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    OPINION: Lessons We Should Learn So That Our Oil Does Not Turn Into A Curse – Unwanted Catastrophes In Uganda’s Oil Sector…

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    The writer Eng. Godfrey Mbagira

    Uganda’s oil may be a curse in future and this analogy is developed based on evidences from other producing countries across the globe.

    I dedicate this article to my Mentor and a good friend Mr. Byaruhanga Robert for his genuine support and rare found generosity and maximum respect to him because of his factual deep analysis and wide knowledge on the oil industry.

    First of all, as you are reading this article, keep memorizing this phase, “if it has happened elsewhere then it can happen here in Uganda”.

    Let us start with Venezuela as one of the classic examples that we need to look at.

    In the world of oil, Venezuela rose from rags to riches.

    Oil revenues for forty years enabled Venezuela to evolve from one of the most impoverished nations in the world to one of the wealthiest in Latin America.

    All of the country’s vital sectors improved; health care, education, employment, longevity, and Infant survival rates.

    Businesses prospered and the international banks flooded the country with loans that paid for vast infrastructure and industrial projects and for the highest skyscrapers.

    Then, oil prices crashed, and Venezuela could not repay its debts, the IMF imposed harsh austerity measures and pressured Caracas to support the corporatocracy in many other ways.

    President Museveni is very firm about having a refinery in Uganda but some saboteurs have shamelessly indicated that it is not commercially viable to invest in the refinery.

    Yet in 2009, the government of Uganda contracted Foster Wheeler Energy Limited from united Kingdom  to carry out a feasibility study on the development of a refinery in Uganda and the study confirmed the economic viability of refining petroleum in the country, and the recommendations were adopted in 2011 and a 60000 barrel per day refinery was to be located at Kabale in Buseruka subcounty, in Hoima District.

    The East African Crude Oil Pipeline construction budget for 1445 kilometers is 3.5 billion US dollars and the pipeline is planned to have a capacity of 216,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

    Tanzania will earn $12.7 of each barrel of oil transported through it and more than 2000 expatriates are expected in the country to work in oil and gas sector.

    It is a big shame that some of the planners of this country are fighting this venture.

    Uganda discovered oil way back in 1925 through a government Geologist Wayland who proved that it was commercially viable in 2006.

    The state should have invested heavily in these golden opportunities for its citizens, but it’s ridiculous that we changed the narrative from a refinery to the construction of a pipeline.

    I’m also wondering why the agreements are confidential and are kept secret.

    I heard some cases of irregularities in the compensation process where the original land owners were under-evaluated and others were forcefully evicted from their land.

    There is fear that these will result into serious resentments and conflicts in future from the natives.

    Allow me to cite another good example from Nigeria; Nigeria is a West African country and discovered her oil in 1956, exportation of oil began in 1958. Nigeria happens to be the tenth recognized oil exporting country in the world.

    The oil and gas industry contributes 95% of export earnings and 40% of Nigeria’s total revenue.  The oil economy in Nigeria is very important to the country, but the people of Nigeria still suffer from a corrupt government.

    People in Niger Delta are living in absolute poverty, the environment is devastated and extremely destroyed, illegal oil refineries are run on a large scale, government projects are sabotaged, oil pipe lines are destroyed every day, many militant groups are emerging, there are oil spills in water bodies regularly.

    This really makes me worried for my dear country Uganda because these incidents are highly expected to happen here.

    I was shocked that some big ministers were involved in corruption scandals during the signing of agreements. Unfortunately, these multibillion oil companies care only about making profits.

    On this issue also, allow me to cite another incident in Nigeria; Shell failed to clean up and court ordered it to compensate the affected people but up to now, no compensation has been done.

    Conflicts arose in 1990 between foreign oil companies and a number of Niger delta ethnic groups who felt they were being exploited particularly the Ogoni and the Ijaw, and these groups started sabotaging the developments including destroying pipelines.

    Eventually, shell was forced to vacate the land.

    These misunderstandings between oil companies and the natives started from land troubles. The oil companies then decided to employ foreign experts, leaving more local Nigerians unemployed.

