Parliament’s Committee on Natural Resources has summoned Gen Salim Saleh, the Chairman Operation Wealth Creation, over his alleged media remarks supporting lakeshore sand mining.
Sand mining has lately become controversial, following a crackdown on illegal miners by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).
High ranking individuals have had to suffer the wrath of NEMA, including prominent Pentecostal preacher Samuel Kakande and several Chinese owned companies.
Gen Saleh, in media remarks attributed to him, expressed discomfort with the crackdown, saying mining can still be done sustainably.
The Committee has now invited him to clarify his remarks.
“We want the General [Saleh] to share with us the views he expressed in the media. We invited him to tell us the science that he has discovered to the effect that sand mining has no problem with the environment,” said MP Alex Byarugaba (NRM, Isingiro South), the Committee Chairperson.
Saleh, who was to appear before the Committee today was, however, a no show.
Byarugaba later told journalists that Saleh is free to express his views on the matter, but put him on notice not to offend the law.
“If he interferes in the work of NEMA, this will be another issue. There is nobody above the law,” said Byarugaba.
Whereas sand mining well into oceans and seas pose no threat to the environment, NEMA has recommended a buffer of 200 meters from the lake to be devoid of any mining.
This has resulted into a clash of interests, with sand dealers preferring to extract the mineral from the lake or its shores, which they say is of better quality and fetches higher financial returns.
It is unclear when Saleh is set to return, but a section of the Committee’s membership didn’t rule out outright summons to him should the need arise.