Thursday, May 13, 2010
Naduli is opposed to Ugandans joining the IPC, forgetting that there is need tp get a way to the Promised Land
On the left is Hajji Abdul Naduli
Kabaka Mutebi King of Buganda
It is unfortunate for the likes of Hajji Naduli for they seem not to know what they like; in other words simply opportunists. Naduli is one of the ‘bush men,’ those who joined hands with President Museveni to fight the 5 year Bush war (1981 – ’86), which development in Uganda history has a number of issues to note; though much of what had been anticipated turned into hot air! They fought to restore the rule of law, however, under the much cherished administration by the likes of Naduli, their Government is at liberty to change the Constitution to suit the needs and aspirations of the leaders call it selfish interests which could easily yield to a vicious circle of instability hence more suffering by the Ugandans. His cherished Government has denied Ugandans the right to have federo type of Local Government which is cherished many. Those who went to the bush used the stolen DP victory to convince the public that the 5 year Bush war was worth supporting, and never in Uganda’s history have we witnessed electoral malpractices as have been experienced during NRM’s time. So, Naduli has a problem, may be his debts which have seen him go to Luzira are the problem which makes him talk as if he is satisfied with the status quo; yet when he is the same man who told Ugandans that he knew about the deal President Museveni made with Kabaka Mutebi when the war was still on. Hajji Naduli, many of us are simply fed up with the rot in NRM which development is likely to have long term effects for the future of the country; and it is for that reason that we look to change be it a cooperation of parties as long as it is a viable vehicle to help the country get back on the viable road to development
Museveni-Buganda bush war deal: Who is telling the truth?
Tuesday, 29 September 2009 19:08 By P. Matsiko wa Mucoori & Odoobo C. Bichachi
Was there an agreement between rebel leader Yoweri Museveni and Buganda monarchists in the bushes of Luwero as the two fought Milton Obote’s UPC regime in 1981-85?
[Rebel Leader Museveni tours some of the liberated areas.] President Museveni rejects the existence of any such agreement.
“When we triumphed in 1986, the subject of restoring the traditional leaders started coming up. Even in the bush, opportunists like the late Kayiira started bringing it up. In the bush, however, especially during the Kikunyu conference of 1982, the NRM openly rejected Kayiira’s position of talking about monarchies. We said that we were fighting for the freedom of Ugandans; once the Ugandans had got their freedom they would decide on what to do. That was our position. Our major points were captured in the 10-Points Programme.
Therefore, those liars who say that we committed ourselves to monarchism in the bush should be disregarded,” Museveni told the country in his national address after the recent riots across Buganda protesting the blocking of the Kabaka from visiting Kayunga.
Yet many Baganda, especially elders who were part of Yusuf Lule’s Uganda Freedom Fighters (UFF) that merged with Yoweri Museveni’s Popular Resistance Army (PRA) to form National Resistance Army/Movement (NRA/M) insist there were agreements. And that there was not just one meeting at Kikunyu; there was a meeting in Matugga, one in Nairobi, one in London and another in Tripoli, Libya.
“By just talking about the Kikunyu meeting, Museveni is being diversionary because that meeting was with Uganda Freedom Movement (UFM) of Kayiira not UFF. Let him tell the country about what he agreed with UFF,” one of those familiar with the agreements said, adding that the 10-Point programme was actually a 12-Point programme and that some things were left out of the public document because of sensitivity on how the rest of the country would take it.
Be that as it may, nearly everyone who was either party to the UFF-PRA agreements or is privy to the contents of the agreements is so scared and cautious that they only reveal minimum information.
One of them, a senior NRM leader was so terrified and broke down in tears when we asked him about the agreements and what exactly transpired in those early years of the war.
“My colleagues are dead. Do you want me dead too? Please let’s not talk about those agreements now. I have written down everything; my children will publish it when I die,” he told The Independent with tears streaming on his cheeks.
[Kabaka Mutebi ] Even one of Yusuf Lule’s sons, Wasswa Lule, is also guarded about the agreements. Wasswa often travelled with his father and was also privy to what transpired in the London meeting between then Prince Ronald Mutebi (now the Kabaka of Buganda) and Museveni at Yusuf Lule’s residence in London. This is the meeting President Museveni referred to in his speech after the recent riots. But when Wasswa was asked about details of the agreement between NRM and the Buganda fighting groups in Luwero, he remained guarded with his words.