    There has not been significant impact of crude oil production in improving environmental conditions for Nigerians.  This implies that while oil companies have profited immensely from Nigeria’s oil wealth, in the over 45 years of exploitation, local communities in the oil rich areas still live in poverty and with daily pollution caused by non-stop gas flaring.

    If Shell had invested and empowered the locals, it would not have experienced such a big sabotage, this should be an eye opener to Uganda.

    I have been listening to President Museveni on the issue of oil and he has consistently encouraged citizens to focus majorly on agriculture and other sectors because he understands the severe effects of Dutch disease that may result from not paying maximum attention to oil sector.

    Look at this other scenario, Texaco discovered petroleum in Ecuador’s Amazon region and a trans-Andean pipeline was built, then shortly, over a half million barrels of oil leaked into the fragile rain forest.

    During this same period, the indigenous cultures began fighting back. For instance, on May 7, 2003, a group of American lawyers representing more than thirty thousand indigenous Ecuadorian people filed a $1 billion lawsuit against ChevronTexaco Corp.

    The suit asserts that between 1971 and 1992, the oil giant dumped into open holes and rivers over four million gallons per day of toxic Waste water contaminated with oil, heavy metals, and carcinogens, and that the company left behind nearly 350 uncovered waste pits that continue to kill both people and animals.

    Ecuador is in far worse shape today than she was before they introduced her to the miracles of modern economics, banking, and engineering.

    Since 1970, during that period known euphemistically as the Oil Boom, the official poverty level grew from 50% to 70%, unemployment increased from 15 to 70%, and public debt increased from $240 million to $16 billion.

    Meanwhile, the share of national resources allocated to the poorest segments of the population declined from 20% to 6%

    Surprisingly Ecuador is in too much foreign debt and must devote an inordinate share of its national budget to paying this off, instead of using its capital to help the millions of its citizens and those officially classified as dangerously impoverished.

    The only way Ecuador can buy down its foreign obligations is by selling its rain forests to the oil companies.

    NOW, my biggest worry is on Uganda’s debt. I vehemently believe that we are already trapped, and as an analyst, allow me to make predictions on Uganda’s oil revenue allocations; approximately 75% will be taken by oil companies and the remaining 25%, three-quarters must go to paying off the Foreign debt.

    Most of the remainder will covers military and other government expenses which will leave about 2.5% for health, education and less than 3% will  go to the people who need the money most.

    My mentor, Mr. Robert told me that opportunity goes to those who are prepared.

    We must position ourselves for these opportunities. Oil and gas sector is big with numerous opportunities, let us tap into them.

     

    Composed by Eng. Godfrey Mbagira a social activist and a political analyst, founder of GOAM Youth voice Uganda.

    For God and My Country

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    Desperate Housewife Blocks Tropical Bank From Selling Matrimonial Home Over Shs.2.9bn Debt…

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    Muhammed Hala, the wife to a city businessman has blocked Tropical Bank from selling their matrimonial home over Shs2.9bn debt.

    She petitioned the High Court Commercial Division challenging the actions of the bank threatening to put their matrimonial home on the market through advertising it in the media without her knowledge.

    In her affidavit, Hala insisted that her husband Muhammed Tariq, of Sudan origin mortgaged their matrimonial home sitting on plot 195 Kawempe Division Kampala City to Tropical bank without her consent as stipulated by law as a spouse and she only learnt about it through media.

    She explained that as a wife, her children don’t have where to go if the said house is put on auction and sold.

    She pleaded with Court to issue a temporary injunction stopping the bank, its agents from going on with their planned move to auction their home.

    Juliet Hatanga, the Deputy Registrar of the High Court Commercial Division agreed with the applicant and stopped the sale of the house until the entire petition is heard and determined.

    “I find it necessary to grant the application of the temporary injunction pursuant to regulation 13(4) of the Mortgage Regulations,” she ruled.

