By Alex Esagala
President Yoweri Museveni has hailed the strong resolve of Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa who blasted the European Union Parliament on Thursday for meddling into the sovereign affairs of Uganda and Tanzania with a resolution aimed at halting oil pipeline development.
The President a renowned pillar for Pan-Africanism who has always attacked the western world’s neocolonialism ideas said in a widely viewed Tweet on Friday that if French oil multinational, Total Energies succumbs to EU Parliament pressure, Uganda and Tanzania will find another financier for the pipeline project.
“We should remember that Total Energies convinced me about the Pipeline idea; if they choose to listen to the EU Parliament, we shall find someone else to work with” the President said.
The EACOP measuring 1,443k will transport crude oil from Kabaale in Hoima District in Uganda to the Chongoleani Peninsula near Tanga port in Tanzania before it’s shipped for refining abroad.
However, European environmental activists have in the foreseeable past been pressuring French President Emmanuel Macron’s government not to prevail over Total Energies to pull out of the project. It is against this background that the EU Parliament sitting in Brussels, Belgium on Wednesday passed a resolution demanding that the EACOP development be halted for at least a year so that the two countries make good on what it called environmental and human rights issues.
On Thursday, soft-spoken Tayebwa sounded bitter against this move saying it amounts to “economic racism” for the Europeans who have openly contributed to high carbon emissions to be the ones seeking to block the development of the oil and gas sector in sovereign states Uganda and Tanzania.
“The resolution is based on misinformation and deliberate misrepresentation of key facts on environment and human rights protection. It represents the highest level of neo-colonialism and imperialism against the sovereignty of Uganda and Tanzania” Tayebwa charged.
He said that like many African countries, Uganda is a developing nation with unique development needs and priorities hence asking for the withdrawal of the motion because its ideals are against the UN Charter that gives independent nations a right to self-determination and sovereignty over their natural resources.
This timely response by the Deputy Speaker, Tayebwa and Attorney General, Kiryowa Kiwanuka excited the President who praised them for the job well done in defending the country’s economic interests by lambasting the EU Parliament’s resolution.
“The remarks of the Deputy Speaker and the Attorney General in one of the dailies concerning the EU Parliament and EACOP interested me in making some comments of reassurance to our people” said the President.
He added that; “Either way, we shall have our oil coming out by 2025 as planned. So, the people of Uganda should not worry”
Reiterating Parliament’s support to ensuring that Uganda’s oil begins to flow by 2025 when the EACOP and the oil refinery are set to be complete, Tayebwa hailed the President for giving his thumbs-up to the decision he took to condemn the EU Parliament’s resolution.
“Thank you for reassurance Mr President. Count on our continued support of your efforts to deliver Uganda’s oil by the year 2025” he tweeted on Saturday morning.
Indeed, Uganda is moving towards oil production after the final investment decision was reached months ago. China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) which is developing the King Fisher Oil wells in Kikuube District announced this week that its oil rig that will help bring out oil had docked at Mombasa Port and would soon be in Uganda.
TotalEnergies, the developers of the Tilenga oil field in Buliisa District, has also revealed it is in final stages of assembling the ZPEB Rig 1501, which it will also use to help in oil extraction.
About the resolution
The movers of the motion alleged that the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) both in Uganda and Tanzania had not been compensated yet the governments are asking them to give way for the construction of the Shs14 trillion pipeline.
Total Energies EP as a subsidiary of the French giant is developing oil fields in Nwoya and Buliisa Districts while another subsidiary; Total Holdings International B.V holds 62 percent share in the EACOP holding company.
The Deputy Speaker who has not had kind words to the white environmental activists since he took over office said the western countries should take lead in stopping oil production projects of their own before giving directions on what is happening in Uganda. He said that 70 percent of the PAPs have been compensated and the remaining one will be cleared before EACOP construction commences.
“Various member states in the EU continue exploring, developing and have increased production and use of fossil fuels in recent months. There are over 9000 oil and gas production licenses in the USA, including plans to drill in Alaska and the Arctic sea. Fifty three licenses have recently been issued in the North Sea and Germany has revived its coal plants” Tayebwa added.
Taywebwa has continued to receive enormous support with Ugandans taking to social media to condemn the EU Parliament decision. We have sampled a number of Tweets that have shown solidarity with the Deputy Speaker.
Elly Karuhanga, the Chairman of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum tweeted thus; “I see a positive angle emerging from the EU Parliament resolution. It has united and galvanized us. The days of colonial orders have finally been buried and are over as we match to Tanga”.
Ali Ssekatawa, a Tax and Oil and Gas legal expert also sang praises for the Deputy Speaker saying; “Thomas Tayebwa, you are a true patriot”
While Commander of Land Forces, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kaineruga has also hailed the efforts of Ugandans that have come up with an online petition challenging the EU Parliament’s decision. Responding to a tweet by Agriculture Minister Frank Tumwebaze saying that he had signed the petition, the First Son encouraged the whole of East Africa to support it.
“I agree with comrade Frank Tumwebaze. All East Africans should sign this important protest note/petition. Defend our sovereignty. Africa will win” he tweeted.
Tumwebaze has also hit at Malte Gallee, an EU Parliamentarian, one of the proponents of the motion who on Thursday condemned the Deputy Speaker’s lambasting of their decision.
Gallee in a tweet said he was condemning the Deputy Speaker’s reference to the resolution as being a result of “imperialism and neo-colonialism” but Tumwebaze reacted saying they should have gone through the EU delegations in Uganda and Tanzania to know the truth about environmental compliance in the EACOP project.