Tag Archives: Uganda

Big pharma takes aim at deadly counterfeits

 

By Katie McQue [Source]

GATEWAY TO AFRICA | In Africa the cost of all medications, including generic drugs, exceeds the means of most and many people are faced with a grim choice: purchase counterfeit medications, ingredients unknown, or go without treatment.

With 30% of the total available pharmaceuticals in Uganda believed to be counterfeit, the country, like many others, is struggling to keep control of a business that is both deadly and lucrative.

“A lot of deaths occur. But nobody reports these and nobody is going to investigate,” said Suraj Ali, a partner at the Ugandan legal firm Muwema & Mugerwa.

The situation in Uganda is typical in much of sub-Saharan Africa, and the reasons are economic. In regions of high prevalence of poverty the cost of all medications, including generic drugs, exceeds the means of most. Few people have medical insurance, and they are faced with a grim choice: purchase counterfeit medications – ingredients unknown – or simply go without treatment.

The big pharmaceutical firms are worried. “When you visit a market in Tanzania, you see that they are being sold everywhere,” Ed Wheatley, AstraZeneca’s investigations director for the region, said at June’s Visiongain Pharmaceutical Anti-Counterfeiting conference, in which representatives from major drug makers gathered to deliberate the problem.

This big problem is also a big business – it is widely estimated that counterfeit drugs have an annual turnover of US$75 billion worldwide, with a profit margin of about 70%. This means that the global share of counterfeit medications is 10% of the pharmaceutical market. Around the world 200,000 people die annually due to counterfeits.

Most of the fakes hail from factories in China, India and Pakistan, and counterfeiters are more concerned with matching the packaging than the ingredients of the original. Criminals steal hospital vials with branded labels, print their own hologrammed boxes – even buy tablet-making presses on eBay.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 32.1% of these drugs do not contain any active ingredients; 20.2% have incorrect quantities of active ingredients; 21.4% include wrong ingredients and 8.5% have high levels of impurities or contaminates.

The loss of sales and reputation is significant, as users of the fake drugs may still associate their illness with the genuine article. In some countries, drug makers can also be liable for harm caused by fakes.

In Germany, for example, a company can be called to account if it can be proven that it did not utilise all the possibilities provided by state-of-the-art technology to prevent counterfeiting. In most US states, any part of the manufacturing and sales chain can be liable for damages to the consumer arising from faults in a product’s construction, manufacturing or labelling.

Given this risk it is understandable why pharmaceutical companies are keen to intervene in the African counterfeit market. Some assist local governments with on-the-ground intelligence, leading to raids and prosecutions. This assistance is necessary in countries where awareness is low, resources devoted to the problem are scarce and corruption is high.

“There is a lot of corruption,” Ali said. “A lot of the magistrates are underpaid and they get bribed.

“We have a national drug authority that is supposed to prevent counterfeiting, but it is underfunded,” he added. “There are very few inspectors; they don’t have the equipment to check drugs properly… Things find their way into the country – the borders are very porous.”

 


Kony2012:an attempt to further the US's economic and military interests in Africa.

 

By Tom Rollins Published 08 March 2012 18:02 SOURCE

If you do anything on the back of watching Kony 2012, the new viral sensation currently embarassing the world wide web, it’s to investigate exactly who or what is behind it and why people have been so taken in.

US charity Invisible Children wants the Ugandan Lords’ Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony, responsible for forced recruitment of thousands child soldiers and sex slaves, brought to justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

I actually find it amazing that people can suddenly care so much about an issue that they presumably have a superficial awareness of already, just because of a social media campaign led by Twitter and Facebook twinned with a campaign that aims its cross-hairs on the western all-feeling heart.

How many people have seen Blood Diamond? On its opening weekend in January 2007 it took £1,471,104, two months later it had grossed £7,269,409. One of the main sub-plots of the film, amidst vicious militias, is saving Dia Vandy, an abducted child soldier, before returning him to his family.

This is not a new issue, nor is our awareness of it.

Aside from Invisible Children’s suspect finances (pay $32 for an “Action Kit” and 10% of that goes to “direct services,” the rest on salaries, travel expenses and so on), worse is the fact so many people could be duped by a video that explicitly calls for US-led intervention in Central Africa. Invisible Children wants its young and beautiful activist community to directly fund the Ugandan army (itself guilty of atrocities against civilians, according to Human Rights Watch reports), which will be led by “American advisers.”

