s Master Plan. This phase of demolition exercise will target the residential areas of ‘Juba Na-Bari’, which is popularly known as ‘Tongpiny’ located north of the town, ‘Mere Lotor’, also popularly known as ‘Jebel Dinka’, west of the town and squatters surrounding the Mouseleum of late Dr. John Garang as well as some petrol stations placed in residential areas. The supervision of the bulldozing exercise will involve the Survey Department and several organized forces that will include Joint Integrated Units (JIUs), Military Police and some Legal Advisors. The demolition of the squatters in Juba, which also serves as the capital of Central Equatoria state government, is expected to affect thousands of people in the town. It is not clear how the affected residents will cope up with the situation or whether the government has a plan to relocate them to other new residential areas. The areas targeted are predominantly occupied by citizens from other states who put up illegally in those areas and could not legally obtain plots because of unsettled misunderstandings over the issues of jurisdictions and land ownership among different levels of government and local communities in Juba. (ST)

Written by torit1955

January 20, 2009 at 6:15 am

Malakal Clashes:South Sudan won’t taste peaceful co-existence with this illusive mentality

leave a comment »

By: Reverend Daniel A. Odwel, Malakal

JAN. 17/2009, SSN; Tribes in south Sudan seem unaware about their true
enemy, many people think that their enemy is the Arab (Jallaba) but the
truth of the matter is that our enemy is our illusive mentality of
tribalism disease that is more destructive than the liberation war we
fought for a period of more then fifty years. To me all lives which were
lost during that devastating war were lost for nothing, because history
seems to repeat itself.

Why, during Addis Ababa Agreement Dinka brought division in Juba which
was called Kokora that resulted from their mismanagement, nepotism,
discrimination, favoritism, and claim that they were born to rule?

The same problems which occurred in the eighties are happening today in
South Sudan. People fought the liberation war with hope that Dinka would
have learnt from previous mistakes but that assumption was in vain.
Therefore, the question which needs to be answered is this: did we fight
the deadly war with the so-called Arabs from the North so that Dinka can
have control over every piece of land in south wherever they wish?

The Dinka slogan that said they were ”born to rule” is a great
obstacle; if it isn’t going to be buried nothing will make the South to
progress and achieve any development. The unity will be impossible and
separation will be more impossible. Many ethnic communities in South
Sudan now become more skeptical about the behaviors of Dinka. Others may
decide to join the common enemy to let instability to continue, for
there is no point to remain under Dinka yoke. We are all aware that
every family had paid a price in liberation war. How come one ethnic
community dominates the affairs of the south?

The problem in Malakal goes back to early eighties, when the
commissioner of Jongelei Province, Michael Mario, claimed that his
border with Upper province is in the middle of River Sobat. This
aggressive ambition fuelled up Dinka to think that all Collo land in
west side of Sobat belonged to Jieng.

In order to avoid clashes between the two communities who’ve lived in
peace for long, I wrote an open letter in 2006 to the President of
Southern Sudan Government to defuse the tension, which was caused by
commander George Athor in refusing Collo not to construct their houses
while he allowed Dinka to build in Collo lands. But up to this moment
the President of GOSS, Salva Kiir, did not take any step to resolve the
problem.

Dinka who migrated to Collo land during the war era refused to go back
to their home areas because of misinterpreting the article in the
interim constitution of Southern Sudan, which says ‘any citizen has a
right to live wherever he or she wished.’ But critically, the article
did not allow any citizen to confiscate the land or displace the
original owners of the land.  Indeed, the wrong interpretation of the
laws brings conflict and war.

For your information, the Collo communities west side of Sobat River and
east side of the White Nile south of Malakal were denied to go back to
their homeland, with the ill-intended argument that these places were
still military zones. But the question which needs to be answered is why
did Dinka community build in those places under protection of SPLA?

The described locations now are claimed by Jongelei state to be part of
their territory. Does it mean Dinka have their own border demarcation
given to them by GOSS which is not known to other communities ?

Now, what is the logic for Dinka to claim ownership of Malakal and ask
Collo to leave, “if not they will face the consequences?”

Another evil ambition practiced by Dinka is that on 22th December 2008,
Kurfolus and Atar Dinkas signed an agreement in Malakal indicating that
their County shall be renamed as Canal County and its headquarters will
be in Apew (Adhyithaing), a Collo land fifteen miles south of Malakal.

Up to this moment no government official challenged this move and this
decision was made under the watch of an MP from Juba Legislative
Assembly. Has he been mandated by the Assembly to do so? If answer is
‘Yes’, then the Legislative Assembly will be accountable for instability
and insecurity in Collo land, but if the answer is ‘No; then this MP
must be summoned by the House to give details about that agreement and
their decision of transferring their County to Collo land which is not
part of Jongelei territory.

What is happening now  in Malakal proves the hidden agenda of
transferring all Collo soldiers in SPLA in Upper Nile state to different
places and replacing them with Dinka soldiers to accomplish the goal of
confiscating the Collo Lands. It becomes very clear that the liberation
war was fought for Dinka welfare and not for the whole South benefit.

