Oct. 24, 2011.
In April, 2007, the world watched thousands of Ugandans come together in a mass demonstration which defeated a proposal by Government of Uganda (GOU) to sell Mabira Forest to Madhvani Group. The rain forest which is today one of the last water catchments in the area, and ecologically of unmatched importance, was to be cut down in order to make way for sugarcane growing.
Having failed in Mabira Forest, GOU moved to northern Uganda, and as documented by Hon Okello Okello’s PRESS STATEMENT of (date), the GOU is today forcefully grabbing land in Amuru District, under the protection of Uganda People Defense Force, to make the land available to Madhvani Group. This is being done in disregard for a standing court injunction which was issued by a High Court in Gulu against such activities on disputed land.
The attempted sale of Mabira Forest and the current forceful acquisition of land in Amuru District suggest a determination by GOU to increase production of sugar in the country at all cost, even if it meant risking damages to our environment.
Under ordinary circumstances, the doubling/tripling of sugar prices in Uganda and her neighboring regions in the last two/three years, would have lent justification to the extraordinary undertakings by GOU in the attempted sale of Mabira Forest and the current forceful land grabbing cases in Amuru District, to make the case for urgent need to increase sugar production in the country.
Unfortunately for GOU, the denial of sugar production License to Mengo, which has been feared and highly debated in Ugandan media recently, and at a time when GOU is doing everything possible to convince Ugandans to see and accept as urgent, the need for Madhvani to engage in sugar production on forcefully acquired land, in Amuru District, poses a serious contradiction to the effort and resolve by GOU which seemingly, aim to increase production of sugar in Uganda at all cost.
It removes all elements of good faith from the intentions of GOU in her sugar production endeavors and calls into question the motives behind the preferential licensing and an investigation into why Madhvani alone is worthy of the sugar production license, in this effort by GOU to increase sugar production in the country. It is especially mind boggling if one considers the fact that, unlike the Madhvani Group whose earlier attempt to acquire land in Mabira Forest resulted in a mass demonstration which took the lives of three Ugandans, and who has to relying on forcefully acquiring land in Amuru District to be able to grow sugar today, Mengo has ample supply of rich agricultural land, ready for cultivation at any time. Moreover, sugar production on Mengo’s land would eliminate all the risk of damages to our limping environment, which the destruction of Mabira Forest would have posed, while also mitigating
on the internal conflicts being created in the country by the forceful land grabbing by the Madhvani Group in Amuru District.
All will agree that Mengo is today, as it was at the beginning, the seat of Buganda Kingdom. Though constitutionally denied all political powers in Uganda, Mengo continues to rally together, the people of Buganda in culture and tradition, under the leadership of King (Kabaka) Ronald Mutebi II.
Composed and supported by the people of Buganda, who are Ugandans, any constructive social-economic development undertaken by Mengo, eventually supports the people of Buganda/Uganda. Such developments translate into social, political and economic developments nationally, as it enlarges the tax base which benefits all in the nation. Most importantly, sugar production License for Mengo is a superb idea in initiating, supporting and developing the spirit of local investment and entrapernuralism in Uganda and Africa at large, without which the current economic state will only continue to change for the worst. It is the opportunity to develop a head start in business/entrapernuralism that the GOU denied the indigenous people of Uganda, when they failed to grant Mengo the License to grow sugar in Uganda.
The idea of a sugar production license for Mengo is something, any people-friendly government would have treated as a matter of priority, simply because supporting Mengo in this regard, is supporting a lot of Ugandans and the license should have been granted as a national development policy/economic affirmative action program.
The favored Madhvani Group on the other hand, is a company that is currently engaged in, amongst other things, sugar production in Jinja, eastern Uganda.
Originally, the company was started by a family of Asian ancestry, who were part of the crew brought to E. Africa, by the British colonials, for the purpose of construction of the railroads.
As part of a plan to deny the East Africans the opportunity to develop a business head start/entrapernural spirit, the British colonials favored the Asians. Colonial Banks availed the Asians business loans and helped them set-up shops/merchandising in E. Africa, with the Africans mainly providing cheap labor and consumer market for foreign goods, mainly those manufactured in Europe.
