The Ugandan government has been sued over a contentious coffee deal it struck with Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd. (UVCC).
Two lawyers, Henry Byansi and Michael Aboneka, filed a petition at Kampala’s Civil Division on Monday, claiming that the arrangement between the government and UVCC is in bad taste and should be examined.
“As a coffee farmer, I understand that the industry is made up of small-scale traders and farmers, middlemen, small and large-scale exporters, development partners, farmer associations, and unions.” Before introducing a new policy, all of the above have a right to be consulted as stakeholders, but this was not done.”
Before signing the coffee transaction, he claims, the government should have consulted the Solicitor General, Ministry of Agriculture, Uganda Coffee Development Authority, and other relevant institutions.
“Failure to get the necessary approval and recommendation from URA and appropriate local authorities under the Local Governments Act 2008 before purporting to grant Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd tax breaks.”
According to the two lawyers, the government’s decision to exclude the coffee industry from all taxes is unconstitutional.
“It is unconstitutional to impose the obligation to carry the taxes borne by Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd on the government of the Republic of Uganda and its duties.”
The petitioners further claim that the government failed to follow the terms of the National Coffee Policy 2013 and the National Coffee Act 2021, which require the government to ensure that the coffee industry operates in a competitive and liberalized market environment through its agencies.
The two petitioners have asked the court to declare that the Ministry of Finance’s secret handpicking of Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd to manage production, export, selling, and setting prices of coffee beans and related products at the expense of other capable Ugandan firms is illegal.
“The petitioners seek a declaration that the Ministry of Finance’s decision to give Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd first priority in supplying coffee has far-reaching consequences.”
The two lawyers also want the court to rule that the Finance Ministry’s failure to follow all legal and administrative processes and communicate with relevant agencies and parties before executing the coffee agreement constituted an abuse of power and that it was illegal, null, and void.
According to them, the coffee contract was signed illegally and should be reviewed.
Respondents include the Attorney General and Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Ltd.