Ironically, during preparation for the Fourth CPA Celebration in
Malakal, Dinka were told by the organizing committee that they will lead
the procession. Politically, this implies that Malakal belongs to Dinka.
This ideology fueled up the tension that made Collo uncomfortable. When
the governor of Upper Nile state discovered that, he warned the
preparatory committee and cautioned them that this idea will jeopardize
the celebration, arguing that Malakal belongs to Collo and that they’d
lead the procession, but Dinka were not ready to admit that.

Indeed, before the celebration began the tension mounted up that forced
police to dispatch these two communities and prevent them from
participation in the celebration to avoid riots in stadium.
Nevertheless, police reaction brought more confusion, and many people
were injured. Both communities were banned from participating in the
celebration and, after police dispatched them, the celebrations went on
smoothly.

Shocking news emerged at 2:00 am on 10.1.2009 when Dinka slaughtered
Collo in cold blood in Anakadiar, where around 1800 houses were burnt
down and twelve people were killed and three people were injured. The
following day many people were rescued on their way to Malakal by the
army which was sent to search for missing people in nearby bushes.

Consequently, Anakadiar people have become homeless and displaced. This
human atrocity forced the government of Upper Nile to resettle displaced
inhabitants of Anakader in Malakal. Again, last Sunday Dinka burnt down
600 houses in Abanim and Lul killing three people.

By killing Collo, Dinka want to confirm that they’re the masters of
south and they can do whatever they wish, and they did it in the eyes of
the President of GOSS. They want to affirm that Malakal belongs to them
and all Collo on Eastern side of White Nile must evacuate as they
indicated in their memo, which they wrote last October, 2008.
Presumably, the President of Southern Sudan is aware about that claim.

Collo community has full right to revenge, for they have been keeping
quite waiting with hope that the government will intervene to defuse the
situation, but the waiting seems to be in vain. The Collo will take
position of defending themselves from Dinka aggression.

Mr. President of southern Sudan government, your silence may imply that
you’ve sided with your community, which is toxic to co-existence in
southern Sudan. Surely we would like to assure you that the CPA is going
to be in danger, and you will be blamed for that.

There is no way other communities protect the CPA and Dinka dismantle it
with their assumption that they are people who liberated those lands.
This claim is untrue because all families participated in that
liberation war. Collo is going to retaliate for the great lost of lives,
Collo were so keen to keep Malakal in peace despite the fact that they
are still displaced in their home lands by Dinka community who murdered
them in cold blood.

We’ve been protecting the CPA since it was signed but Dinka thought we
were not sensing what they’re practicing at national, regional and even
at state levels. War in Malakal will affect everyone whether in
Khartoum, Juba or abroad because this war will be between two elephants
and ‘the grass’ is going to suffer.

To prevent the escalation of the war in Malakal, the President of the
GOSS must act immediately without wasting more time. The instigators
must be brought to justice, and the government must announce that
Malakal belongs to its original inhabitants who’re Collo. Any community
living within Collo lands must leave to their home towns without any
condition.

Disarmament of all communities must be ensured to avoid further blood
shed of innocent people. All soldiers who’re involved in that killing
must be punished, and people who lost their lives and property must be
compensated.

Written by torit1955

January 17, 2009 at 9:53 am

Frontier spirit embraces risks of south Sudan

leave a comment »

By Javier Blas and William Wallis
Financial Times (UK) 10 jan
There are few regions in Africa as remote and undeveloped as southern
Sudan. Unity state, where Philippe Heilberg says he has secured a huge
tract of arable land, is inaccessible even by south Sudan’s standards.
Aside from AK-47s, it was deprived of most of the trappings of the
modern world. Even a road network that has been under construction since
2005, when a peace agreement ended the long civil war between the
predominately Muslim north and the Christian and animist south of the
country, has yet to reach it. But Unity state does border the White Nile
and its flat, arable land could, with billions of dollars of investment
in irrigation and roads, be transformed into a world-class bread basket.
As commodity prices spiked last year, Gulf countries poured hundreds of
millions of dollars into securing land in the fertile Nile valley
farther north to grow food crops for exporting home.
Mr Heilberg is convinced that demand for land is now gravitating south.
Other experts say investors are scouting out opportunities in the south,
albeit on a far less ambitious scale. That is despite imprecise land
laws and the risk of a new civil war should the oil-rich south vote for
independence in a planned referendum in 2011.
Mr Heilberg has experience in commodities markets on Wall Street and in
Asia. To help him as he looks for opportunities in Africa, he has pulled
together a board at his US-based investment vehicle, Jarch Capital,
which includes Middle East, Africa and security experts with years of
experience at the Pentagon, CIA, White House and state department.
He is of a resurgent class of western businessman drawn to the potential
of Africa’s remaining frontiers, who have been energised by Asia’s
appetite for the continent’s natural resources.
Sudan experts familiar with his business strategy liken him to
buccaneering capitalists such as Sweden’s late Adolph Lundin, who
acquired mining and oil concessions in Congo and Sudan while civil wars
were still raging and turned huge profits when he sold them on.
In both countries, however, legal wrangling has often prevented mineral
concessions from becoming productive. Mr Heilberg has experience of this
problem after being embroiled in a dispute with the south Sudan
government over oil exploration rights also claimed by other companies.
Some experts on Sudan believe his 400,000 hectares will face a similar
fate and that his ultimate strategy is to trade whatever claim he can
sustain over the land to investors with a greater capacity to develop
it. He says the land has great potential for biofuels and food crops and
is looking for joint venture partners.
He insists the law is less important to his deal than the clout he has
bought into by associating with a former warlord, Paulino Matip, whose
family says it owns some of the land in Mayom county, in Unity state.
“I never understood why the oil industry could spend $1bn drilling dry
holes but they do not want to take a single dollar in legal risks,” Mr
Heilberg told the FT.
Mr Matip fought with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement against the
northern army before gaining notoriety during a bloody civil war episode
when he switched sides to form his own militia, with backing from parts
of his Nuer tribe and the Khartoum regime. “I am sure Paulino has killed
many, but I am sure he done it in protection of his people,” Mr Heilberg
says.
Following the 2005 peace agreement his forces were appeased when he was
brought in as deputy commander in the army of the autonomous south.
Mr Matip’s son Gabriel, who controls the company in which Jarch has
bought a majority stake, said he had negotiated with tribal leaders to
secure access to more land. He said the company also had the agreement
of the ministry of agriculture in south Sudan for the development of the
land.

