James Onen aka Fatboy has contested the fines stipulated in the Mining and Mineral Bill 2021 that will see miners without a license either face at least 5 years in jail, pay a fine of 1 billion shillings, or both.
The Mining and Mineral Bill 2021 was endorsed by a section of MPs on February 17 2022 , during a plenary session that was 8 hours long and chaired by the Deputy Speaker Anita Among. This was passed by MPs from the ruling party in the absence of opposition MPs that boycotted Parliament over allegations of torture of opposition members and their supporters.
In his comment, Fatboy wondered how the amount of minerals would be calculated to equate the punishment given to the offenders of the law.
“What if I extracted gold whose market value amounted to 1,000 dollars without a license and was arrested and charged under this law. Does that mean I am still charged a billion shillings?” He asked.
Olive additionally said that the depreciation in value of some minerals such as copper would make the law unfair, further wondering who would extract minerals without a license if not by the help of the Government.
“Most miners are foreigners so how does someone start mining without a license? You are going to find Chinese in stone quarries and all other places with minerals. So do they just walk through the country, find land and then start mining minus anyone helping?”
In response, Fatboy said, “Of course it would be hard for someone to do that without the help of the Government. So maybe those are the people being targeted and those that collide with businessmen as well.”
More still, the Presenter expressed discontent towards the handling of the resources which he said have not benefited Ugandans. “I guess the underlying premise of the country’s mineral wealth is to benefit the country and its citizens but we really haven’t seen that or the Government exploiting them for the benefit of citizens. We instead see a lot of it being stolen, misappropriated or limited movement like in the case of oil.”
When assented by the President, the law will see the establishment of the Uganda National Mining Company that will have a 15% free equity in all corporate entities involved in mining the country's resources in both large and medium mining ventures.
The Fatboy show is hosted by James Onen aka Fatboy, Olive, Sarah and Lesham every weekday from 6am to 10am on RX Radio.