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    OPINION: Busoga’s Rare Earth Elements (REEs) To Kick Poverty Out Of The Sub-region…

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    A map of Busoga sub-region. Iset is the writer Mr. Faruk Kirunda

    Busoga sub-region is at the verge of achieving rapid socioeconomic transformation following the discovery of Rare Earth Elements (REE) on an unprecedented scale. The discovery has caused excitement and raised the spirits of everyone here. This could be the time for Busoga to shake off the tag of poverty and backwardness.

    With the discovery, a private company, Rwenzori Rare Metals Limited was subsequently granted a licence to extract the REEs. The local population is eager to know how Busoga is to benefit from the mining operations just as the Bunyoro Sub-Region region is benefiting from the oil project, even before the first oil is out of the ground.

    On another hand, optimistic opinion leaders are also wondering as to whether there could be other minerals in the sub-region other than the REEs to look to, for sustainable development of the region which is currently entrapped in sugarcane growing, thereby leaving many people in poverty, and hunger stricken.

    Aware of these issues, I recently mobilized different stakeholders for a baraza (community or public discussion forum) involving Busoga Sub-Region local leaders, officials from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD), Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) of the region and the Commissioner/Urban Authorities at 87.7 BABA FM radio premises in Bugembe, Jinja City North Division. The interaction was relayed live on BaBa Radio and TV for the concerned local communities to follow and participate in the discussions.

    From the side of transparency in light of this God-sent natural resource windfall, this is a good starting point to lay bare all the facts regarding the discovery and admit ideas on how best to prevent a mineral curse from manifesting.

    These are two categories of minerals that have been identified; minerals that are currently known and are being (or are soon to be) exploited, and minerals whose potential has been documented for further investigations.

    REE resources have been confirmed in Bugweri, Mayuge and Bugiri and consequently, a Large-Scale Mining Licence (LML00334) granted to Rwenzori Metals to extract REE. Additional exploration in the surrounding areas is still ongoing by the company. The discovery has attracted many other mining and exploration companies to lodge License applications to explore for more undiscovered REE resources.

    Gold associated with the Archaean greenstone belt environment occurs around Lake Victoria in Uganda Kenya and Tanzania. In the Ugandan belt, gold occurs in Bugiri and Namayingo districts. Evidence is gold rushes at Nakudi in Namayingo as well as Simase and Sigulu Islands. This is the same gold type in Busia areas.

    Another “mineral” is clay. The clay deposits occur at Kagulu – Nsomba and the large swampy rivers draining into Lake Kyoga area may yield abundant deposits to support a large clay industry to produce clay products like those of the Uganda Clays Ltd at Kajjansi.

    Granites; these are many within the sub-region. Granite and gneiss rock resources occur at many isolated hills in Busoga e.g. at Baitambogwe (Mayuge), Iganga (Iganga) Mawembe (Luuka), Namaira (Kamuli), Kasolwe (Kamuli), Ikanda and Kasato (Buyende) districts and Nsavu – Irimbi granite hills in Bugiri District. It should, however, be noted that some, for example, at Kagulu – Nsomba hill have cultural and historical significance and preference is to conserve them for those purposes.

    Between 2005 and 2012, MEMD undertook mineral resource assessment in selected areas of Uganda and identified a number of new potential mineral targets. These include Quartz-vein-hosted gold in Ivukula. There is high potential for discovery of economic deposits of base metals (Copper, Nickel and Cobalt) within the gabbro rock bodies which were discovered during a recent geological mapping and mineral resources assessment exercise. The prospects include: Kasokwe (Kaliro), Namunyumya (Bugweri), Butamakita (Iganga) , Bukanga & Naigobya (Luuka), Nabukalu & Bugiri (Bugiri).

    Kimberlites, the source rocks for Diamond, have been pinpointed in the entire Busoga, the most prominent one being documented at Kidera in Buyende District.

