In the aftermath of the popular protest against the Ugandan government’s sale of Mabira to the Mehta Group, it seems Mehtas are using the classic business blackmailing of a monopolist – if Ugandans don’t buy their sugar they will sell it to Congo and Sudan. Apparently, Uganda suffers a domestic sugar demand deficit of about 40000 tons annually”. Mehtas seems to have convinced the President Museveni “that if Scoul gets the 7100 hectares of Mabira it will immediately sort out the domestic demand deficit.” (The Monitor, March 28 2007)
Ugandan Indians’ position
It is interesting to see Uganda’s Indian Community coming out against Mehta:
“During a five-hour meeting on Friday at their association headquarters in Nakasero, Kampala, on Friday, the Indians were bitter that Mr J. S. Mehta’s demand for the forest and his subsequent statements had inflamed the locals against all Indians. “Our community is saying that if he wants to export the sugar, then what is he doing in Uganda? Why does he want the Ugandan forest?” said some Indians. The coordinator of the Indian Association, Singh Parminder, confirmed that most Indians were unhappy with Mr Mehta’s utterances. “As an association, we disassociated ourselves from individual comments. He (Mehta) cannot talk like that,” Mr Singh told Sunday Monitor yesterday.
…The Indians said that most of them were unaware of Mehta’s dealings and that the Indian community should therefore not be punished for his sins. “Why should Ugandans punish us because of Mehta? When he (Mehta) gets his money, he eats it alone,” one of the Indians at the meeting recounted to Sunday Monitor.
Tororo MP Sanjay Tanna said yesterday that: “all the Indian associations in Uganda disassociated themselves from Mehta.” At the closed meeting, several Indians agreed that cutting Mabira Forest to pave way for Mehta to grow sugarcane was an absurd idea.” (The Monitor, April 15, 2007)
Referendum on the Mabira issue
A demand to hold referendum on the Mabira sellout has been raised, by the Tororo unit of Uganda People’s Congress.