On May 5, Energy and Mineral Development minister Dr Mary Gorreti Kitutu presented to parliament the oil pipeline agreements the Ugandan government signed with Tanzania and various companies involved in the implementation of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project.
These agreements included the Host Government Agreement, the Tariffs and Transportation Agreement and the Shareholders Agreement. However, she stated that the agreements are commercial in nature with confidentiality clauses and called upon the members of parliament to handle the agreements sensitively.
Transparency while signing these agreements means that all parties are open to share the information with stakeholders. It should be noted that Uganda has signed bad agreements under the cover of confidentiality clauses, which cost taxpayers money.
Article 41(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda states that every citizen has a right to access information in the possession of the state or any other organ or agency of the state except where the release of the information is likely to prejudice the security or sovereignty of the state or interfere with the right to privacy of any other person.
The Access to Information Act, 2005 provides for access to public information by any citizen with some limitation and this violates the 1995 constitution, which is the supreme law.
It should be noted that keeping oil contracts secret enables increased environmental degradation, human rights abuses, conflict, and displacement of communities, corruption and mismanagement of public funds.
Secrecy also prevents positive development outcomes while enabling corruption and environmental degradation on the part of the oil companies. We call upon the government of Uganda to ensure transparency in the signing of these agreements and ensure sharing the information.
The government of Uganda joined Extractive industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in October 2020. Therefore, the Ministry of Finance should fast-track and table an EITI bill before parliament to create an EITI law in Uganda.
This law will be an important instrument in entrenching transparency, accountability and good governance in the extractive industry. EITI requires the government to publish an annual EITI report disclosing information on contracts, licenses, volumes of oil, how much is produced, how much is paid and how much is received.
Know difference between homosexuality and sodomy
I have followed crusaders of the gospel against homosexuality with keen interest for a long time. I observe that they keep mixing up sodomy and homosexuality.
They casually use the huge word “ebisiyaga” to refer to homosexuality, creating a misleading impression that ebisiyaga is a sexual act for only homosexuals!
This mix-up has permeated into the general public and now the Sexual Offences Bill, which was passed by Parliament recently.
Whereas this mix-up may be alright in religious pastoral work and cultural/moral guidance, it is dangerous for lawmaking. The measurements for religion, culture and morals are not the same as those for law.
Sodomy is the sexual act which may be regulated using the law. On the other hand, homosexuality cannot be legislated upon because it is a mind game. It only goes as far as your imagination stretches. Homosexuality can be anything and this may differ to different people depending on their fears, concerns and backgrounds.
The ultimate measurement of homosexuality is sodomy, the sexual act. But even people in straight, versatile, transgender and all other types of relationships, whether you acknowledge their existence or not, can have anal and oral sex (sodomy).
The Sexual Offences Bill, with all its goodness, is tainted with the clause on same-sex friendships, which ought to be struck out before it is assented to.
The clause creates a cult society where same sex people look at each other with animosity and cannot interact freely in normal and ordinary life as friends because they may be suspected to have criminal sex. That is ridiculous!
Besides, legislating homosexuality will cause an unnecessary increase in the volume of complaints, which will never be prosecuted for lack of evidence. The evidence you will need will be for sodomy. I pray that parliament revisits The Sexual Offences Bill before the president signs it into law.
Online environment portal is not the solution
The media recently reported about the government of Uganda launching an online portal to monitor the destruction of the environment across the country.
The commissioner for lands management said that the development will enable policymakers to access customized satellite data on the level of environmental destruction and that it will cut supervision cost, allowing evidence-based decision-making.
However, this is likely not to help combat the environmental issues because it is the government protecting the investors destroying our forests and wetlands.
It is the government issuing land titles in sensitive ecosystems such as Bugoma central forest reserve, Zoka forest and Mabira forest, among others.
It is the government failing to implement the development of district and city physical plans that would help to control land use in an environmentally-friendly manner.
It is not that government lacks enough information about the massive destruction of our critical ecosystems across the country; this information is always reported by the mainstream media and yet no action is taken.
Since 2016, a lot of massive destructions have been taking place in Bunyoro and northern Uganda as well as central region and reported well but nothing has been done because it is the government allowing the investor to carry out their developments in these protected areas.
Therefore, the government is just wasting taxpayers’ money that would be used for other infrastructural developments such as roads, markets and hospitals. Instead, the government should first use the information they have regarding massive destruction of the forest and wetland across the country before implementing the online portal.
Covid-19 has positives on environment
There have been some positives on the environment as a result of the lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The lockdown has improved the air quality in different cities across the world by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, lessened water pollution and noise and reduced the pressure on the tourist destinations, which have assisted with the restoration of the ecological system.
The lockdowns have also improved on the water quality since there was less pollution, and reduced movement of people on boats or swimming. Meanwhile, wild animals also got a new lease of life since there was less poaching and low human activity.
There were some negatives, too, as a result of the lockdown. There was an increase in medical waste, haphazard use and disposal of disinfectants, masks and gloves, all of which affected the environment.
For now, there is the urgency for all of us to stand up and work out how we can play a part in protecting and rehabilitating the earth’s biodiversity.
We need to focus on less energy-intensive industries, cleaner fuels, new technologies, and building strong energy-efficient policies.