    Iron ore potential was estimated on Namugongo and Nambogwe peninsulas in Mayuge District along the shores of Lake Victoria. Peat, a heterogeneous mixture of more or less decomposed plant (humus) material, has also been discovered.

    Peat deposits exist along the river valley swamps in central, east and southwestern parts of Uganda. In Busoga, peat deposits occur mainly along the lower shoreline of Lake Kyoga. Peat is mainly used as a source of energy and in urban agriculture as soil for horticulture in the backyards. If this resource is harnessed in substantial amounts, it has the potential to turn around our energy and small space farming needs.

    Therefore, apart from direct benefits to land owners, the sub counties and districts where mining is taking place, Busoga sub-region is set to benefit from the ongoing prospective and mining projects in a number of ways. These include: employment for locals, market for locally produced goods and services, revenue from accommodation (rental houses) for workers in the projects, revenue from royalty share on government revenue from the project’s mineral production (Central Government receives 70%, District 15%, Sub County 10% and Land owner 5% of the total royalties from the productions) and improvement on infrastructure and social service overheads (electricity supply, water, roads, health care) in the region.

    As leaders of and from the sub-region, this is an opportunity to embrace with both hands. The plan of the Government to socioeconomically transform Ugandans has received a big boost of nature which we must optimise and leave a legacy. The Basoga should be sensitised more on the meaning of this grand discovery which has come when we needed it most and can overturn Busoga’s current poor economic landscape. When God blesses us, who can say “no”!

    Everywhere, Project Affected Persons (PAPs) should calm down as nobody will be sent off their land without consultation, amicable agreements and fair compensation. And in line with H.E the President’s directives, no minerals mined should be exported in raw form as that will be equivalent to throwing away jobs for Basoga.

    However, the discovery of these minerals shouldn’t in any way distract the people from engaging in agricultural production because not everyone will fit in the mining sector. Moreso, lots of food products will be needed to feed miners and to keep away inflation arising from short supply of food amidst a flourishing mineral industry.

    The sub-region is also endowed with a latent tourism potential which requires proper packaging and investment to bring about groundbreaking economic returns. This is Busoga’s time, as part of the bigger National Development Plans!

     

    Mr. Faruk Kirunda is the Deputy Press Secretary of the President of Uganda

    Contact: faruk.kirunda@statehouse.go.ug

    0776980486/0783990861

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    NATIONAL

    Intelligence Picks Interest In Social Media Demands For Kabaka Mutebi As Section Of Baganda Organise Allergy Run…

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    One of the country’s intelligence organizations has picked interest in the ongoing social media frenzy concerning Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II the Kabaka of Buganda.

    President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s government has been silently watching to see how Mengo administration will handle allegations spread mostly by Ugandans in the diaspora over Kabaka’s health and his whereabouts from the day he landed at Entebbe International Airport upon returning back into the country from United Kingdom where he had traveled to get further medical attention.

    Buganda Kingdom administration led by Charles Peter Mayiga rubbished the allegations and assured Kabaka’s subject that their king is still abroad receiving medication and he will appear at the right time.

    They further explained that it is not a Kiganda tradition norm for Baganda to demand for the Kabaka’s public appearance.

    He added that Kabaka is being taken care of by his immediate family members and friends and he is in Namibia resting while following advice from his doctors in Europe.

    However Baganda including the National Unity platform (NUP) Principal Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (Bobi Wine) encouraged Baganda to continue asking for information concerning their Kabaka because he is their cultural leader and no person has monopoly over him to the extent of silencing them.

    However, highly placed sources in intelligence told theGrapevine that the demand on social media has now led to organizing of social events to pressure Mayiga’s administration on Kabaka’s absence which is threatening the country’s security.

    This website established that a group of youth in Buganda led by Mubiru Njuuki have organized a run branded allergy Run 2024.

    Njuuki exclusively told theGrapevine that the aim of the run is to show solidarity with their King who is going through a very challenging situation.

    “The Kabaka is our pillar and without him, Buganda cannot stand, we cannot look on as people he gave positions of leadership enjoying life while they are deceiving us,” Njuuki said.