For someone who portrays himself as a good Dad and a great all-round guy, Jason Russell is peculiarly fond of using Pentagonese, the opaque, Orwellian language of the military-industrial complex that gave us “collateral damage” (civilian dead), “immediate permanent decapitation” (death) and “pacification” (destruction).

What are these advisers going to be advising about? Who will their advice be advised to? Will it be good advice?

If Invisible Children is anything to go by, probably not. Because Russell and his Hipstomatic-schmaltz wants “direct foreign intervention” in Central Africa – that means boots on the ground, drones and jets in the air and the next inevitable step in America’s programme of endless war.

You would think we had learned something after Afghanistan and Iraq, wars that have already killed over 1 million innocent people with a 90 per cent civilian to combatant death rate, and a “textbook” intervention in Libya which has resulted in regime change and with it the total destabilisation of yet another Middle Eastern country. This, as they say, is what democracy looks like.

A coincidence, perhaps, but the United States military has been running an extensive continent-wide programme under AFRICOM, the United States African Command. This includes a string of new drone airfields in the Horn of Africa (conveniently in-land enough to deal with Uganda and Kenya too), and the trans-Saharan Operation Enduring Freedom, to “fight al Qaeda in the Maghreb.”

But what about Central Africa? Last October President Obama deployed around 100 US special ops troops to Central Africa, reportedly “to assist African forces in the removal of [LRA leader] Joseph Kony and the leadership of the LRA from the battlefield.” Perhaps these are Russell’s faceless “US advisers.”

And yet there has been no reported (and verified) LRA activity in Uganda since 2006, and it is widely accepted that Kony is no longer in Uganda. Does the west really want to inflame another region by pursuing a small, embattled radical organisation and giving it indispensable credibility and victimhood?

There is clearly more than Kony at stake here. Central Africa is well known for its rich natural resources – including copper, cobalt, gold, uranium, magnesium and tin. Once ravaged by King Leopold II of Belgium, the 21st-century American Empire now wants in.

At an AFRICOM Conference at Fort McNair on February 18, 2008, Vice Admiral Robert T. Moeller declared the programme’s mission meant maintaining “the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market.”

Not only that. Ugandan President Yower Museveni has for some time courted Iran and President Ahmadinejad “in all fields.” This is the new Scramble for Africa – a sick twist of history in which global powers are returning to old hunting grounds and fiefdoms in preparation for a new proxy war.

If Invisible Children does not turn out to be some Pentagon-CIA front, the charity is still attempting to align social media, activism and youth political disengagement with the United States’ hawkish economic and military interests in Africa.

So please, don’t be fooled.

 


Obama Lies,Kony Dies : Oil Wars

 

SOURCE

I’m starting to think I’m paranoid.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about U.S. special forces invading Africa in an undeclared war against the Lord’s Resistance Army.

The point of my article was that the world is running out of oil, and that formally forgotten or politically-unfeasible locations were now in play…

These areas include South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Somalia.

I went on to say the world wasn’t paying much attention to this — and that you could make a lot of money off it.

I Stand Corrected

Today Joseph Kony is among the top ten Twitter trends and number three on Google searches, knocking off the usual fusillade of silicone celebrities.

For those of you who don’t Tweet, Kony is a tin-pot rebel leader with a long history of atrocities.

He is head of a dwindling movement called the Lord’s Resistance Army which is trying to install a government in Uganda based on the Ten Commandments.

He is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court. His forces have been known to massacre whole villages, cut noses, ears, and hands off people, and force children into sex slavery and war.

Kony is about as evil as they come and should be disemboweled, dipped in honey, and tied to an ant hill… or at the very least, tried and hung.

And as I said, about 100 members of Delta Force are hunting him in the Ugandan jungle. I imagine they are getting close.

More Lies from Obama

Maybe I’m overthinking things, but yesterday our fine president said: “Oil is the fuel of the past.”

He went on, “We need to invest in the technology that will help us use less oil in our cars and our trucks, and our buildings, and our factories. That’s the only solution to the challenge. Because as we start using less, that lowers the demand, prices come down. Pretty straightforward.”

This guy is either lying… or stupid.

Gas prices are the highest they have ever been at this time of year.

According to Obama’s own government agency, the EIA, gasoline prices averaged $3.84 for March 5, 2012.

