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Parliament Approves Gov’t Monopoly On Manufacture Of Explosives

Parliament has passed into law the Explosives Bill 2023, with one of the provisions giving the Government monopoly over the ownership of the manufacture of explosives, a move lawmakers say is intended to fight terrorism in Uganda.

Government had proposed to monopolise ownership of explosives plants in Uganda by proposing in clause 14(2) to have a person licensed to establish or operate an explosives factory or manufacturing plant, unless the explosives factory or manufacturing plant is owned by a government entity or partly owned by a government entity, with the government entity having the majority shares and the controlling interest.

While presenting the report by Parliament’s Defence and Internal Affairs Committee, Wilson Kagyenje (Nyabushozi County) warned that any attempts by Parliament to legalize this monopoly, would be running counter to the provisions in the constitution and the right to do business, adding that the requirement under Clause 14 seems to dictate the majority shareholding of explosives manufacturing plants under the ownership of the government, regardless of whether a private investor is unwilling to Partner with government.

“This arrangement will create monopoly for the government in the manufacture of explosives, which would lock out private investor. Should the government not have priority to invest in an manufacturing plant, the interested private investor wouldn’t set up the factory. The Committee, therefore, posits that the role of Government is to keep an oversight role on the manufacture of explosives and put reasonable conditions for those interested in the manufacture of explosives to abide with,” said Kajwengye.

However, the proposal by the Committee was protested by Jackson Kafuuzi, Deputy Attorney General asked the Committee to maintain the provision in the bill by having maintain majority shares in an explosives factory for purposes of preventing any abuse of explosives by terrorists.

“The abuse of commercial explosives may threaten the security of the country hence the need of Government to have a full control hence the need for government to have a full control interests in the explosives factory,” said Kafuuzi.

He was backed by Dickson Kateshumbwa (Sheema Municipality)  who argued that explosives aren’t ordinary tradeable items and any attempts to dilute the provisions proposed by Government would endanger Uganda’s security.

“World over because of information, we have people who are endangering security. They have information and they can get raw materials and manufacture explosives weapons that can endanger the country. This isn’t something we should pray around. We shouldn’t dilute this provision, we must have government take control because who are you making these explosives for, it should be government. Otherwise, you are opening up challenges to national security,” explained Kateshumbwa.

James Mugira (UPDF Representative) asked Parliament to deal with this proposed provision in the same breath as national security, revealing that many terrorists, including Allied Defence Forces (ADF) used ammonium nitrates to manufacture bombs that they used to carry out an attack on Parliamentary Avenue in 2021.

“I saw article 42 in the constitution that is being talked about, that article deals with economic rights. They are making reference to business and investment, but this isn’t a question for business or investment. And I believe that is why you referred this matter to the committee of defence and internal affairs and not the committee of trade. What we are handling now should be part and parcel of the national counter-terrorism and this clause should be left as it is,” said Mugira.

Kajwengye conceded defeat, prompting Parliament to approve the provisions, thus giving the Government monopoly over the manufacture of explosives.

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