NRM, Opposition MPs Unite in Opposition to Mabira Deal

1141 Views Kampala, Uganda
An anonymous mobile phone text message campaign lobbying for a boycott of all products sold by Mehta Group of Companies is spurring debate in the corridors of parliament. Following the news on Wednesday that the Cabinet had approved a plan to give away 7,000 hectares of Mabira Forest for the expansion of a sugar estate owned by Mehta Group of Companies, an anonymous SMS campaign spread throughout the country calling for a boycott of all Mehta products. It specifically called for a boycott of Lugazi Sugar produced the Sugar Corporation of Uganda, which is owned by Mehta. Some Members of Parliament who spoke to Uganda Radio Network today welcomed the campaign. They said it was outrageous for Cabinet to give away important virgin forest land to a private investor. They said there is plenty of land around the country which could have been sold to Mehta for the expansion of its sugar plantation. Many MPs from the ruling National Resistance Movement said they are willing to risk a possible fall out with their party leadership in order to protect the Uganda's natural resources and environment. MPs Geoffrey Ekanya, Beatrice Atim, Henry Balikoowa and Emma Boona were unanimous in their opposition to the Mabira deal. //Cue in: iWe have lost #i Cue out: i# the immediate tomorrow.i// Mabira Forest Reserve is the largest block of moist semi-deciduous forest remaining in the central region of Uganda. Mehta Group of Companies has remained conspicuously silent on the controversy. The environmental policy available on the company's webpage says it will consider environmental factors in the total acquisition, use and disposal costs in making, planning and purchasing operation. It also pledges to manage land and wetland resources in an environmentally sensitive manner and employ energy efficient technology and procedures. The environmental policy is signed by the Chief Executive Officer of the Sugar Corporation of Uganda, SC Khanna.