    He added that the money they are going to collect from the run will be used in sensitizing the public on the dangers of allergy.

    He explain that at first, people took allergy as a simple infection but the way it has threatened Kabaka’s life to the extent of being referred abroad for further treatment means it is a very dangerous disease which people should be aware of.

    He added that the organizing committee which includes members of Buganda Kingdom clan heads is expecting more than 10,000 participates and the run will start from Kabaka’s Mengo palace.

    They will run around Kampala and come back to Kabaka’s palace where experts in allergy will talk to the people and advises them on the dangers of allergy, how to avoid it and cure it.

    He added that the money collected from the run will be given to one of the big hospitals in town to establish a well-equipped allergy department and clinic.

    Njuuki revealed that among the guests that the organizing committee plans to invite include; President Museveni who they want to be the chief runner, Annet Anita Among the speaker of parliament, Owiny Dollo the Chief Justice, Mayiga and other Buganda Kingdom Royal family members and clan heads.

    The organizers have already printed t-shirts and fliers which the participants are going to put on and use with caps and they plan to put them on the market at Shs.20, 000 each.

    “When polio broke out in Buganda, many thought it was just a simple disease but they started fearing it when it attacked one of the princes in the Kingdom. Sir Edward Walugembe Mutesa, the Buganda Kingdom fallen King declared it a deadly disease and rallied his subjects to fight it by all means to save their loved ones because if the disease could attack one of his family members, it means that other people were in more danger,” Njuuki said.

    Njuki explained that Baganda no longer trust and take Mayiga’s statements serious when it comes to matters of Kabaka Mutebi’s health seriously because he has mastered the art of deceiving them.

    He disclosed that Baganda would rather take President Museveni’s word on the Kabaka’s health than Mayiga’s.

    In 2020, Mayiga told Baganda that Kabaka was suffering from allergy which was caused by flowers, a claim that was vehemently contested.

    Former Buganda Kingdom Premier Joseph Mulwanyamuli Ssemogerere assured Baganda that their king is recovering and he talked to him via zoom.

    Ssemogerere added that Kabaka Mutebi confirmed to him that he is following whatever is being said on social media and whatever is going on in his Kingdom and he promised to address everything at the right time.

    But intelligence operatives told theGrapevine that Mayiga and Mengo administration have failed to handle Kabaka’s sickness properly given that it has started threatening the country’s security because any bad person can use it to incite the public into demonstration and rioting as it was in 2009 when Kabaka was stopped from visiting Bugerere County.

    “Look at the way how Kabaka appears in the public, he has always been badly dressed. Now how can you assure the public that he is not under someone’s control! They should start from addressing the issue of his dress code, otherwise the State will come out and address the matter in its own way because the Kabaka is a very important person in the country and if anything happens to him, it affects the whole country,” he said.

    The development comes days after the army declared that Kabaka’s Chief security officer Capt. Edward Ssempijja abandoned his job without permission from his bosses.

    However Mayiga defended him and confirmed that he went to South Africa for further studies.

    theGrapevine has also established that Kabaka’s absence has created a lot of internal fights and misunderstanding within the Kingdom administration and Mayiga is under a lot of pressure.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    NATIONAL

    MASTERS OF CHAOS! Minister Mao Warns Bobi Wine To Prepare For The Worst From Mpuuga, DP Block Politicians…

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    NUP boss Bobi Wine. Inset L is DP's Norbert Mao and R inset is Matthias Mpuuga

    Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister who also doubles as the Democratic Party President General Norbert Mao has warned National Unity Platform (NUP) President Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (Bobi Wine) to prepare for the worst from Mathias Mpuuga Nsamba and members of the DP Block.

    Exclusively speaking to theGrapevine, Mao explain that when he saw Mpuuga and his friends who were formally members of Suubi, a political pressure group and DP party crossing to NUP, he envisioned what is happening right now.

    He added that the said people were a problem to DP and when they joined NUP, the DP problem crossed to Bobi Wine.