But according to MasterCard’s SpendingPulse report — which has direct data on gasoline purchases — demand has been falling for years!

Bloomberg reports:

“Drivers bought 8.37 million barrels a day of gasoline in the seven days ended March 2. Purchases totaled 58.6 million barrels, the 10th week in a row that demand fell below 60 million. That’s a record,” John Gamel, a gasoline analyst and director of economic analysis for SpendingPulse, said…

Gasoline use was down 6.5 percent from a year earlier, the 26th consecutive week demand was lower than year-earlier levels.

Demand over the previous four weeks was 6.3 percent below the same period in 2011. That’s the 50th consecutive decline in that measure and the biggest drop since February 2010.

Just Wrong

So what our Commander in Chief says is not only wrong, but not “straightforward” at all.

Gasoline prices are hitting record highs and demand is hitting record declines.

Reality is the exact opposite of what our highest hypocrite says it is.

This is no surprise really — and I’m not here to bash Obama.

He is a politician; I price in the fact that he will lie to my face.

I don’t expect Obama to talk about Bernanke’s printing press and the real reason the price of oil is skyrocketing in dollar terms. But today, my friend, I’m delving into conspiracies and the government spin machine that generates them.

Last week, no one cared about Africa or Joseph Kony.

Then Obama starts talking about the price of gasoline…

Three days ago, the U.S. Customs Enforcement said that it can seize any domain name: .com, .org, .net…

And today, Joseph Kony is beating out the usual parade of vapid sluts on Twitter and Google.

People are suddenly outraged by this guy who has been around for 20 years. My guess is that “Free Uganda” will replace “Free Tibet” on bra-less co-eds’ Earth Day T-shirts.

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The Quest for Oil

According to The Economist, Uganda expects to earn $2 billion a year from oil by 2015.

But there is more oil in South Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia… lots of shallow basin oil that has never been touched.

I’ve written before about the East African Rift oil basin. You know about the secret drone strikes against Al-Qaeda in Somalia and the increase in troop strength in the U.S.’s Africa Command AFRICOM located in Djibouti.

Now you know about the concerted propaganda push against one of the last remnants of the Cold War: a jungle fighter with 300 or 1,000 followers who happens to be in the way of energy extraction.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for it. More oil, less death and destruction, and massive opportiunties for Crisis & Opportunity readers.

Everybody wins.

Somali Oil

I’ve found one 11-cent company that is drilling in the Puntland region of Somalia. Well, it’s a 20-cent company now…123

Their well is down to 2,002 meters of a designed 3,800 meters.

They reported yesterday: “The well is currently drilling a 400 meter section composed of inter-bedded sandstones and shales believed to be Upper Cretaceous in age. Most of the sandstone intervals in this section have exhibited oil and gas shows confirming the existence of a working petroleum system.”

Locals Support the Drilling

According to the BBC:

Farah Hassan Atosh, a traditional elder and resident of Armo town, 28 kilometers northwest of the oil field, said: “We are expecting great things. It will change our lives for the better. Insh’Allah [God willing] we will never depend on others to give us food again. You can see many more people arriving every day and it can only add to the development of the town.”

Drilling began in January 2012, and locals support the project, he said.

“We not only support it, we will defend it from anyone who wants to stop it. They are employing many young men who would have been idle and easy prey for recruitment into militias.”

Obama wants to get reelected. Taking out bad guys, pacifying East Africa (including his ancestral homeland of Kenya), and increasing the supply of oil won’t hurt.

I’m guessing Kony is either dead or will be dead soon.

Look forward to Obama claiming another victory against terrorism and new oil discoveries in Uganda over the next month or so.

 


The Kony Scam:Funded by Chase Bank and Big Oil

 

You have probably seen or heard about the Kony 2012 campaign. The professionally produced advertising campaign from Invisible Children has gone viral to demand that a Ugandan rebel leader, Joseph Kony, turn himself in for war crimes.

The video makes a compelling, emotional appeal based on a simplified, yet reasonably accurate history of child soldiers in Kony’s “The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Invisible Children would like the US to be more involved in bringing Joseph Kony to justice.

Let’s look at the context. As with most politics, it’s a bit complex. It gets exciting near the end, I promise.

The British established a colony in Uganda, and entrusted the Acholi tribe with the military power to keep the peace.

