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MP Nandala helps block motion to degazette forests

Nandala Mafabi

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |Budadiri West Member of Parliament Nathan Nandala Mafabi has this afternoon blocked debate on a motion seeking a resolution of parliament to degazette and gazette forests. The motion had been lined up on the order paper to be presented by Elgon County legislator Ignatius Wamakuyu Mudimi.

Before MP Wamakuyu could table details of his motion, Nandala raised a procedural point saying that anything concerning forests and planting trees is governed under the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act and that the only person who can bring a motion on degazetting or gazetting forests is the minister in charge of forests.

Nandala said that the motion contravenes Article 93 of the Constitution which requires any charge on the Consolidated Fund to be presented by the Executive. He noted that it was not right for a Private Member of Parliament to present the motion.

Nandala added that it should be the responsible Minister to present to parliament, a motion accompanied by the Environmental Impact Assessment and evidence that local communities have agreed to the removal or relocation of the forests, among others.

Nandala further alleged that in his possession are lists of people who have been given land in four different forests, who include members of Parliament, among others.

Water and Environment Minister Sam Cheptoris told parliament that the matter of degazetting and gazetting of forests is extremely sensitive given that the country has already lost a great chunk of forests. He said that since the matter was first brought before parliament in 2016, there have been many changes also noting that there is evidence to the effect that majority of the people advocating for degazettement are doing so for personal interests.

Kadaga proposed that the motion is studied in form of merits and demerits of each forest before it is brought back for debate.

But Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana said that the motion on the face of it seeks to cause parliament to make a resolution to have some forests degazetted and others gazetted which actions are vested in the Minister. He described the motion as incompetent.

Kadaga then directed Minister Cheptoris to come back to parliament by end of January 2019 with a proper motion on the matter.

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