Uganda: Artisanal miners injured & lose property during violent eviction by govt. security agents to pave way for large investor

Author: Robert Mwesigye, OilinUganda, Published on: 28 August 2017

"Mubende miners count losses after ruthless eviction"

Kawunde Patrick has been in the gold mining business for three years now...On the fateful morning of the Mubende mines eviction, he watched in horror as his livelihood was swept right from under his feet...On that fateful morning his boys were already in the pit working when he was ordered by angry soldiers to get them out and ensure no one stayed down. The miners had been given two hours – though most swear it was hardly an hour – to vacate the mines. Pandemonium reigned as over 50,000 people gathered whatever they could to flee...“Soldiers stopped me from taking anything. I lost three generators; three blowers that supply oxygen down the pit and four drilling machines...I watched as Sh16million of my capital was snatched out of my hands,” he said resignedly with tears welling up in his eyes.

Mr Kawunde is just one of many artisanal miners that lost property and money during the eviction. “People left money in their houses as they fled,” said another miner who identified himself as just Alex. Alex was one of so many business people who fled off the gold value chain. He owned a lodge and bar. He had just spent Shs6million on iron sheets to construct more makeshift rooms. Like many others he left his iron sheets in the mines. “If I had not bought those sheets I would at least have something to start with. I left everything of mine in the mines. I have not changed clothes since we were evicted,” he said.

In his State of the Nation address of 2015 President Museveni assured the miners in Mubende their plight would be addressed...This year, with the eviction looming, negotiations were ongoing as politicians shuffled between State House and Mubende...For now the miners are waiting and hoping that they will be allowed back to operate or at least seize opportunities if an investor starts operations.

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