In 1986, Ugandan President Tito Okello, a member of the Acholi tribe was overthrown in a violent revolution by Yoweri Museveni, a corrupt Marxist dictator who quickly outlawed political opposition. Religion is also a factor: the Acholis are Catholic, and Museveni is a born-again Christian.

In Uganda, peaceful political parties and protests are illegal.

Without any ability to form an opposing political party, many Acholis initially supported Joseph Kony‘s rebellion. But Kony’s popularity failed when he began to brutally enforce his own strict version of Catholicism on his tribe to create a new government based on his interpretation of the 10 Commandments.

When his popularity dissipated, Kony turned to forced recruitments. It’s estimated that Kony’s forces have kidnapped between 60 to 100,000 children since 1986, often killing their parents in the process.

Uganda (a Catholic and born-again Christian country) has sided with South Sudan (also Christian) in their struggle for freedom against Northern Sudan (predominantly Muslim). In retaliation, Northern Sudan began funding Joseph Kony in the mid-1990′s.

Now, the war in Sudan has reached an unstable truce. After the International Criminal Court issued an indictment against Joseph Kony, Northern Sudan cut off his funding. Joseph Kony has disappeared, and is probably no longer in Uganda. Many believe he is hiding in the African bush, probably in Congo. The fact is – Kony is no longer leading an army or kidnapping child soldiers.

So, here’s the big question: Why does Invisible Children want the United States and the United Kingdom focused on a retired rebel leader, Joseph Kony, when there are still many other active child armies in other countries?

Joseph Kony has been kidnapping children since 1986 (over 26 years) why should we care now? What has changed?

OIL.

In 2005, oil was discovered in Uganda. Tullow Oil has been planning to pump 200,000 barrels of oil per day, but the Marxist President Yoweri Museveni’s administration is now very unstable and reeling from bribery scandals. The political instability and existence of the Lord’s Resistance Army, has slowed the plans to produce oil.

In 2008, the United States military assisted financially and logistically during the unsuccessful Operation Lightning Thunder to stop Kony.

In May 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act that made it American policy to kill or capture Joseph Kony and to crush his rebellion.

In October 2011, Obama authorized the deployment of approximately 100 combat-equipped U.S. troops to central Africa. Their goal is to help regional forces remove Kony and senior LRA leaders from the battlefield.

JP Morgan, Chase Bank, and Exxon Mobil

Chase Bank contributed $1 million to Invisible Children to help them produce the KONY 2012 campaign, among other programs. AND JP Morgan Chase is also a major investment banker of Tullow Oil.. That’s right, the oil company that needs US military help to pump oil out of Uganda.

Exxon Mobil is now a major partner in the oil drilling operation in Uganda. JP Morgan and Chase Bank are intimately tied to Exxon Mobil through the Rockefeller family with corporate board members sharing positions in both companies.

Invisible Children Fails to Meet Standards for Charities

The Better Business Bureau has strongly criticized Invisible Children for its lack of transparency.

“I don’t understand their reluctance to provide basic information,” says H. Art Taylor, President and CEO of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. “The whole point of the effort is to shine the light of truth on a terrible atrocity, and yet they seem to be reluctant to turn that light on themselves. It’s really unfortunate.”

Only 37% of the money raised by Invisible Children goes to the communities that desperately need the money in Uganda.

Conclusion

Invisible Children may be a legitimate charity interested in helping the people of Uganda, but they are being used by oil companies and banks to encourage American military intervention in Uganda.

Before you donate to a cause, or even forward a video, learn about the real issues. The underlying cause of Joseph Kony’s rise to power is the Marxist President Yoweri Museveni’s ban on legitimate politcal opposition, and the support by foreign governments like Sudan. Arresting Joseph Kony may help encourage peace, but the real answer is political and economic reform inside Uganda.

Sending US military troops is not the answer to every political problem in the world.

Short URL: http://occupythe99percent.com/?p=12577

 


Uganda: Report on oil sector bribery scandal missing

 

A police file on Cabinet ministers accused of pocketing millions of dollars in kickbacks from foreign oil companies cannot be traced, it emerged yesterday.

While the President last year had told Parliament that an investigation by police found the documents incriminating ministers Sam Kutesa (Foreign Affairs), Hilary Onek (Internal Affairs) and Amama Mbabazi (Prime Minister) in bribery scandals forged, a senior police officer told MPs on the Ad hoc Committee on oil that there is no report.

Assistant Inspector General of Police Asan Kasingye also told the Committee that the officer who investigated the matter has since been sent on a study leave out of the country.