Written by torit1955

January 14, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Land Grabing?Former Wall Street banker Philippe Heilberg gambles on a warlord’s continuing control of 400,000 hectares of land in South Sudan

leave a comment »

Former Wall Street banker Philippe Heilberg gambles on a warlord’s continuing control of 400,000 hectares of land in South Sudan Financial Times report by Javier Blas and William Wallis in London January 10 2009:

A US businessman backed by former CIA and state department officials says he has secured a vast tract of fertile land in south Sudan from the family of a notorious warlord, in post-colonial Africa’s biggest private land deal. Philippe Heilberg, a former Wall Street banker and chairman of New York-based Jarch Capital, told the Financial Times he had gained leasehold rights to 400,000 hectares of land – an area the size of the emirate of Dubai – by taking a majority stake in a company controlled by the son of Paulino Matip. Mr Matip fought on both sides in Sudan’s lengthy civil war but became deputy commander of the army in the autonomous southern region following a 2005 peace agreement. The deal, between Mr Heilberg’s affiliate company in the Virgin Islands and Gabriel Matip, is a striking example of how the recent spike in global commodity food prices has encouraged foreign investors and governments to scramble for control of arable land in Africa. In contrast to land deals between foreign investors and governments, Mr Heilberg is gambling on a warlord’s continuing control of a region where his militia operated in the civil war. “You have to go to the guns: this is Africa,” Mr Heilberg said by phone from New York. He refused to disclose how much he had paid for the lease. Jarch Management Group is linked to Jarch Capital, a US investment company that counts on its board former state department and intelligence officials, including Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador and expert on Africa, who acts as vice-chairman; and Gwyneth Todd, who was an adviser on the Middle East and north Africa at the Pentagon and under Bill Clinton at the White House. Laws on land ownership in south Sudan remain vague and have yet to be clarified in a planned land act. Some foreign experts on Sudan as well as officials in the regional government, speaking on condition of anonymity, doubted Mr Heilberg could assert legal rights over such a vast tract of land. The deal is second only in size to the recent lease of 1.3m hectares by South Korea’s Daewoo from the government of Madagascar. Mr Heilberg is unconcerned. He believes that several African states, Sudan included, but possibly also Nigeria, Ethiopia and Somalia, are likely to break apart in the next few years and that the political and legal risks he is taking will be amply rewarded. “If you bet right on the shifting of sovereignty then you are on the ground floor. I am constantly looking at the map and looking if there is any value,” he said. He was also in contact with rebels in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, dissidents in Ethiopia and the government of the breakaway state of Somaliland, among others. Mr Heilberg said Jarch had no agricultural expertise but would seek joint-venture partners to cultivate the land, which is in one of the remotest parts of Sudan, in a region bordering the White Nile and with no tarred roads.

Written by torit1955

January 11, 2009 at 6:52 pm

S. Sudan evicts civil servants from hotels to cut costs

leave a comment »

c

S. Sudan evicts civil servants from hotels to cut costs
Written by Badru Mulumba
January 1, 2009: As the hospitality industry in Juba ushered the new year with pomp and pageantry, what was in the mind of many officials was how to cushion  the industry from losses in the coming year.

The Government of Southern Sudan on Wendesday ordered eviction of all public servants accommodated in hotels by January 1, 2009, a move industry players see as a blow to the struggling industry.

The order, triggered by partly the world’s economic crisis, is likely to leave some hotels reeling from losses moving into 2009, as reduced competition sets off a drop in room prices. But it could also spark a rise in housing prices in a city that doesn’t have many housing structures.

Hotels and accommodation sites in Juba generally depend on the government staff—from directors to  their assistants at ministries — for their earnings, for up to $300 a night.

“All the employees who are being accommodated in the hotels have to leave immediately,” said Finance Minister Kuol Athain. “By January 1, 2009, nobody will be accommodated in the hotels.”

The decision to house government staff in hotels was taken during an extraordinary ministerial meeting in March 2006. Five decades of civil war, with the latest round lasting 21 years, wiped out most of the infrastructure in Southern Sudan, leaving government staff with no houses.

But many Sudanese say the staff has stayed too long in hotels, and that the government should have taken the initiative to build houses for its employees  and improve living conditions of the ordinary people instead of wasting public money.