The Buganda-Museveni bush war agreements seem to be at the centre of the current bad blood between the two former allies. President Museveni, according to Buganda, broke the agreements – having only gone half-way – and this is possibly the reason they are unwilling to seriously engage him in talks to reach any further agreements. On the other hand, for two years Museveni has frantically worked the phone to get the Kabaka’s ear. He knows that without Buganda, his grip on power is tenuous. Buganda, arguably, helped him ascend and remain in power for 23 years. He needs it to stay in power and “win” the 2011 elections.
The Independent has not yet managed to get a copy of the UFF/PRA/UFM agreements but has established that copies exist and some of the former UFF operatives and fighters are still alive, including some members of the UFF High Command but all are too scared to reveal anything, let alone talking about the bush war. The late Ahmed Seguya, the first NRA commader was from UFF.
Wasswa Lule came close to revealing anything. He said Museveni and the late Lule agreed on restoring Kabaka and a kingdom with administrative powers. This would imply that Museveni and Lule agreed on restoration of Buganda Kingdom to its federal status of 1966 before Obote abolished the kingdoms.
He however refused to say whether the agreement was verbal or written.
“The people of Buganda did not contract with NRM in the bush for the restoration of a traditional leader as restored, a cultural leader, an Aga Khan, a paramount chief, a traditional chief or village chief. And the 1993 Constitutional Amendment Statute is considered to have been merely a dress rehearsal for greater things to come…. We have never sought for a constitutional cultural head whose existence does not require constitutional recognition. That’s all I can say for now,” Wasswa said.
[Museveni's NRC members in Mubende in 1984. Seated front row: L-RD.Kibirango Apuuli, Moses Kigongo, Kahinda Otafiire. Standing: Prince Jjuko, Abbey Mukwaya and Fr Seguya.] When reminded that the Kabaka has been restored and is recognised under the constitution, he retorted. “Do you think Lule would sit to discuss obwa Kabaka bwomulujja (a household monarch)? Nobody in their own senses would do that. Kayunga is in Buganda but the Kabaka cannot go there. He can’t go here or there. What type of Kabaka is that? Lule would not discuss restoration of such a Kabaka.”
When pressed harder, Wasswa said he would say more at an appropriate time because “the struggle is gradual.”
The existence of the controversial agreement is also alluded to by a bush war historical Sam Njuba, now MP for Kyaddondo North. He talked of a meeting in Libya during the bush war time. He says this meeting involved various people such as Godfrey Binaisa, Balaki Kirya, the late Andrew Kayiira, Lt. Gen. Moses Ali and others but there was no specific delegation for Buganda nor did they discuss anything particular for Buganda. He says the meeting discussed general issues of a united national front which was to be launched in London. However he added that although there was no specific discussion on Buganda issues, it was generally agreed that the struggle was for correcting mistakes of the past regimes and restoring the constitutional order of 1966.
By 1966 Buganda kingdom was a federal state with the Kabaka as the head.
[Museveni Poses for a group photograph with Buganda Clan leaders at state House Entebbe in 1986.] Njuba could not comment authoritatively on whether in the subsequent meetings in Luwero, Museveni and Lule made an agreement on restoration of the Buganda monarchy. He said he was not part of those meetings but contended that the Baganda groups in Luwero were strong monarchists and they couldn’t have entered an agreement with Museveni that did not involve restoration of federo and the monarchy.
Njuba’s hypothesis was confirmed by an NRA/M bush war historical Hajji Abdul Nadduli, the former Luwero LC-V chairman. Nadduli told The Independent that there was a meeting and an agreement between NRM and Buganda fighting groups in regard to the restoration of the monarchy and federo.
He said all the Buganda fighting groups, be that of Lule or Kayiira wanted restoration of Buganda kingdom and federo. It did not matter which group. Nadduli said that in September 1982, NRA/M and the Uganda Freedom Movement met for a whole week at Kikunyu in Makulubita sub-county, Luwero, and agreed on the restoration of the monarchy. He said they also agreed that after the war they would sit and discuss “federo, the kingship and the like.” He said it was even incorporated into the 10-Point Programme (the NRM’s bush war working document).
He said that there was general agreement that upon capturing power, they would redress errors of the past regimes. He said that under this principle, they agreed on the restoration of the abolished kingdoms, return of their properties and the entity [monarch]. He said this was not only for Buganda but all the affected regions of Uganda which had kingdoms as of 1966.
