“Basically what we do is taking advantage that I’m in government, it’s not a conflict of interest, I don’t use my position for conflict of interest issues, but it’s an advantage in itself.” – Jackson Mayanja, TMT Mining and DGSM employee, August 2016
When you thought the Mineral Industry in the Republic of Uganda couldn’t be questioned more. There is a Global Witness report on the subject. That clearly shows signs of common cronyism and National Resistance Movement (NRM) who uses their connections to get better licenses and deals. The NRM and President Museveni, together with family members are in the midst of the transactions surrounding the Mineral Industry. Especially considering also the well-known fact that Ugandan government are helping with exports from South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo. This been done with shaky licensee deals.
The report is spelling how Gen. Salim Selah or President Yoweri Museveni are parts of the inside the mineral trading and export from Uganda. The other NRM cronies and the brown envelopes that pays for the licenses and the insider knowledge of DGSM gives an edge. Instead of being ethical and protocol through the laws, instead it is more of the personal connections the owners of licenses has. Take a look!
Gen. Salim Selah and Ragga Dee connected with minerals:
“Senior political figures appear ultimately to call the shots. Their patronage facilitates access to the sector and allows investors, including political elites, to flaunt the law. In one example, a small group of Belgian and Ugandan businessmen, with close ties to the President, were found to be shipping out hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of gold, apparently paying barely any taxes and failing to disclose the origins of the gold. Their exports may include gold which could be fuelling conflict in neighbouring DRC and South Sudan. In the absence of government data and evidence of rigorous supply chain checks it is not possible to tell” (…) “In one example, an Australian home loans broker with no evident experience of mining, was able to secure licences for over 6000km2 of land (more than any other company or individual Global Witness has seen) by making payments to DGSM officials, and later teamed up with pop star turned businessman, Ragga Dee, who has close ties to the president’s brother Salim Saleh” (Global Witness, P: 7, 2017).
Bwindi National Park:
“One licensee is NRM MP Elizabeth Karungi, whose story is emblematic of how well placed individuals claim to be able to use their political connections for personal gain. The woman representative for Kanungu District told Global Witness that she was able to carry out mining activities in Bwindi because the former tourist minister Maria Mutagamba was a “good good friend.” It is remarkable that the DGSM saw fit to issue her with a licence in this area despite the obvious threat to the wildlife there. In a letter to Global Witness dated January 2017, Mutagamba claimed that she did not know who Elizabeth Karungi MP was, however Karungi was on the Committee of Tourism, Trade and Industry which held meetings with the Minister during her period in office. The DGSM Commissioner told Global Witness that mining activities in national parks require the permission of the Uganda Wildlife Authority”. (Global Witness, P:10, 2017)
Kilembe National Park:
“One of these is the Tibet Hima Mining Company, which won a multi-million dollar contract to re-open the former colonial Kilembe Copper Mines on the border of Rwenzori in 2013. Two DGSM staff told Global Witness that the President instructed the government to partner with Tibet Hima. Global Witness wrote to President Museveni in December 2016 but has not received a response. As part of the deal, Tibet Hima also received two mining exploration licences that run deep into the national park and right up to the DRC border. The DGSM Commissioner told Global Witness that Tibet Hima had been awarded the concession through a competitive bidding process” (…) “As well as obtaining exploration licences inside a World Heritage site, Tibet Hima appears to have been carrying out operations at Kilembe – one of the largest mines in the country – without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which is required by law. The company produced an environmental ‘project brief’ in February 2015, but this did not cover the activities witnessed by Global Witness staff at the site in November 2015” (Global Witness, P: 11-15, 2017).
Africa Gold Refinery:
“African Gold Refinery is run by a small group of Belgian and Ugandan businessmen, including former government minister Richard Kaijuka, who are managing to ship hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of gold out of Uganda without disclosing its origin and paying very little tax in the process. They are the owners and managers of a newly built gold refinery on the shores of Lake Edward near Entebbe airport. Remarkably, Barnabas Taremwa: brother-in-law to Salim Saleh, Museveni’s most famous brother and Uganda’s de facto number two, told Global Witness that he had helped negotiate the company’s huge tax breaks with the government (corroborated by documents seen by Global Witness) and set up supply routes for the refinery” (Global Witness, P: 27, 2017).