However, Finance minister Kuol Athain said the estates have never been constructed because there was no Land Act.

Land is still a touchy issue in Sudan, but the Land Act that was recently passed is expected to streamline land issues.

In a circular issued on the eve of 2009, by the Ministry of Public Service, undersecretaries are also directed to stop payment to hotels.

“They must forthwith stop paying GoSS employees resident in hotels with immediate effect,” according to the circular, signed by Martin Elia Lomuro, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister and currently acting Public Service Minister.

“Failure to comply with the resolutions of the GoSS, as reinforced by this ministerial order, implies corrupt indulgence and constitutes a serious violation punishable by law.”

The circular also asks hotel managers in Juba to immediately provide the ministry with the particulars of government employees in hotels, including payment details, within 72 hours from the date of issuance of the order. The government says the eviction plan would “protect the inalienable right of the people of Southern Sudan to good governance.”

It was not immediately clear how much the government hoped to save  from the eviction plan– and the finance minister said ministries often pay the bill through different accounts, making it hard to approximate the cost.

“It depends on ministry by ministry that are paying,” Mr Athain said. “But we are going to save a lot of money.”

But while the circular was issued December 31, the decision to evict staff from hotels was taken by the ministerial order passed in November.

Written by torit1955

January 4, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Case Study from Uganda:Land (Amendment) Bill will divide Uganda, literally

leave a comment »

Land (Amendment) Bill will divide Uganda, literally

Livingstone Okello-Okello

Since the National Resistance Movement (NRM) shot its way to power in 1986, the land question has exercised the minds of Ugandans. The country has moved from one land controversy to another, ranging from the grabbing of private ranches to sub-dividing Lake Mburo National Park to the invasion of the east, north, central and part of the west by Balaalo herdsmen, to the Land (Amendment) Bill 2007, the land give –aways to the Temangalo land saga!

The concerns of the people of Uganda are not misplaced. To the majority of Ugandans, land is not just a factor of production. Land is the only means of survival; it is life; it is culture and above all, land is the basis of all power. It, therefore, follows that whoever wants to take away or grab your land, wants to take away your power and bring you under his/her direct control. In short, to enslave you.

As far as land is concerned, the behaviour of the NRM government is not completely different from that of the colonialists, who on arrival in Africa did everything they could to gain control of the best lands, using their powers to suppress and push the ‘natives’ to marginal areas. This happened in many countries including Azania (South Africa), Zimbabwe and Kenya. Land in Uganda is privately owned. It is difficult to understand why government insists that land should be its major pre-occupation.

The colonialists who took over the best lands in Africa did not do so without meeting some resistance. For example, the Chief of Khoi in Western Cape, in a land dispute with Jan Van Riebeeck, the first colonialist to arrive in Azania in 1652, asked: “who … with the greatest degree of justice, should give way to land; the natural owner or the foreign invader?”

Again in 1859 King Moshoeshoe had this to say: “I consider it most barbarous custom to alienate the land of the nation which they hold sacred. To us, all the property reared or nurtured on the land stolen from us, remains our property…”

Similar resistance to colonialists was put up here in Uganda. Omukama Kabalega of Bunyoro fought to the last drop of his blood; in Acholi, two clans, Lamogi and Paimol fought the white men and many people were killed.

The controversial Land (Amendment) Bill 2007 will soon be part of our laws despite an overwhelming opinion that it should be halted to give time for more consultation and the formulation of a land policy. Its sailing through Parliament can be taken for granted for basically one reason only: the enormous concentration of power in the Head of State, which makes it appear to me that Uganda is once again being ruled by decree, albeit indirectly. If the President decrees to the NRM caucus, who are the majority in Parliament and the caucus ratifies that decree on the floor of Parliament, what does it mean?

And yet the Land (Amendment) Bill 2007 if passed into law as it is, will divide the country down the middle. Those in customary land areas, about three-quarters of the country, will not accept the law. Equally, those in mailo land areas will as well reject the law, because it nationalises their interests in land without compensation. Any law which does not find acceptance among the citizenry will remain a dead law on the shelf. Idi Amin’s Land Reform Decree of 1975 is a good example.

The Bill is a clear indication that there is a north-south evil axis on land.
It should, however, be pointed out that more often than not, controversial land policy, land law or land grabbing results in loss of life. Examples are many in land studies. I will only mention two to illustrate the point.

The Land Law 1908, enacted by the Lukiiko imposed restrictions on the mailo owner’s ability to dispose of his land to one who was not of the Protectorate such as churches, foreign companies and other societies, except with the approval of the Lukiiko and the Governor. The mailo owner was also prohibited from leasing his land to one who was not of the Protectorate for a longer period than “one European year,” except with similar approval.

On July 25, 1945 Katikiro Martin Luther Nsibirwa, announced in a statement to the people of Buganda that a Bill had been tabled in Lukiiko for the sale of 2,200 acres of land at Namulonge to a British Company called Empire Cotton Growing Corporation (ECGC). The land was occupied by some small-holding families.

This Bill caused a lot of controversy and debate in Buganda, just like the Land (Amendment) Bill 2007 has done.