What does Nadduli say about President Museveni’s statement that NRM never agreed with Buganda to restore the monarchy?
[President Okello Lutwa and Museveni exchange agreement documents at the conclusion of the Nairobi peace talks in 1985. Looking on right is Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi.] “Then how did the Kabaka come to the bush during the ceasefire between NRA/M and Okello Lutwa group?” he asks, adding “the Kabaka toured Luwero, Mubende, Mpigi, Masaka up to Katonga.”
Nadduli is the only person who was involved in the Kikunyu meeting who said there is a written agreement between the NRM and UFM. President Museveni has maintained that issues of the monarchy and federo came up in several meetings in the bush but there was no written agreement on the subjects. He said he never committed himself on restoring federo nor the kingship. But Nadduli equates Museveni’s statements to Apostle Simon Peter’s denial of Jesus in the Bible on the day he was crucified.
“That’s a Peter’s denial. Do you think when Peter denied that he had ever known Jesus, he was telling the truth? We wrote something on the things we agreed on at Kikunyu. It’s there. Ask the people who were there like [Moses] Kigongo. They have a copy,” Nadduli said.
Hajji Moses Kigongo declined to discuss anything about the agreements with The Independent.
Another UFF veteran who spoke on condition of anonymity said that in the bush, the catchword was “Kabaka ya’tutumye” (we are the king’s agents) and Col. Kasirye-Ggwanga and other Baganda rebel officers went on every peasant’s door telling them this and asking for their support; food or concealment from government troops.
Why Museveni allied with Buganda
[Olara Otunnu] The story of Museveni’s war against Obote II seems to be littered with broken promises, suspicion and betrayal. According to information available to The Independent, Museveni was forced to make alliance with Buganda fighting groups after he found the ground hostile to him, and after he had inexplicably broken an alliance with Uganda National Liberation Front – Anti-Dictatorship (UNLF-AD) forces.
According to our source, before the launch of the bush war on February 6, 1981 Museveni’s PRA was suspposed to attack Kabamba barracks in Mubende with forces of UNLF-AD led by Augustine Kayonga and Chefe Ali which had set up bases in the Rwenzori Mountains. The UNLF-AD Kayonga’s group had been tasked with making all the reconnaissance and attack plans which they shared with Museveni’s PRA, through its commander Sam Magara. Magara and Kayonga had been classmates at Dar es Salaam University and enjoyed good rapport.
On the agreed date, Kayonga brought his forces from the mountains 24 hours before striking time to the rendezvous (tactical base). They were 55 men armed with 15 guns and an RPG which had been given to them by Magara. Hungry and tired, Kayonga’s force waited for Museveni’s group to make contact but they never did. They waited another two days. They lost hope and decided to withdraw to their mountain bases feeling demoralised and betrayed.
[Paul Ssemogerere] Two days after their withdrawal on February 6, Museveni attacked Kabamba, which was a training school, with 40 men armed with 27 guns. The attack was however messed up because Elly Tumwine, who was then a Lieutenant in the national army UNLA, panicked and shot a UNLA sentry who was manning the Quarter Guard, alerting the entire barracks. In the result, a Tanzania instructor who was polishing his shoes in front of his house jumped into the armoury. He started firing from inside and made it impossible for the advancing rebels to break into the armoury. The Tanzanian instructor threw a grenade at the advancing rebels and wounded their commander. The Museveni rebels gave up on the armoury but managed to grab a few guns and supplies in the barracks using their inside collaborators.
Both Augustine Kayonga, who is now a lawyer based in Fort Portal, and Prof. Edward Rugumayo – who together with Prof. Dan Nabudere were the political leaders of UNLF-AD – confirmed the aborted joint attack on Kabamba.
“We were surprised when PRA did not turn up. We thought their commander Sam Magara had got green light from Museveni but it seems there was something we did not know,” Kayonga told The Independent, adding that his group felt betrayed
“They thought that we should not get a boost and that our presence in the Rwenzori or that of any other fighting group was a threat to their quest to get power. He [Museveni] never forgave Magara for giving us an RPG,” he concluded.
Interestingly, this incident has never been acknowledged in NRM’s version of history of the war against Obote II; not even in President Museveni’s book, Sowing the Mustard Seed.
