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Museum and Monuments Bill 2022 returned to Parliament.

Friday, January 13th, 2023


Credit: Freepik

Par­lia­ment at the fi­nal stage of passing a Bill into law as an Act of Parliament sends said Bill to the President for assent. President Museveni has recently held his assent of the recent Museum and Monuments Bill 2022 back to parliament for reconsideration.

As discussed previously, the Act seeks to consolidate and reform the law relating to cultural and natural heritage; to strengthen the administrative structures for the effective management of the cultural and natural heritage.

The President’s reservations stemmed from the fact that Kilembe Mines should not be considered a protected area as stated by the Act because it possesses a mining license and the company is a state enterprise with majority public ownership. 

Kilembe Mines is Uganda’s largest copper mine. In 2015, the managers at Kilembe decided to resume copper extraction and upon said decision, the mine was revived in stages. The president’s concern is based on the fact that if the Kilembe mine is declared a protected area according to the Act, its operations would cease. In other words, the mine’s inclusion in the bill should be deleted as it does not fit the description of a protected area. A few other areas are to be struck off the list of protected areas. These include:

  1. Acherer Gold Mine in Nakapiripirit
  2. Part of Panyimur Sub-County in Pakwach District, which is a fossil site, not the entire sub-county.

“I don’t like museums, there’s nothing to buy”

Violet Trefusis

What are protected areas under the Act?

‘Protected area’ under the Act means a site which has been and remains declared by the Minister to be a protected area. The sites mentioned above are listed under the second schedule as protected sites under the Bill. These sites are protected under Part X of the Bill that provides for the guardianship of sites and monuments, agreement for the protection and preservation of said sites and monuments and discoveries.

The President advised that the following changes be made to the Bill;

  • The definition of a mineral and mineral right in the bill is to be compliant with the Constitution and the Mining and Minerals Act. “Mineral” under the Mining Act means any substance, whether in solid, liquid or gaseous form occurring naturally in or on the earth, formed by or subject to a geological process, but does not include petroleum, water or building minerals. ‘Mineral rights’ means a prospecting licence, an exploration licence, a retention licence, a mining lease or a location licence
  • That the bill makes provision for extensive consultation with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development; the Department of Museum and Monuments and the Ministry of Wildlife and Antiquities for better coordination of mineral exploration and protection of the country’s natural physical features and heritage.
  • The president also advised that a consultation should be done with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development before declaring mining sites protected areas.

The Parliament has the absolute power to pass a Bill into law after following the correct procedure. The assent of the president is the final stage a Bill has to undergo before it passes as an Act of Parliament. In this case, because the President withdrew his assent, the Bill will be taken back to Parliament for consideration.