In spite of this, Lukiiko went ahead and in the afternoon of September 4, 1945 passed the Bill into law, sparking off spontaneous protests and demonstrations almost throughout Buganda. The demonstrators in Kampala mounted broadcasts on motorcycles and trucks and moved in all directions with the message. “They have sold the land”.

Within less than 24 hours from the passage of the Bill, the Katikiro was dead. His assassin, George William Semakula, a displaced lorry driver, shot him four bullets at close range in the morning of September 5, 1945 as he was about to enter Namirembe Cathedral for early morning prayers. Semakula was later arrested and arraigned in court charged with murder. His plea that he did not know how to shoot a gun did not save his life. He was punished with death.

In 1966, Dr Louis Leakey, a renown wildlife conservationist, invited Dian Fossy, a nurse from the United States of America to come to Africa and be in charge of mountain gorillas in the Virunga Forest, shared by Uganda, Rwanda and Zaire (now DR Congo). She came and stationed herself on the Rwanda side of the forest.

Dian Fossy soon clinched a financial deal with National Geographic Society for purchase of gorilla pictures at prices varying from $50 to $200 a piece. Any article she wrote about mountain gorillas and was published in a magazine or newspaper would fetch her $2,000.
As the business became more and more lucrative, Dian Fossy, without any authority, grabbed large chunks of land on the Rwanda side, bordering the forest for the expansion of the gorilla park. She then “persuaded” the gorillas on the Rwanda side to move to this newly “acquired” land.

When this was done, she attracted colonies of gorillas from both Uganda and Zaire (Congo) side to cross the borders and occupy the areas formerly occupied by the gorillas moved inside Rwanda.

Soon, stiff competition for land ensued between the gorillas and the people of Rwanda. The people of Rwanda having discovered that the white woman had expanded the gorilla park without authority, constituted themselves into a village court, arrested, tried, convicted and punished Dian Fossy, a millionaire, by execution.

In conclusion, it suffices to say that under the NRM administration, the land sector is, by design, in crisis. If not handled properly, the land question may permanently divide the country. Some parts of the country may be forced to seek self-determination, which is a human right.

Mr Okello Okello is MP, Chua Consituency, Kitgum

Written by torit1955

December 15, 2008 at 3:25 pm

Sounds Familiar?The Madhivanis’ thirst for Land in Northern Uganda must be shelved

leave a comment »

Readers,

Obargot Paabwola, a Ugandan writing about land policy and economic governance in Uganda, thoroughly analyzed the land policy is Uganda which is skewed to privatization of land in Northern Uganda thus leading to dispossession of the local communities who are yet to recover from two-decades of war. This is an excellent case study to our policy makers in South Sudan as external investors such as UAE, Egypt, Chinese and British invetors are now shirting their investment focus to farming to underdeveloped counties such as Sudan, Madagascar and Uganda.

Administrator

The Madhivanis’ thirst for Land in Northern Uganda must be shelved

Monday 15 December 2008 03:11.