Other mysterious/broken deals?
[Lt. Gen. Moses Ali ] The Independent received that Museveni may have entered into agreements with several other fighting groups opposed to the Obote II regime but interestingly, all the players remain cagey – and some even fearful, suggesting that the agreements were betrayed, the price for pursuing them could be high, or they are not based on solid ground.
For example in a side agreement with then Brig. Moses Ali’s Uganda National Rescue Front (UNRF), Museveni reportedly agreed that Ali would be vice president of Uganda at the rank of General upon capturing power. But this was kept a secret between the two because they did not know how the other fighting groups would receive it given that Ali had served in the much hated Idi Amin regime.
Well, Ali was never appointed vice president and was in the early years of NRM/A arrested for treason. Analysts say this was because he tried to follow up this agreement. Ali, who was recently promoted to the rank of Lt. General and retired, declined to discuss the matter when approached by The Independent.
President Museveni also is said to have made an agreement with the Democractic Party while fighting in the bush and after taking over Kampala. Former DP president-general Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere and its former secretary general Robert Kitariko in the past referred to a “gentleman’s agreement” with Museveni in 1986 which he failed to honour.
When The Independent contacted Ssemogerere about the issue last week, he said it was “a long story and this may not be the right time to discuss the matter,” promising that when he thinks all is fine, he will contact us and tell DP’s story with Museveni.
Museveni also reportedly betrayed a gentleman’s agreement with Olara Otunnu, then Uganda’s ambassador to the UN in 1985. According to Otunnu, Museveni was the second person to call him immediately after Maj. Gen. Bazilio Olara Okello staged a coup against Obote’s second government. Museveni who was then in Sweden informed him that the army had overthrown Obote and that from the information he had, they were planning to call Otunnu and give him the job of foreign minister. Museveni reportedly requested Otunnu to accept the job because he wanted someone serious on the other side with whom to talk peace and fix the country. Otunnu became foreign minister and led the peace talks in Nairobi on the Lutwa junta side. Unknown to him, Museveni was not interested in peace talks and continued organising his forces. It is during this time that Prince Mutebi toured various parts of Buganda and western Uganda which were under NRA control. Eventually, Museveni launched a putsch against the Okello government, overrunning the regime on January 25, 1986 although he declared victory on the following day to avoid a coincidence of the January 25, 1971 when Idi Amin overthrew the Obote I government in a coup.
Can Buganda trust Museveni?
With this background of alleged broken promises, betrayed trust and unacknowledged roles, analysts think it will be difficult for President Museveni to weave another credible and sustainable political alliance with any group especially Buganda. This, they say, explains Buganda’s reluctance to enter any further agreement with Museveni.
Federo: Museveni walks in Obote ’s 1966 footsteps
Tuesday, 11 August 2009 19:12 By Patrick Matsiko wa Mucoori
The 1962 Independence Constitution granted Buganda a full federal status. Three other kingdoms (Ankole, Toro, Bunyoro - and the Territory of Busoga) were granted a semi-federal status. The rest of Uganda was governed by the central government under a unitary arrangement.
Phares Mutibwa, a Muganda historian, says in his book Uganda Since Independence: “The provisions of the constitution were such that it could not easily be amended, thus entrenching and enhancing further the interests of the federal states – especially Buganda, home of Uganda’s largest, best educated and wealthiest ethnic group.”
This was a sort of compromise between Buganda and UPC led by Milton Obote arrived at on the sidelines of the Lancaster Conference.
Although Buganda was among the national agitators for independence by 1962, ultimately it wanted federal status over and above the independence thus according it a special status from the rest of the country.
The principal architect and beneficiary of the federo demand was Buganda, but the other kingdoms were brought on board to give it a wider and national outlook. This arrangement to give Buganda a special status above the rest of the country was the genesis of today’s simmering friction between Mengo (the seat of the kingdom administration) and President Museveni’s central government. This arrangement led to the emergency of Buganda nationalism vis-a-vis Uganda nationalism. To date Buganda sees herself as a state and the rest of Uganda as a “neighbouring state” from which it expects bilateral respect. It is apparent Buganda has not accepted it is under the Ugandan state. For that reason it has failed or rather refused to submit its ethnic ‘nationalism’ to the Uganda nationalism. It’s the driving force behind her demand for administrative and political autonomy from the central government.