Mr Kasingye, who is the new director Interpol, said Mr John Ndungutse, the former head of the Counter-Terrorism Unit, did the investigations as a special assignment but no report has ever been produced on his findings.

“The IGP made a statement that there were investigations into the bank accounts in Malta and Dubai linked to some ministers but I have not seen any report. “When IGP instructed me to come (to the Committee), he did not tell me whether there is any report to be presented. The officer who carried these investigations is in USA studying at the FBI academy”

Cecilia Ogwal (Dokolo Woman, FDC) and Committee chairperson Michael Werikhe (Bungokho South, NRM) insisted that Kayihura be summoned to clarify on the missing report.

The Committee accused the police of connivance and demanded that the report be tabled to prove that the documents tabled in Parliament by Gerald Karuhanga (Youth Western) were fake.

In October last year during a special session to debate the oil sector, Mr Karuhanga presented documents alleging that ministers Kutesa, Onek, and Mbabazi had received bribes from oil companies.
The ministers, however, deny any wrongdoing.

By Yasiin Mugerwa, Daily Monitor

 


Towards a Time Bound Legislative Agenda for Effective Oil Governance and Avoiding the Oil Curse (Uganda)

 

Communiqué Issued at the Closing of the High Level Policy Dialogue on Oil Governance in Uganda

1. The High Level Policy Dialogue on Oil Governance in Uganda took place in Jinja, Uganda on November 30 –December 1, 2011. The Dialogue was attended by over 120 participants including Members of Parliament and representatives of civil society, cultural leaders, and representatives of local government from the Republic of Uganda, Republic of Ghana and United Republic of Tanzania. The overall goal of the Dialogue was to promote the adoption and efficient implementation of transparency and accountability measures in Uganda policy and legal regime on oil and gas.

2. The participants attending the final session of the dialogue hereby adopt this statement as an expression of consensus on issues, declarations and commitments arising out of the deliberations from the dialogue.

3. That the discovery of oil and gas in Uganda presents a tremendous opportunity for the country to access much needed resources to overcome major social, economic and infrastructure challenges confronting the country. The revenues from oil and gas will enable strategic investment in key areas such as infrastructure, education, health and agriculture.

4. Recognize that Government has made commendable investments and progress in promoting the development of the oil and gas sector and urge government to continue with more purposefulness and openness in handling all matters regarding the development and production of oil and gas resources in the country.

5. TAKE NOTE of the fact that Uganda’s oil and gas sub-sector is still characterized by suspicion arising from undue secrecy and lack of transparency , accountability and integrity, especially with regard to PSAs which is a source of tension and mistrust between the executive, parliament, civil society and citizens.

6. TAKE COGNIZANCE of the encouraging progress made by the Government of Ghana in establishing the appropriate institutional and legal framework for the governance of Ghana’s oil and gas resources. The participants also take note of the excellent work done by the Parliament of Ghana in ensuring that the laws presented before it were debated and passed with appropriate safeguards, transparency and accountability provisions.

7. Reiterate that oil is a national resource and a matter of national interest, In this regard, the participants recognize that decision making and governance of oil and gas resources and management of oil and gas revenues should be above any political affiliation, ethnic alliances, tribal affiliations or any other partisan interests.

AND THEREFORE

8. CALL upon the Government of Uganda to expeditiously present before parliament the appropriate legislation for the governance of oil and gas resources as required by article 244 of the constitution and the relevant resolutions of Parliament on this matter.

9. COMMIT ourselves to work together in ensuring that Members of Parliament and other stakeholders are fully trained and equipped to facilitate meaningful deliberations on the proposed oil and gas legislation.

10. DECLARE our unreserved commitment to work together to support all government actions that promote the good governance of the oil and gas sub-sector and to challenge and oppose any government or corporate actions that have the direct or indirect impact of undermining transparency and accountability in the oil and gas sub sector.

11. ACKNOWLEDGE the common but differentiated responsibilities of the executive, the legislature, the civil society, the media and other interest groups in ensuring that the natural resources of our countries and in particular oil and gas resources are developed, exploited and utilized for the benefit of our people and in the national interest of our countries.

12. INVITE our governments to ensure that the development and exploitation of oil and gas resources take into account the need to make full use of the gas resources and to ensure that gas flaring is avoided on account of the negative environmental consequences arising from gas flaring activities but most importantly the opportunities presented by gas resources.