    She however directed the applicant to deposit in Court 30% of the forced sale value of the mortgage property within 45 days from the day of the ruling.

    theGrapevine has established that Hala has deposited in Court her land title comprising Kyadondo Block 107 plot 148 Nakyesanja, Wakiso district, which is valued Shs.1.49bn.

    In 2015, Tariq obtained the Shs.8bn loan using his matrimonial home and their family property on plot 5 Luthuli Drive in Kampala city but failed to service his loan which resulted in bank’s actions to auction the said properties.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    SIMBAMANYO SAGA: Tycoons Sudhir, Luwangula, Equity Bank, Top Judges, Lawyers In Bitter Fight Over Shs.40bn Deal…

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    Tucoons Peter Kamya (top L) and Sudhir Ruparelia (bottom L) and Justice Stephen Mubiru (R)

    On Thursday, Justice Stephen Mubiru, the Head of the High Court Commercial Division dismissed with costs two applications filed by Equity bank Uganda Ltd, Meera Investments Ltd, Luwaluwa Investments and Katende Ssempebwa and Company Advocate seeking stay of the proceedings challenging the process followed during the selling and buying of multibillion properties belonging to city businessman Peter Kamya.

    Kamya, through his lawyers led by commercial law giant Ebert Byenkya filed an application for discovery of e-mails and bank accounts of the defendants insisting that they are very crucial in prosecuting their matter and will help Court to deliver a fair decision which the defendants strongly objected to.

    In his affidavit to support his application, Kamya told Court that he received detailed information from a whistleblower that there was a lot of syndicate and communication between the defendants which resulted into a bribe of USD1.8million exchanging hands to defraud the system so that he loses his Simbamanyo building on Lumumba Avenue Kampala which was sold to Meera Investments Limited and his Afrique Suits on Mutungo hill which was sold to Luwaluwa Investments limited by Equity bank.

    Kamya claims that Ronald Luwangula, the proprietor of Luwaluwa Investment connived with lawyers and Equity bank officials to defraud the process.

    He detailed that Luwangula borrowed money from equity bank under the guise of shipping his goods which were stuck in Japan.

    But when the bank gave him the money, he sold his building in Wandegeya and added the money onto the bank loan and ended up buying his Afrique Suits.

    He added that the lawyers masterminded the entire fraud by illegally advising Sudhir to transfer his Simbamanyo building in minutes after signing purchase agreement with equity bank and the transaction was done during 2020 Covid-19 Lockdown.

    Byenkya based his case on a Supreme Court judgment which states that whenever there is any fraud in the process a transaction, the entire transaction is declared illegal.

    The defendants rubbished the plaintiff’s case insisting that he failed to service his USD10 million debt that resulted in auctioning his properties which he used as security.

    Sources at the Commercial Court told theGrapevine that the defendants petitioned Justice Rubby Aweri Opio, the Chief Inspector of Courts after Justice Mubiru took almost two months without hearing their two applications to appeal in the Court of Appeal challenging his rulings against them.

    The defendants accused Justice Mubiru of being biased and not following the Civil procedures and rules when presiding over the controversial case.

    A source revealed that one of the senior lawyers at Katende Ssempebwa and Company Advocates stormed Justice Mubiru’s chambers pleading with him to allow them to proceed with their appeal.

    “You know that senior lawyer thought that because he was Justice Mubiru’s teacher at the law school (Makerere University) and at the Law Development Center, he will use that background to convince him but the man stood his ground and refused to allow them to appeal against his ruling,” a source said.

    He added that the senior lawyer was very bitter with Justice Mubiru and threatened him that he will soon be forced out of the Commercial Court the way Justice Henry Adonya left after his controversial judgement in Shs.200bn case between Diamond Trust Bank and city tycoon Hamis Kiggundu the proprietor of Ham Enterprises Limited.

    Sources explained that before petitioning Justice Aweri, lawyers petitioned other top judicial officers to intervene in the matter and a number of phone calls were made to Justice Mubiru to change his mind but like Justice Esther Kisakye of the Supreme Court, Justice Mubiru stubbornly responded to his superiors that he swore before the president to deliver justice to all Ugandans without fear or favor.