    Bobi Wine is under attack from members of his party who crossed from DP to NUP. They have even threatened to reveal their next political action next month at Mpuuga’s thanks giving ceremony where Charles Peter Mayiga the Buganda Kingdom premier is expected as the Chief Guest.

    Highly placed sources revealed that Mpuuga and his group are planning to reveal a new political pressure group which will tour the entire country getting views from their supporters concerning their next course of action after disagreeing with Bobi Wine’s leadership.

    George Musisi, one of lawyers for NUP accused Mpuuga’s blue eyed boy Samuel Lubega Mukaku of supporting the NUP faction led by Moses Kibalama.

    Sources allege that Mpuuga’s faction are confident that Court is going to declare Bobi Wine’s leadership at NUP illegal and the party will return into the hands of Kibalama a move they think will give them the opportunity to use NUP as a vehicle in the 2026 general elections.

    Other sources claim that Mpuuga and group are planning to use Buganda Kingdom leadership structures from the village level to mobilize support in Buganda come 2026.

    Mpuuga is confident that it was Buganda structures that helped Bobi Wine to defeat President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his NRM party in Buganda and without them, Bobi will lose.

    However, Nakaseke South legislator Paulson Lutamaguzi Ssemakula rubbished Mpuuga’s political calculations explaining that Bobi Wine will remain strong whether Buganda’s Mayiga supports him or not.

    He asserts that Bwanika and Mpuuga are working for President Museveni and he has always deployed them whenever election period approaches and help him to divide and disorganize the opposition.

    Ssemakula said that in 2021, when Bobi Wine was planning to work with Dr. Kizza Besigye, Bwanika abused Dr. Besigye and accussed him of working for Museveni to distract Baganda.

    He added that in 2006, Bwanika swore an affidavit in support of Museveni against Dr. Besigye before the Supreme Court and his evidence saved Museveni and stamped his win.

    However, Bwanika also accuses Bobi Wine of working for Museveni to stop the opposition from taking state power.

    The Bobi Wine/Mpuuga misunderstanding deepened when Bobi Wine ordered him to apologise to the nation and return the Shs500m bribe he admittedly received from the parliamentary Commission as a reward for being a good Leader of Opposition in parliament. Mpuuga was also told to resign from the office of the Commissioner of parliament which he declined to do.

    Bobi Wine also suspended Mpuuga from the office the national vice president in charge of Buganda region on top of sending him to the party disciplinary committee.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    NATIONAL

    Panic Among Ministers, M7 Set To Hold Cabinet Sittings At His Kisozi Farm With Tough Conditions…

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    Ministers have started panicking upon learning that very soon, their boss President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is set to hold cabinet meetings from his Kisozi country home.

    Highly placed State House sources revealed that Museveni wants to test the knowledge of his ministers when it comes to issues of fighting poverty among Ugandans through government programs.

    “The president is tired of hearing his ministers telling people to participate in government programs like Parish Development Modal, Emyooga, the four acre farming modal and others. He now wants to know and challenge them on which other initiatives they have put in place to fight poverty among the communities surrounding them,” a source said.

    The source added that ministers are going to be given enough time to make submissions concerning their own initiatives with evidence showing how the public has benefited from them.

    He added that the president is also going to invite experts on development and those producing farming products with value addition to lecture ministers on how their communities can benefit from them.

    Museveni recently boasted of how he fought poverty among his neighbours in Kisozi.

    The President disclosed that as a way of appreciating his efforts, his neighbors have started giving him money and other products to thank him for the advice he gave them and they are no longer begging him by blocking him to ask for money when he is driving to his farm.

    “In the 2026 presidential campaign, the President doesn’t want Museveni Abeewo, he wants his campaign team to stick to developmental issues which help Ugandans to fight poverty,” a source said.

    The cabinet meetings at Kisozi are also expected to be attended by NRM officials from the party Secretariat, those from the Offices of the National Chairperson in Kyambogo and other top government officials.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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