13. CALL upon the Government of Uganda to honor its policy commitment to subscribe to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) as set out in the national oil and gas policy and to expeditiously take appropriate action to join the Initiative.

14. CALL upon Government of Uganda to investigate cases regarding temporary and permanent expropriations of land belonging to individuals and communities in the Albertine Graben and ensure that prompt, adequate and fair compensation is provided as prescribed in Uganda’s constitution.

15. COMMIT ourselves to take measures and actions required to build mutual confidence and trust between the executive, the legislature, the civil society and citizens as a major building block for effective policy and legislation in the oil and gas sub-sector.

16. Extend our appreciation to the colleagues from the Republic of Ghana and the United Republic of Tanzania for their participation and sharing of experiences that provide important lessons for the development of Uganda’s oil and gas sub-sector.

17. Extend our appreciation to the Parliamentary Forum on Oil and Gas (PFOG) and the member organizations of the Civil Society Coalition on Oil (CSCO), Publish What You Pay-Uganda (PWYP-U), and Oil Watch Network who provided the financial and intellectual resources that made the convening of this dialogue possible.

Jinja, Uganda December 1, 2011 Source

 


Uganda: Guns in Oil Region

In less than a month, the UPDF top brass and top spies have held two unusual security meetings in the oil region. During one of the meetings, on May 23 Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) of the UPDF in Fort Portal announced that the army was keeping an eye on the oil region in order to guard the country’s natural resources, particularly against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

Hardly two weeks later, the military top brass held another meeting in Hoima District in the heart of Uganda’s oil region. Army spokesman Felix Kulayigye said the closed meeting was meant to appraise the security situation in the region.

“Leaders both political and security in Bunyoro sub-region ought to be aware that there is a threat of ADF across in Congo which has grown in numbers, capacity because in eastern Congo, there a gap in terms of state control,” Kulayigye said, adding, “indeed this region has experienced the coming of refugees as a result of the war in DRC, which has had its own security problems in terms of crime, land conflicts that are also challenges to stability within the districts in this region.”

It is not clear if the security agencies have information about a new threat but the likelihood of a resurgence of attacks from the ADF, a rebel group that as recent as 2008 attacked a school–Kicwamba Technical Institute–and burnt 80 students to death may explain the army’s heavy presence here.

UPDF has hundreds of men at detaches in Kyangwali in Hoima district, which the force plans to expand into a fully-fledged barracks, and another one in Butiaba in neighbouring Buliisa District–which sources say also works as a training ground.

In recent years, President YoweriMuseveni’s government has increased its military budget in what is said to be a need to secure the country’s nascent oil industry – quite logical given that it is located in a politically unstable region bordering DR Congo and Sudan.

According to a diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks on March 13, 2008, Uganda is said to have requested the US government for assistance to train and equip a lake security force, which could enforce Uganda’s territorial waters, protect Uganda’s oil assets, and reduce violent incidents.

The President has justified the purchase of the six Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets at a whopping $740m with suggestions that they will shield Ugandans from external aggression. “The jets are the minvuli [ambrellas] for Uganda,” President Museveni told opposition MPs who were complaining about the cost of the jets at his State-of-the-nation address, recently “When it is raining you need minvuri to protect you.”

Family control

As if to close any security breaches, the Special Forces Group — an elite force headed by the First Son, Col. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, has been deployed to be in-charge of overall security in the oil region. Locals say there have been increased boat patrols on Lake Albert, an increase in plain-clothed intelligence operatives and that access restrictions on ordinary people to the oil region have also increased.

The oil installations and several check-points like the one at Biiso, are manned by the UPDF, a clear indication that the army is in charge of security in the oil region.

However, while most people would see the tight security as justifiable given the need to guard investments worth millions of dollars and of course the 2.5 billion barrels of oil that have potential to transform Uganda’s economy, the debate is on whether military presence and army activity here are commensurate to the threat of the ADF or if it is sheer intimidation in a bid to suffocate popular demands.

UK-based anti-corruption watchdog, Global Witness, in a 2010 report described the President’s son control of the forces guarding the oil area and his brother General Saleh’s private security company guarding some of the sites as “personalised militarisation of the oil industry”, which it said was one of the “red-flag warning signals” in the country’s oil sector that should seriously worry its donors and its citizens.