By Obargot Paabwola

December 15, 2008 — I must begin by making an apology to readers for the length of this article which I am putting together. I am writing this long article because the issue I am addressing is of extreme importance: the question of land giveaways in Uganda, especially the land in Northern Uganda – Amuru District – where it is being alleged, the government of Uganda is scheming to take land away from the displaced locals in the area and give it to the Madhivanis to establish sugar plantation. So bare with me, and please take the time to read what I am going to say because I strongly believe and very strongly suggest Amuru land should not be given to the Madhivanis. There are better ways of bringing about development in Northern and Eastern Uganda which apparently Museveni’s regime has overlooked due to corruption and miss-governance. For many Ugandans, the name Madhivani does not invoke a lot of search in the back of their minds to know who he is. The Madhivani business gurus have been in Uganda for very long time; as long as anyone of my generation or even of the generations before me can remember. The Kakira Sugar plantation in Jinja, Busoga District, is owned and run by the Madhivanis; they have been running this plantation for ages; probably close to a century. The only time when the Madhivanis ran into trouble runing their investments in Uganda it was when General Idi Amin came to power in 1971, and for his nationalist penchant, booted all East Indians out of the country by 1972. General Idi Amin may have been an illiterate leader, but when it comes to nurturing and empowering indigenous population, he may have blundered kicking the East Indians out of the country, but putting his action in context, at least he delivered compared to Museveni who has been in power for 23 years so far. To General Idi Amin, one may argue that economically, Ugandans came first no matter the consequences – Uganda economy basically collapsing under his leadership. However, despite the collapse, had he stayed away from using brute force on some sections of Ugandan populations out fear of their disloyalty to his government, and also not provoked Tanzania’s government by attacking it in late 1978, the general may not have died in exile in Saudi Arabia even if the economy of the country was collapsing around him. I am not Amin’s apologist by any stretch, but when it comes to economic nationalism, I believe the man did the right thing. After all, before 1972 Ugandans were basically beggars, literally, in their own country. Most businesses then were run by East Indians. Their businesses were well established; spread out into even small towns across the country. Some of them were even selling stuffs in local markets. The indigenous populations, whom then were not savvy enough – as far as business acumen is concern – were basically reduced to consumerists of the East Indian goods. Their local economic activities, the proceeds of which, ended up into the coffers of these East Indian business moguls, making these people richer and richer by the day while the natives, poorer and poorer. It was only after General Idi Amin booted the East Indians out of the country when Ugandans began to taste what it means to run their own economy. After the 1972 revolution which saw many East Indians driven out of the country, shop ownerships among the indigenous population spread like wildfire. From Kampala, the capital city, to small village centres across the country, shop owners became none other than the indigenous people. Many Ugandans, who plunged into businesses head-on, commenced acquiring wealth despite the fact that they were not savvy enough to conduct sound businesses. At the time, what was important to them was the fact that they were now running their own economy despite the inefficiencies and level of corruption; the rest did not count very much. The honey moon however was short lived. For, by 1986 when the NRA/M came to power, after fighting a five years guerilla war, the populations of Uganda were set to be disenfranchised once again. It was therefore not long after the NRA/M came to power that the same East Indians who had been booted off the country by General Idi Amin – most of them had taken up refuge and citizenships in countries like Britain, Canada, The US, Australia, et cetera, were invited to come back. Today Uganda economy is basically back in their hands. Some of them are now running big businesses in the country – virtually controlling the economy. The likes of the Madhivanis control sugar productions in the country almost exclusively. Given their extensive connections in countries like Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, The US, the indigenous population are no match to these people as long as there are no government intervention on behalf of the indigenes. Uganda economy is therefore falling back into their hands perfectly – just like it was before General Idi Amin booted them off the country. Taking advantage of the NRA/M disdain for Ugandans generally – considering that 23 years has elapsed without any tangible development in the country – the East Indians are wasting no time to disenfranchised Ugandans one more time, and the Madhivanis are at the forefront of these disenfranchisements. Not only are the indigenous populations being disenfranchised in the area of business, land as well is becoming a very contentious issue, for some of these people are now scheming on taking even land from the indigenous populations. Currently there are claims that the Madhivanis are now venturing further and deeper into the countryside; into places they never dreamt of establishing their Sugar plantation businesses in before. Of particular concern and the reason for this lengthy write-up is the question of Amuru land in Northern Uganda. There are of course land wrangles almost all over the country. For instance, in Buganda region, the Baganda are furious that the government of Museveni is trying to take their land away and give it off to foreign investors. Recall the contentious issue of Mabira forest land giveaway the galvanized almost the entire nation into action, protesting violently, the giveawy of which Museveni’s government had to back down? It is therefore a foregone conclusion that the fallouts from these land wrangles are going to be dire should the NRA/M government proceed to dispossess the population of the country of their land. In that light therefore, I will like to touch on the confrontation between Northern Ugandan population and Museveni’s regime, over the question of giving away Amuru land to the Madhivanis. The question of Amuru land thus far has been in the news for some time now despite the fact that the local population also, who have for the last 20 years suffered immensely due to the war between the NRA/M government and the LRA/M, made their position very clear they do not want their land given away to any foreign investors. Just like the Baganda in the South, the locals in the North are also furious and do not want their land tempered with or simply forcefully taken away from them and sold to foreign investors; at least not now. The important thing to note on this contentious issue is that what the Madhivanis and the government of Uganda are up to in Northern Uganda is, trying to buy off land from the locals, especially in Amuru District so that the subjugation and despoliation of the population in the region continues. Recall that these are people who have been under war for the last two decades and the entire populations were forcefully herded into camps. Recall also that the very tactics being used currently by the Democratic Republic of Congo rebels, the CNDP, of shooting on sight, any able bodied young men the rebels come across were also used by the NRA on the population of Northern and Eastern Uganda. I personally lost a few of my classmates that way; they were simply gun down because they were deemed potential recruits into the rebel ranks. With such gruesome crimes on the populations, why would someone want to take advantage of