Thomas Tayebwa, who is the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, wants the Natural Resources Committee of Parliament to look into the pollution and the fact that a lot of trees are being cut down in the Mabira Central Forest Reserve in the Buikwe District.
This stems from petitions from residents and area legislators about the massive tree cutting in Mabira Forest and other reserves by individuals who are being shielded by highly placed “political godfathers” in the government.
Diana Mutasingwa, the Buikwe District Woman Member of Parliament, who also doubles as a State Minister in the office of the Vice President, told Tayebwa that the problem facing Mabira needs the urgent attention of Parliament. She accused the National Forestry Authority (NFA) of sleeping on the job.
Also, Jimmy Lwanga, a member of parliament for the Njeru Municipality, said that several factories near Mabira are breaking environmental rules and dumping waste into the forests without being punished.
The legislators informed the deputy speaker that their attempts to seek an audience with NFA and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) have been futile and that they now want Parliament to intervene as soon as possible.
Tayebwa, who visited Buikwe in the company of his wife, Anita Rukundo Tayebwa, and representatives of the Rotary Club of Kampala Central, heard emotional stories about environmental injustices from residents who met him at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Nyenga.
Touched by the story, Tayemba, who was in Buikwe to celebrate his 42nd birthday, initiated a tree-planting crusade to mark a renewed call to plant indigenous tree species to save Mabira. He was shocked by how much damage was done in and around the Mabira Central Forest Reserve.
Tayebwa said he would send the Natural Resources Committee and the Climate Change Committee of Parliament to see how bad the damage was. They would then report back to the House for a discussion about fixing Mabira and punishing the people who did it.
He also criticized a section of Ugandans who masquerade at the international level as climate change activists to siphon funds from western funders, yet they have never planted a single tree back home.
Located between Lugazi and Jinja, Mabira is a rainforest area covering about 300 square kilometers. Since 1932, it has been the biggest piece of semi-evergreen rainforest left in the Victoria Basin forest-savanna mosaic eco-region.
In April 2007, a deadly protest masterminded by Beatrice Atim Anywar, the then Kitgum District Woman MP under the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party, erupted against President Yoweri Museveni’s proposed giveaway of part of the forest measuring 7,100 hectares to the Mehta Group of Companies for expansion of their sugarcane plantation. The protest resulted in the deaths of three people when the crusaders clashed with law enforcement officers.