“The responsibility for guarding the oil areas should be removed from the army’s Special Forces unit,” the report notes, “The control of the Unit by the son of the President represents a fundamental conflict of interests and deviation of democratic standards.”

In April, the Inspector General of Police, Lt Gen. Kale Kayihura, while appearing before the Parliamentary Ahoc committee investigating the oil sector, revealed that following President Museveni’s directive, a special police unit–the Directorate of Oil and Gas Protection–was established to cater for the security of the Albertine Region. His boss, State Minister of Internal Affairs, James Baba also announced that the government would withdraw the soldiers and have them replaced by the oil unit.

However, months after the police unit was established and deployed to the oil region, critics wonder why the army is still present and taking charge of security in the oil region. As a result, there is a cocktail of various forces–police, military, intelligence and private security groups in the oil region–something many players are unhappy about.

Unhappy Banyoro

At the beginning of this year, religious leaders from Bunyoro, Acholi and Rwenzori sub-regions during a meeting under the Inter Religious Council of Uganda in Hoima Town, demanded the army’s exit from the region–claiming it was limiting their access to oil installations and thereby hampering their advocacy role. They wanted the army replaced by the police unit on oil and gas.

But Kulayigye, the Army spokesman, could not take any of that. “If anybody is well-intentioned, why should they demand the removal of security from the Albertan area where there is oil?” Kulayigye asked in a recent interview with a local newspaper. “Do they want to preach to the oil?”

Abbas Byakagaba, the police chief in charge of the oil and gas unit, told The Independent in a recent interview that he did not see any problem with the army being in the region.

“This is the Uganda army, where do they want it to be?” he asks. “It is a matter of collaboration and there are many roles to be played.”

Micheal Werikhe, the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee of Parliament who also heads the Adhoc Committee on Oil, also said he did not see any problem with the army presence because they are there for general security purposes.

But civil society activists see it as a big problem. The accumulation of guns in the oil region, they argue, is not a good sign but a harbinger of conflict like has been the case in Southern Sudan and other countries.

The activists also say that Uganda needs to avoid situations like in DR Congo, Nigeria, Liberia where the military has aided oil companies to violate human rights, distort the environment in the pursuit of their business interests.

“It is very dangerous when you have people who are trained for direct combat doing policing work,” says Henry Bazilla, the chairman of the Civil Society Coalition for Oil and Gas (CSCO), “they are making it hard to access the area and hinder the public’s oversight function.”

Deadly mix

Analysts say the region could see an escalation in migration, land disputes and social disruption leave alone border tensions with neighbouring countries, which the security build up won’t address. More guns in the area means more instability, not less, they say.

The thorny issues in the oil region in recent times have been sharing oil royalties, land grabbing, lost livelihoods, and environmental degradation due to oil waste – issues that the government has so far not been able to engage politically and which activists fear, it would want to deal with using military might.

Dickens Kamugisha, who heads the Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), says it is creating anxiety. “There would be no problem with the government policy of providing security but such a presence of the army is militarization, it creates uncertainty and raises questions as to what is there that cannot be protected by the police.”

Kamugisha says that the militarization points to politicization of the sector. “Oil has been turned into a security issue that can only be handled by only top government officials,” he says. “This can only be justified if the government assures people that the Albertine has gone beyond what can be handled by police.”

But the UPDF hierarchy is adamant that the reinforcement in security is meant to deal with the rebel outfit ADF, which has been said to be “regrouping with intensions of attacking the country and thus the need to be ready for any eventualities.”

However, analysts say if they consider the oil region to be dangerous then they must begin answering some of the questions Ugandans are now asking – because that is where the most insecurity lies.

A report titled, “Oil Extraction and the Potential for Domestic Instability in Uganda,” which was released last year by American professors, Jacob Kathman and Megan Shanon, indicated that President Museveni’s strategy of looking at insecurity from across the borders is mistaken because the biggest danger could be internal. The report notes that the primary security threat posed to Uganda lies in the domestic effects of large-scale oil exploitation – not far-fetched given that the majority of people in Bunyoro believe that barring the recent oil activities, their region has suffered historical abuses and has been marginalized by the government for decades.

Those claims could have credence. Earlier this month, the Omukama of Bunyoro Solomon GafabusaIguru, stormed Parliament demanding a share of 12.5% of all revenue that will accrue from the oil industry in the region as royalties payable to the Kingdom. He said the Bills being discussed in Parliament were silent about the royalties.