the population’s situation – majority of who still live in the dilapidated camps – and dispossess them of their ancestral land? There is nothing the government of Museveni is up to save, to try and take advantage of the diabolical situation in the region given the over 20 years of war that virtually rendered the entire population of Northern Uganda the poorest in the country, to dispossess them of their land. It appears, to the government, whatever the position of the people of Northern Uganda, the land must be taken away and given to the Madhivanis. The people of the North have made it abundantly clear, and on many occasion – through their leaders – that they do not want their land sold to any foreign investors! Members of parliament from the region have communicated this message many times to both the Madhivanis and the NRA/M government. Yet the government of Museveni keeps pushing the envelope so the land are taken away and given to the Madhivanis to establish a Sugar plantation in the area. What part of ’we do not want our land given to any foreign investors’ do the Musevenis and the Madhivanis not understand? The people of Northern Uganda have said “NO!” to this venture and that is what must count; not pushing the envelope and provoking the population. The bogus arguments by the Museveni’s regime that the government of Uganda in collaborations with other players are engaged in bringing in development through wooing foreign investors into the country to come and invest, are at best mediocre arguments. First of all, the Madhivanis have been in Uganda for almost a better part of a century. If foreign investors bring development into a country, what development have the Madhivanis brought, for instance, to Jinja municipality to begin with, let alone Busoga District where they own Kakira Sugar works and have owned it for decades? Despite years and years of running Kakira Sugar works, the Madhivani investments in Jinja have brought absolutely zero development in the area. Jinja infrastructures are still the same old infrastructure left behind by colonialists. The Owen falls dam for instance where hydro electric power station is built, and that supply the country with electricity – situated right beside Jinja town – is falling apart because of ware and tears. These ware and tears are the reasons why electricity supply in the country is quite erratic and in many cases, the country goes without electricity for weeks! Does it make sense that a country like Uganda, which has no manufacturing base that would consume high volume of electric supply, goes for weeks without electricity yet it has hydro electric power station situated in her second largest city? Also, poverty in Jinja and surrounding area are as high as that of Northern Uganda where 20 years of war has devastated the populations. Transportation alone is terribly lacking in Jinja. People who work in Kakira Sugar plantation cannot live in Jinja town; they must live in the plantation for various reasons including lack of adequate transport systems. What kind of foreign investors are the Musevenis and their NRA/M government talking about then when even streets in Kampala are potholed to the max, enough to attract foreign tourists? The merely labour employment in Kakira Sugar works cannot be considered gainful employment; their meager incomes don’t even contribute to one-tenth of Jinja economy. The overwhelming majority of the populations of Jinja who support Jinja economy do not work in the plantation. The plantation workers are merely people who are being used, abused and exploited by the Madhivanis. What kind of employment and development are the Musevenis talking of then with their grand plan to establish another plantation farm in Northern Uganda? There is no such thing as “foreign investors bring development in a country”. Such blanket statement is misleading. In UAE where foreign investments are bearing fruits, the foreign investments are carefully attracted and sedately designed and tailored – through rules and regulations – towards particular industries, in this case, promotion of tourism. Besides, the UAE had to make sure, by law, that their citizens are accorded utmost treatments such that when it comes to providing services, the UAE citizens must always come first. This means foreign investors must play by the rules or get kicked out of the country. Foreign investments in UAE are not merely wooed into the country in jumble; they are tailored for particular industries, while the government of UAE handles the rest of the economic sectors. This is true as well of Macao in the Philiphines. Foreign investments in Macao are tailored toward promoting tourism. Consequently most investments in that Island are directed towards putting in place infrastructure that support gaming and casino industry. If you look at Macao and UAE economies today, you will find that they are the fastest growing. This is because of prioritizing foreign investments based on the locations and situations of these countries. In Africa, leaders like Museveni would rather, foreign investments be invited anyhow, and are granted rights in all sectors. Governments therefore absolve themselves of any responsibilities to their citizens. Yet foreign investors always work to maximize their profits and not to cater for citizens of a country. Where laws are lax like in Uganda therefore, foreign investors do quickly take advantage of the laxity in laws to rapidly build their wealth. Whether citizens are suffering or not, is none of their business. That is why the plantation workers in Kakira Sugar works owned by the Madhivanis are suffering to this day under dilapidated working environment and meagre wages. For, as long as the Madhivanis pay whatever money they agreed to pay to the government, what they do with their plantation workers is none of the government’s business! That is why up to today, the plantation workers in Kakira Sugar works are still the same armies of poverty-stricken men and women who came from all over the country in search of employment many years past but ever since have never developed beyond cutting sugar cane in the plantation farm! Some of them have even failed, for all these many years, to travel to their home villages because they cannot afford transportation costs. How could they when Museveni’s regime has privatized public transport system as well? Despite the fact that these people are employed by the Madhivanis, their conditions have not changed in all these decades. The work environment has not changed; the pays are as meager as ever; probably the same pay as it was before General Amin took action to reclaim Uganda economy. The plantation workers therefore live like slaves literally. Even worse is the fact that these plantation workers’ rights are being violated or trampled upon left, right, and centre. Recently when the workers embarked on exercising their workers’ rights through protests and demonstrations, demanding that there be improvements in their work environment, including pays, what happened? Museveni’s government instead chose to dispatch gun wielding security forces into the plantation settlement in order to forcefully bring the protests to an end as if Kakira Sugar works is the last remaining plantation of the infamous American plantations of the slavery era where African slaves suffered gross inhumanity. The government of Museveni took this action because they believe there can never be consequences; after all they have for all these years been using heavy handedness on the populations of Uganda with impunity. Second, if foreign investments bring development in a country why is it that Uganda, under the current pro-foreign investors regime, failed miserably in the last 23 years from registering development of any kind? It has been 23 years since Museveni took power yet there are no tangible development in the country. All indices that show whether a country is developed or developing, point to the opposite – that Uganda is not developing. The human development index for instance indicates that Uganda is