House reconsiders Museums and Monument Bill

The Museums and Monument Bill, 2022 that was returned by the President in November 2022 has been reconsidered by the House.

The Bill was passed for the second time during the plenary sitting of Tuesday, 24 January  2023 chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, putting into consideration all the concerns raised by the President including amending the definition of a mineral and mineral right and description of a list of protected areas under schedule 2 to the Bill.

The Bill was first passed on 15 September 2022.

The House reconsidered clause 93(2) of the Bill to allow sustainable utilization of mineral resources as well as protection of natural heritage.
“The justification for this proposal is that the current draft is too broad, general, and prejudicial to mineral rights and would make mineral rights subject to anything done under the Museums and Monuments Act. The proposed draft protects natural heritage while still restricting mineral rights to a reasonable extent,” Hon Mwine Mpaka, the Chairperson of the Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry chairperson said.

During debate, House deleted the entire second schedule under clause 29(5) of the bill that provided for a list of protected museums, sites and monuments on ground that the schedule requires further scrutiny since some of the protected areas are being studied by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development for potential development of geothermal resources and should therefore, not be wholly or partially protected.

While justifying the deletion of the second schedule, Mpaka added that most of the old buildings or historical sites being declared under the schedule have no historical importance that would warrant their declaration as historical monuments and that even the monuments declared are not specific in nature.
“But also, there are still several sites that would constitute 'national heritage' that have not been declared under the schedule…the entire second schedule to the bill should be deleted and the same is presented before Parliament, by statutory instrument, for approval…,” he said.

Deputy Speaker Tayebwa allayed MPs’ fears of passing a bill without a schedule listing places that will be regarded as national heritage sites.
“We have a cure [to this] because even in the President’s letter, he says we need wide consultation on the matter. So instead of enacting a law which is explosive, we have given the minister a window of introducing a schedule and statutory instrument which we can demand that it is presented on the floor,” Tayebwa said.

In his letter, the President had listed Panyimur Fossil Site in Pakwach District, Acherer Gold Mines in Nakapiripirit and Kilembe Mines in Kasese as the three sites that should be removed from the list of protected areas under the schedule.

As passed, the Museums and Monument Bill seeks to protect cultural and natural heritage resources and the environment, strengthen and provide institutional structure for effective management of the museums and monuments, prohibit illicit trafficking of protected objects, and promote local content of cultural and natural heritage.