Uganda: MPs set to start debate on Dura cement report

Uganda: MPs set to start debate on Dura cement report
Published: 11 February 2013

Tagged Under: Uganda Dura Cement 

MPs have begun to debate on a highly-billed report about the cancellation of a mining lease that cost taxpayers UGX43.5bn (US$16.4m).

The report, which was tabled by the Public Accounts Committee vice chairperson Maxwell Akora, implicates senior government officials, including the president.

Central in the report is the decision by the government in 2007 to cancel a mining lease that had been awarded to Dura Cement Ltd. According to the report, President Museveni ordered the termination of the contract and instead asked that it goes to Lafarge Hima Cement. In the resultant suit for breach of contract by Dura, the government paid out UGX43.5bn.

Whereas the president told the committee that he ordered the cancellation based on “economic” and “strategic” reasons, the MPs say there is evidence that Kamwenge District, which was to house the mines, has enough limestone to service up to three cement manufacturers. They concluded that the cancellation was uncalled for.

The committee has recommended that Parliament tells the president to “desist from gifting critical national resources to so-called investors free of charge and without following the due process”. The report also advises President Museveni to respect technical advice given by government technocrats instead of relying on briefs from “unofficial sources”.

The MPs, however, want tougher sanctions for current Nyabushozi MP Fred Mwesigye, who was then head of National Enterprises Corporation (NEC), accusing him of facilitating the irregular transfer of the mining lease from NEC to Lafarge without proper tendering. But Col Mwesigye denies any wrongdoing.