Uganda’s constitution provides that all land in Uganda is owned by the people of Uganda, however, mineral wealth beneath belongs to government. Ugandans therefore, have absolute surface rights.
While the Minerals Act, section 42 states that all exploration companies must obtain surface rights from landowners before any mineral license is granted. Government now wants to change the land ownership system so that mining companies deal with the government instead of those with land titles.
Already government is in the process of amending the law to allow intending investors in the mining industry to access private land that contains minerals without negotiating with the land owners.
We are talking about community-owned land, which these communities have owned for generations and generations. This is land that has sustained communities’ livelihoods –provision of food, water, shelter, medicines etc.
The mineral sector in Uganda is beginning to boom, and along with it comes the contentious issues of land and resettlement. Now if government, that would intervene when communities and mining companies fail to reach agreement on resettlement and compensations packages, then where will communities go?
Government should ensure that the mining sector achieves the objectives of the Country Mining Vision –Improving livelihoods and industrialization.