terribly underdeveloped. People are suffering from all kinds of diseases including malaria and aids. No tangible development has been made in this area to help ease the sufferings. Uganda health industry is in shamble. Referral hospitals like Mulago in Kampala operate without drugs and medical instruments; sometime the hospital carries expired drugs! Outside the cities and towns, health centres don’t exist. People suffer all kinds of sickness like animals; others die and others survive due to their immune systems resisting and fighting off the diseases. Yet we have leaders in Kampala who gloat about wooing into the country foreign investments. Also, the economic development index is as dismal as it can ever get! Uganda does not manufacture any kinds of goods. So the manufacturing industry does not exist. In the area of agriculture, the country does not seem to have any policies governing agricultural industry. There seems to have been attempts to promote private large scale farming in the past. But the country does not have anything to show for that. Most agricultural productions are therefore carried out on the basis of subsistence agricultural. Because of this, the people are barely feeding themselves. In places like the North and East where wars have been raging on for two decades, even subsistence agriculture is dead. People in these areas are being fed by NGOs. Further, infrastructure wise, the government of Museveni has put in place absolutely nothing in 23 years. Roads almost do not exist. Access to places outside the city simply is impossible in many cases. The very roads that were prepared by colonialists are the very roads that are still being used today. Even worse, most are not tarmarcked and become out of use whenever it rains heavily. Even roads within the cities and towns that are tarmarcked, potholes have eaten them off to the point of being useless for human use. Also, Uganda railway is still the same railway system left behind by colonialists. There has never been improvement or expansion of the railway system. The railway wagons are still the same including the railway tracks. Now, here is a government that is fighting tooth and nail to promote foreign investors’ businesses and is hell bent on selling Amuru land to the Madhivanis. A government that, on its own, cannot provide basic, simple but necessary services to its citizens! How can such a government claims to be working with foreign investors in order to create jobs and bring in development? They have failed to create jobs on their own, 23 years of the time, and the plantation workers of Kakira Sugar works owned by Madhivani cannot even afford to feed their immediate families! By what magic are they going to change the conditions in Northern Uganda through establishing the same kind of sugar plantation? And to crown it all, out of all these, we should not forget that the country’s budgets are, year after year, being propped up by donor nations to the tune of 50%. If foreign investors bring development into a country why is it that Uganda government is unable to meet its budgetary requirements? Why is it that foreign investments that the Musevenis keep singing about have failed to help eased all these dire conditions stipulated? Are the foreign investments the Musevenis talk about wooing into the country a different kind of foreign investments? Although corruption is fraught in the country, it would be advisable to note that foreign investors always look for their own interests through profit repatriations, which might explain why the Madhivanis have not been able to transform Kakira Sugar plantation. The question then is, why would Museveni, if the president really has sound judgement, wants to give Amuru land to the Madhivanis when the same Madhivanis have done absolutely nothing in terms of econmic and gainful employment development in Jinja? The resume of the Madhivanis are a matter of public record for all to see. Why is Museveni’s regime failing to see glaring failures in the resume? Matter of poor jugdement? Can the NRA/M government explain the apparent dilapidated state of economy of the country to the populations therefore before talking of giving Amuru land to the Madhivanis? We have an entire population of Northern Uganda rendered unproductive after having killed so many in a war they did not understand the reasons for! How then can the Musevenis and the Madhivanis keep pushing for an already overburden population in Northern Uganda to be dispossessed of their land when the same Madhivani has nothing to show out of Kakira Sugar plantation? What moral authority do the Musevenis and Madhivanis have to keep on insisting on the notion of acquiring land in Amuru for another Madhivani Sugar plantation when the Madhivani Sugar works in Kakira cannot even provide acceptable working environment and conditions for the armies of poor Ugandans working the Kakira sugar plantation – they have not been able to provide acceptable working environment for years and years? The people of Uganda cannot be disenfranchised through hypocritical claims of bringing in foreign investors. The history of NRA/M government is replete with failed economic policies because of poor judgement, and the increased number of poverty-stricken populations is proof. Ugandans know all these. Foreign investment does not bring development for a country. Foreign investment only suplements a country’s economy, which can lead to speeding up the country’s economic growth provided there are favourable conditions. Things like infrastructure and skilled population must already be in place for any foreign investments to contribute to economic development. Unfortunately in Uganda, all the above are lacking. There is therefore nothing NRA/M regime can do as from today that can bring about miraculous economic development in the country. Foreign investors do not bring developments in a country, especially a country like Uganda where even infrastructure do not exist; the populations largely illiterates; and means of communications are basically none existence! How can foreign investments bring about economic developments in such a country? In Northern Uganda, the 20 years war has even worsen the already dire conditions in the region. Almost 100% of the population is unskilled. How can the NRA/M leadership even think of taking advantage of the population? What the North need are heavy investments in educational and skill training! Not exploitations. What the Musevenis and the Madhivanis are looking for in Northern Uganda are merely continuation of the same old, tired exploitations of Ugandans like it was and still is the case in Kakira and Lugazi Sugar plantations, nothing more nothing less. And as a people who want to see more than the exploitations of our people, we cannot accept this hypocritical, capitalist informed venture. Therefore, the idea of giving Amuru land to the Madhivanis must be shelved; we do not need it, for it is informed by the same old, tired capitalist ideology that has continued to impoverished many Ugandans without end. The people of Uganda are poorer and suffering tremendously today to the extent that there is need for an effective and ideologically sound and informed policy implementations – which the government of Museveni has failed to put in place for now 23 years. Unfortunately the same can never be ushered in the country 23 years later; NRM-O leadership who are quasi Marxists today, and flat footed capitalists without capitals tomorrow – depending on which direction the wind is blowing, have failed. Such leaderships therefore only facilitate the dilapidation and destruction of our populations. Ugandans can do better. The Musevenis’ and the Madhivanis’ thirst for land in Northern Uganda therefore must be shelved; we do not need such unscrupulous investments at this material time when especially rampant ideological bankruptcy in the country is the order of the day. It would cause more damage to the populations than good. The writer can be reached at: Obargot@hotmail.com

Written by torit1955

December 15, 2008 at 2:38 pm