    The respondents claimed that Kamya’s application was only based on hearsay and if Justice Mubiru’s ruling is not overturned by the Court of Appeal, it will set precedence that any person can come up with a frivolous suit without any evidence of any crime committed demanding to inspect and see another person’s financial statements and other personal records.

    They added that the ruling is very risky to the banking industry and customer’s confidentiality which has to be protected.

    One of the lawyers of the respondents revealed to theGrapevine that there is a lawyer who has been representing Sudhir who leaked vital information to counsel Fred Muwema, one of Kamya’s lawyers.

    And the reason why Kamya’s lawyers are insisting on the emails is because they are sure that whatever the e-mails and bank accounts will reveal, will end the entire case because the whole fraud that led to the execution of the transactions in which their client lost his properties is buried there.

    On 19th September 2022, Justice Aweri wrote to Justice Mubiru directing him to forward the entire Simbamanyo file to him to investigate a number of allegations put against him on the way he presiding the matter.

    “Under Section 9 and 11 of the Administration of the Judiciary Act of 2020, I am writing to immediately call for the entire file and all other applications arising thereunder for our perusal as a matter of urgency,” Justice Aweri’s letter read in parts.

    However, when the matter came up for further hearing, Sim Katende, the lawyer who was in the middle of the entire transaction asked for an adjournment citing Justice Aweri’s letter and noting that their matter is under investigation that is why they cannot proceed which Justice Mubiru rubbished.

    A bitter exchange of words ensued between Justice Mubiru and counsel Katende who threatened to drag the latter to the law council and petition the American Law Council where Katende is a member over his unprofessional and undermining character.

    Katende openly told Justice Mubiru that he is too late to do so because he cannot keep quiet when Courts are doing illegalities.

    In his remarks on Justice Aweri’s letter, Justice Mubiru stated,” If I am to adjourn a case because of an administrative letter, what will I be doing?”

    He insisted that he will not be bound by Justice Aweri’s letter and promised to proceed with the matter to its conclusion.

    Kamya petitioned president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni over the fraudulent sell of his properties and the president directed the Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka and Bank of Uganda to investigate the matter.

    It was established that his properties were legally sold and he was advised to contest the transaction in Courts of law.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    Panic As European Union Parliament Summons TotalEnergies Boss Pouyanne Over Uganda -Tanzania EACOP Project….

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    President Museveni (R) with TotalEnergies boss Patrick Pouyanne (L)

    The European Union Parliament has summoned Patrick Pouyanne, the Chief Executive Officer of TotalEnergies International over Uganda-Tanzania controversial East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project.

    Pouyanne is expected to appear before the European parliament Committee on Environment, food and natural resources committee in early October to defend his company and the partners on allegations put against them concerning the construction of the EACOP.

    The Ugandan government led by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni protested the controversial resolution adopted by the European parliament condemning TotalEnergeyies for investing in a project which involves violation of human rights and the environment.

    The legislators in the European Parliament claimed that in the preparation for the construction of the pipeline, which is set to transport Ugandan oil from Hoima through Tanzania, a number of people have been wrongfully imprisoned including human rights defenders.

    They claimed that over 100,000 people in places where the pipeline is set to pass are at risk of being displaced and evicted from their land without proper procedure of compensating them.

    The legislators also added that the construction of the pipeline is going to lead to destroying the environment because it is going to be pass near lakes, rivers and game reserves.

    However, President Museveni assured Ugandans that the pipeline will be built whether the European parliament wants or not.

    He further warned TotalEnergies that his government is very ready to institute a commercial lawsuit against them since they signed an agreement when entering the deal.

    National Unity Platform (NUP) principal Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine welcomed the move by the European parliament and boasted that the money which was going to be harvested from the country’s oil was going benefit only a few people.

    He revealed that he is among the people who pleaded with the European Parliament to act and also sanction president Museveni and his son like the US did to other security officers over human rights violations.

    It is not yet known whether the European Union will even summon officers in the Ugandan government over the matter.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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