Sarah Achieng Opendi, the State Minister for Mineral Development, has vowed to remain steadfast in fighting illegal mining even after she received death threats from people she calls ‘the mafia.”
At the end of last year, Museveni transferred Opendi from the Ministry of Health to that of Mineral Development. But she has often clashed with the Mineral Protection Unit of the Uganda Police Force (UPF) and powerful mining companies.
During the June 18 plenary, Kalungu West MP Joseph Ssewungu submitted that there could be a plan to frustrate Opendi through the Minerals Protection Unit dominated by officers from Western Uganda.
“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,” said Ssewungu.
But the Minister said she was determined to deal with the miners and the mafia gang they work with.
“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,” Opendi told fellow MPs.
In the end, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga ruled that the Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen Jeje Odongo, under whose docket UPF falls should come to Parliament and explain how the Unit was formed and how it operates.
“I have heard about the Mineral Protection Unit. I am shocked it exists because this was not brought to Parliament,” noted the Kadaga.
“The Minister of Internal Affairs should come to Parliament and explain how it was established; its composition; because from the names read to us, it has no national character.”