Naturally, such talk is what President Museveni does not want to hear from the Bunyoro kingdom leadership for fear that it could arouse resentment among locals, which could eventually pose a security threat. And he has intelligence people on the ground to listen out for any such negative voices. For instance, the office of the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) in Hoima has warned Bunyoro Local Oil Advocacy Group (BLOAG)–a pressure group on oil over alleged incitement. Officials at the office believe that BLOAG is being used as a platform to incite the community to sabotage the ongoing oil exploration.

Civil society restless

Analysts say the government is worried that the ADF could take advantage of the public discontent over the oil activities in the region to recruit disgruntled locals into the rebel outfit. This, it is feared, could plunge the region into perpetual insecurity, which could send the country several decades backwards.

AFIEGO’s Kamugisha suggests that the government should guard against human rights violations and maginalising the communities in the oil region because these can be a source of reinforcements for the ADF or create own militias.

Bazilla agrees. He says militias emerge mainly when citizens feel cheated. “It is people who will have acquired skills and feel that they can cause trouble if they do not benefit and feel cheated, that is why the government needs to be transparent,” he says. He adds that the extractive companies are not angelic–they have in some countries like Congo and Liberia financed conflict because they like going about their business without scrutiny.

Indeed, Bazilla’s fears are not far-fetched. In a recent report titled, ‘Righting Resource-curse wrong in Uganda: The case of oil Discovery and the Management of Popular Expectations, the Economic Policy Research Centre at Makerere University, alluded to unrest and conflict, noting that oil abundance in developing economies typically generates valuable rents that tend to trigger violent forms of ‘greed-based’ insurgencies and secessionist wars.

Earlier studies elsewhere also showed that the discovery of giant oil fields is likely to fuel internal conflicts in countries with recent histories of political violence. For instance, internal conflict has continued in the oil regions of Nigeria, fuelled by a sense of grievance among the local population, who feel deprived of their ‘fair share’ of the oil revenue.

But it is also a fact that investors expect that their personnel and property must be secure if they are to carry out the exploration and production successfully.

Jimmy Kiberu, the Tullow Oil Uganda, Corporate Affairs manager, says they are working with the government to ensure that security is guaranteed. “We co-operate with the Government of Uganda over security requirements and we also have our own, locally-sourced, security arrangements but overall responsibility for this sensitive and volatile border area must be for the GoU,” he says.

Rights violations

Civil society activists point to an incident in 2007 to illustrate the fears of the community. Last month, Corporate Watch, a research firm based in the UK, released findings of a two year investigation (carried out by Lay) indicating that Heritage Oil, a British company, was to blame for the shootout in which the UPDF killed six Congolese civilians on a passenger boat sailing to Congo.

Uganda authorities however; deny anything to do with the deaths insisting that they just exchanged fire with Congolese troops.

But the report quotes a senior UN source saying that Uganda’s claims that the passenger ferry was in fact a Congolese army boat are “complete nonsense” and that it was Heritage’s mistaken panic call to the UPDF that triggered the indiscriminate killing of the civilians.

The investigation unearthed photos – which were published for the first time – showing the bodies of the civilians including a 3-year old child. The investigation is corroborated by a UN report, a Wikileaks cable and a UK Foreign Office email, which were obtained by the international oil watch dog Platform.

“Residents of Rukwanzi reportedly told Corporate Watch on a visit to the island in 2009 that the families of the dead had been promised $100 (about Shs 250,000) in compensation by the Congolese authorities but that the money never arrived. Attitudes towards Uganda have hardened, while many are concerned offshore oil drilling will affect the fishing industry,” says the report.

Following two incidents–one in which a Heritage oil employee was shot dead reportedly by Congolese soldiers and another in which the UPDF is accused of shooting dead six Congolese, coupled with disagreements over who owns Rukwanzi island and the possibility of rebel attacks, the oil region remains a tense zone. But questions will persist as to whether the solution to this tension is such heavy military deployment.

It adds that security agreements for the production of oil by Tullow, China National Offshore Oil Corporation and Total have not been made public but the UPDF has announced plans to build a military base overlooking the lake to provide security for the companies.

Whether or not the army deployments and the avalanche of military hardware would succeed in quelling the public agitation in the region remains to be seen but analysts suggest that transparency, dialogue and involving the people in the oil sector is what will offer better long term security to the region and the country at large

 

Source


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