“When an undercover Global Witness staff member spoke to Kamuntu in November 2016, he claimed that he continued to export 10,000 tonnes of iron ore a month out of Uganda under the waiver he received from the President. He told us he ships out minerals as “samples” in order to avoid taxes. He explained that he was the only person in Uganda able to export iron ore. He also told Global Witness that he deals in minerals originating from the DRC, labelling them as Ugandan to get around regulations. Kamuntu said that he exports tantalite from the DRC, labelling it as iron ore to pay less tax. If this is true then conflict minerals from Eastern DRC could be entering the international supply chain via Kamuntu’s shipments. Perhaps most remarkable of all is the fact that Kamuntu told us that “as a local person” he had paid US$10,000 to a third party to get a meeting with the President, in order to seek the permission he needed to continue with his business. (The price for foreign investors is US$15,000, according to Kamuntu.) A letter from the President to the Mining Minister explains that the two met at a private Chamber of Mines and Petroleum event. Global Witness wrote to President Museveni and Mr Kamuntu in December 2016 but never received a response” (Global Witness, P: 42, 2017).
“Alain Goetz, who is also the CEO of the company, a Belgian national, is one of the most famous dealers of Congolese gold in recent history. During the 90s the Alain and his father Tony, who died in 2005, were reported as dominating gold exports from the Congo through their networks to Belgium and later Dubai” (…) “Mr Barnabas Taremwa, who previously worked for AGR is the brother in law of Salim Saleh, the President’s brother. AGR told Global Witness in a letter dated January 2017 that Taremwa’s sister and Salim Saleh had divorced three years ago, seemingly in an attempt to distance themselves from the General. However, Salim Saleh told Global Witness that “Barnabas Taremwa is still my brother in law and it is false and an insult to me for you to state that I divorced his sister.” (…) “Richard Henry Kaijuka is the Chairman of AGR.160 According to an article in Africa Energy in June 2011, Mr Kaijuka is “a childhood friend of President Yoweri Museveni, who fell out with the regime after he opposed a controversial constitutional amendment in 2005 that removed presidential term limits.” (Global Witness, P: 73, 2017).
“Ragga Dee, whose real name is Daniel Kyeyune Kazibwe, is a popstar turned businessman, famous as much for being the first musician in Uganda to own a Hummer as he is for his music. Ragga Dee does not appear on any of the company documents relating to Ellie’s companies, however while discussing his business interests in an interview with Uganda’s Observer newspaper in 2015 Ragga Dee said, “I also mine for gold under my other company, Infinity Minerals” (…) “Global Witness has identified two sales of Infinity’s rights to other investors after Ellie left Uganda. In the first instance a company called Afrisam Cement Uganda Limited paid US$75,000 for prospecting access to licence number EL1083 which was held by Infinity” (…) “The whole episode raises serious questions about the way that licences are awarded, the licence transfer process, and the accuracy of the mining cadastre. If the information on the cadastre is inaccurate or wilfully misrepresented this has serious impacts for the governance of the sector. While AfriSam appears to have received its licence through the proper channels at the DGSM questions remain about the way that Sunbird acquired its licence. In a letter dated January 2017, Salim Saleh told Global Witness that the Big Picture Corporation, a company which is part owned by his wife, is “one of the companies which duly applied for, and inherited, the expired Licences previously held by Infinity Minerals Limited, under TN 2370.” According to the Cadastre, however, this application, which was made after the licence had expired, was rejected” (Global Witness, P: 48 – 51, 2017).
“The latest OAG report noted that during the financial year 2015/16, the DGSM assessed royalty and awarded export permits for only 93kgs of gold worth just over US$3 million. However, reports from the Customs and Excise Department of Uganda Revenue Authority indicated that 5,316 kgs of gold had been exported with a total value of US$195 million. Accordingly, Government should have collected between US$2 million and US$9.7 million in royalties depending on the applicable rates of 1% and 5% for the imported or locally mined gold respectively” (Global Witness, P: 74, 2017).
If you didn’t think there was anything fishy in the trades, in the Mineral Ministry and the Mineral Resources Exports in Uganda. This here reports proves the amounts of gold exported combined with the gold extracted. That these numbers doesn’t add-up. This together with the NRM leadership and the closest partners in and around the President. Therefore, it is even his own family involved in the mineral industry. This reports is saying what people and rumors has been, therefore, the implications of the government, the president in the business, and also they are involved in exporting and cleaning conflict minerals for the exporters of South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo. This is not surprising for the ones following the situation. Peace.
Global Witness – Under-Mined (June 2017)