A section of MPs from West Nile and Western Uganda want the operations of Continental Tobacco stopped and its management arrested for failure to pay farmers whose livelihood depends on the cash crop.
For at least 12 months now, Continental Tobacco has subjected its suppliers to a cat and mouse game, forcing the lawmakers from the tobacco growing areas to lobby for the company’s closure.
“Matters regarding Continental Tobacco are already in Parliament. And our position is to have it closed because it has caused untold suffering to our people,” Buhaguzi County MP, Bigirwa Julius Junjura said in a stakeholders meeting on tobacco last week.
Although the meeting was attended by several cigarettes makers/tobacco dealers, including BAT, MPs drew their guns at Continental Tobacco, saying it is the frog that spoils the pond.
It also emerged that the MPs are considering legal action against the tobacco company whose owners are believed to be Kenyan.
Tobacco farmers Daily Monitor spoke to said Continental Tobacco had lured farmers through offering above market prices compared to competitors’ offer.
In a pre-budget meeting recently, Mr David Wakikona, the state minister for Trade, said Continental Tobacco had failed to keep its part of the bargain, however, discussions were under way to see that the farmers are paid monies in claims worth Shs6.5billion.
He said: “We have entered a MoU with the Continental Tobacco. So far farmers in Kibaale have been paid. And the remaining four or five district will also be paid.”
Meanwhile, efforts to reach the management of Continental Tobacco were futile as known phone contacts could not be reached by press time.
By Ismail Musa Ladu, Daily Monitor