EALA in push to harmonise the regional mining laws

Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources are conducting public hearings on a bill that in intended to harmonise laws related to the mining sector within the East African Community (EAC).

The Bill titled, The East African Community Mining Bill 2017 was moved by Chris Opoka-Okumu, one of Uganda’s nine representatives at the regional parliament, with an objective of providing a legal framework for the regulation of mining activities in the EAC.

Split in six groups, the committee has held public hearings meetings in all the six EAC partner states – Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan with an intention of providing an avenue to the regional stakeholders to participate in the community’s legislative process.

Committee chairperson Mathias Kasamba said, the public hearings are in line with Article 7 of the EAC Protocol which emphasises the principle of people centred legislation.

He said, views from the public hearings will be compiled into a report that the committee will table during the second reading of the Bill at the next sitting of EALA.

Mathias Kasamba and Leonardo Anne Itto (South Sudan) during the hearing in Kampala

During the public hearing at Kampala’s Imperial Royale Hotel, participants asked the regional parliament to include a clause in the Bill that addresses the issue of minerals found along the common borders especially in the “No man’s land.”

“The Bill should also consider the issue of smuggling of minerals across countries; we have had cases where Uganda’s minerals are smuggled to Rwanda and they get registered and licenced as Rwandan minerals – Uganda ends up not getting anything out of those minerals,” Jackson Mayanja, an official of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Developments said.

The participants that were drawn from relevant Uganda government ministries and departments, civil society and lawyers also proposed that the Bill should also restrict activities of unqualified persons that present themselves as geologists.