In their quest for resources, Colonial Britain brought in the Asians to impose economically on the E. Africans, market dominant minority outsiders, who were not expected to reinvest locally, the returns on their investment capitals. Many were given British passports/citizenship to help them establish safe banking heavens in Britain; an act which helped channel the monies realized by the Asians in E. Africa, not to Asia, but to Britain/Europe. This has been the foundation on which the current financial infrastructure which is yearly channeling out of Africa, hundreds of billions of Dollars in finances and resources, was built.
Contrary to what the former colonial powers and the neocolonialists teach and want Africans to believe, at colonialism, the primary intention of the British was not to develop Africa, but to build in-roads and avenues of exploitations, of which Madhvani and the railroads which they helped build, were a part.
In accordance with that spirit, some of the current sugar producers in Uganda, who are predominantly of Asian ancestry, have been known to export and re-import on paper, the locally produced sugar, without the sugar ever leaving the country. This book-fixing maneuver, give them room to charge the consumers/Ugandans prices for imported sugar. The sad part is that this fraud is believed to have occurred in the country with knowledge of National Resistance Movement (NRM) GOU.
To the fair minded at this juncture, the idea that 1) Mabira Forest for sugar production was targeting the timber from the forest which was worth US$ 500,000,000.00, an amount Madhvani Group would not be able to realize, out of maximum production, at the current rate of sugar production in Uganda, out of the targeted forest land in 100 years, 2) The GOU/Madhvani land grabbing for sugar production in Amuru District, is targeting the oil fields in Amuru District, has begun to take shape.
Effectively, by denying Mengo/Indigenous Ugandans the license for sugar production, the GOU is today, as it was at colonialism, economically maintaining the unspoken practice/policy of imposing market dominant minority outsiders, on the indigenous population, strictly for the purpose of economic exploitations.
It is very important to mention here that, because of these unspoken practice/policies of our economies being controlled by minority outsiders that African economies failed to transform from third world economies to developed/developing economies after independence. This transformation was possible in Asia, in countries like China, S. Korea, Taiwan, Singapore etc, because these countries did not have any market dominant minority outsiders. That meant most of the monies that was realized out the sweat and the resources of a nation, remained in the country, were reinvested and developed the country.
Naturally, some may want to blame the wars and the instabilities in E. Africa, especially in the cases of Uganda, Congo, Sudan Rwanda etc, as the reasons for their failure to make that transformation. It is a case/a position that many agree with, since the social, political and economic development of a nation depend on the peace and stability of the nation in question. However, it would be a grave mistake to fail to point out the fact that most of the wars and instabilities in post independence-E. Africa and the rest of the continent, as it was during colonialism, occurred for the purpose of economic imposition of market dominant minority outsiders in an area, by the neocolonialists to begin with.
The argument that wars and instabilities were the primary reasons for failure of Africa’s economic transformation to developed/developing economies/nations, is not helped by the fact that politically stable and peaceful countries in post independence Africa, like Kenya and Tanzania, in E. Africa, also failed to make that transformation, primarily because their economies were being controlled by foreigners.
Corruption and marginalization, which are the other factors blamed for lack of economic development in Africa after independence, are all part of the neocolonial mechanism of exploitation.
For that matter, if the marginalized indigenous people of Mengo /Buganda and Amuru etc, are to have a chance to develop their economies locally, which would then be expected to translate into national development, business licensing and the control of land and natural resources that come with land, must as a national policy, give priority to the indigenous people/Africans. This can best be done if the process of licensing and the control of land and the natural resources were localized and kept away from the control of the corrupt centralized system of governance, the aliens favoring leaderships and the neocolonialists. This is only possible in a shared arrangement between localities and the central government, in a Federal System of Government.
Anything less will forever confine Uganda/Africa, to a third world economy/economies.
In the reality of our dwindling resources, the ever increasing population in Uganda/Africa and the fast approaching desert, which translate into diminishing capacity for the continent to support her people, we (the current generation) are doing a total disservice to the young and the future generations of Africa, by letting foreigners to come in, destroy and to take everything of value, to go and develop their own countries/continents.
Finally, I would like to mention here that, whatever has been said here, has been done only in good faith. This is an African reality.