Uganda: Mafias Threatening My Life Over Illegal Mining Fight, Says Minister Opendi

(file photo).

State Minister for Minerals, Ms Sarah Opendi has told Parliament that she has received death threats from anonymous people who she described as mafias promoting illegal gold mining.

Ms Opendi who moved to the docket in January having worked as a State Minister for Health in charge of General Duties, said Thursday that her mission was to clean the mining industry.

However, she said the threats will not frustrate her efforts against illegal mining activities and the violation of rights of other players.

"Concerning the issue of the gold mines, my life has been threatened but I have assured these mafias that before they blow my head, I will have removed them," Ms Opendi said.

The Minister who in recent months has been traversing the different mining areas across the country was responding to a matter raised by Kalungu West MP, Mr Joseph Ssewungu who said there might be deliberate efforts to fail her.

Mr Ssewungu reported to Parliament that he fears the minister may fail to streamline the mining sector because of the sectarianism involved in its management.

"The Minister of Energy may not be able to do much when people from one region are the ones manning the Minerals Protection Unit of the Uganda Police Force," Mr Ssewungu said.

Mr Ssewungu read out the names of senior officers including the zonal commandants in the Minerals Protection Unit saying they all hail from western Uganda.

According to the MP, all the 20 senior officers in the unit are from western Uganda and this, he said may frustrate any effort aimed at streamlining the mining sector, especially if such efforts are deemed by the officers to be against their personal interests.

Ms Opendi said she would not be in position to respond to the allegations though she has also heard about the composition of the Mineral Protection Unit being manned by people from one region.

"I request that you invite the Minister of Internal Affairs (Gen Jeje Odong) because these officers are deployed by the Uganda Police. Otherwise, I have also heard about them," she said.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who said the creation of the Minerals Protection Unit of the police has never been tabled in Parliament, has now invited the Internal Affairs Minister to address the House on the matter.

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