This system of a Buganda state within the Uganda state led to the confrontation between President Edward Mutesa and Prime Minister Milton Obote in 1966. Kabaka Mutesa who was a titular president had exaggerated his powers as head of the Buganda federal state and attempted to encroach on Obote’s powers who was the executive Prime Minister. The power conflict between the two culminated in the 1966 Kabaka crisis when Mutesa fled to exile after Obote ordered the army to attack Lubiri, the king’s palace.
To stop the power fusion between the federal state and the unitary state, Obote abolished the Independence constitution which had granted Buganda a special status. He replaced it with the 1967 constitution which abolished all kingdoms and turned Uganda into a republic.
In one of his most memorable statements against kingdoms, Obote said: “No dead man has a right to rule over the living, either directly through his heirs, or indirectly through his ghost?” (The 1966 Crisis by Dr Akena Adoko)
[President Yoweri Museveni] Even President Museveni, a traditional critique of Obote over the 1966 Kabaka crisis, acknowledged the dangers and futility of creating two power centres within one state when he appeared on WBS television show on July 12.
“The 1962 constitution failed and failed disastrously because it tried to create two countries in one…federo is a recipe for disaster and we told them in 1962,” Museveni is quoted to have said.
He also referred to the 1962 Buganda federal arrangement as creating “two countries in one” or a state within a state. The 1966 crisis is the futility and folly of this arrangement Museveni refers to, which saw Obote suspend the 1962 Independence constitution, the Lukiiko subsequently call for the central government to be removed from Buganda territory (widely interpreted as an attempt to secede), and finally the “battle of Mengo” in May 1966, during which Army Commander Idi Amin led government troops to storm the Kabaka’s palace, forcing him into exile for the second time in two decades. The 1967 Constitution concentrated power in the central government, transforming Uganda into a republic rather than a combination of federal and unitary regions.
Surprisingly even after knowing that the creation of a federal status for Buganda in the 1962 constitution he still demonised and condemned Obote for his behaviour in 1966
If it were Museveni that time, what would he have done? My intuition tells me that if the same situation that prevailed in 1966 before Obote ordered the attack on the Lubiri confronted Museveni today, he would act more ruthlessly than Obote did. Why? If a mere negative campaign against the Land Bill last year provoked him into ordering the arrest of three Buganda officials and their detention in unknown places for days, how would he have reacted if; one, the Lukiiko had ordered him to take his government out of Buganda; two, the Kabaka was stocking guns in the Lubiri and had called all able-bodied Baganda to undergo military training, as was the case in 1966?
During his appearance on WBS television show, Museveni made it clear that he would not grant Buganda a federal status.
“We made an amendment in Article 178 of the Constitution, which provides for regional governments under the regional tier arrangement. We shall not grant anything beyond that,” he said.
But why are we again in this power race between the central government and the Buganda establishment, which had been solved 42 years ago in 1967? Who is responsible for this?
President Museveni is squarely responsible and should accept to bear the consequences of his intransigency. Why did Museveni bring back the kingdoms well knowing the mistake of the 1962 constitution and the consequent 1966 crisis? It is not wise to hurry into marriage with a divorced woman. The reasons she divorced her former husband may be the same reasons she will divorce you tomorrow.
In 1961 Kabaka Yekka party entered a political marriage with Obote’s Uganda People’s Congress to defeat the Democratic Party. But soon after the two fell out with each other and finally divorced in 1966 leading to the abolition of kingdoms in 1967.
Twenty six years later (1993), President Museveni decides to bring back the Buganda-central government marriage through the restoration of kingdoms. The Banyankore say that when you see a stick that has been used against your co-wife, you better throw it over the fence because tomorrow it will also be used to beat you. The stick (monarchs) had been used against Obote and he threw it over the fence. But Museveni picked the stick from over the fence and brought it back into the homestead. Now it’s being applied against him.
Museveni failed to draw wisdom from this old Runyankore proverb in February 1993 in Gulu when he held an Army Council meeting whose top agenda was the proposal to restore kingdoms, which had been abolished by president Obote in 1967. Among the members at the Gulu meeting was a prominent Muganda bush-war hero and Museveni’s trusted cadre, the late Lt .Col. Sserwanga Lwanga. Museveni had invited the army generals to seek their views on the restoration of kingdoms. The then legislature, the National Resistance Council (NRC), had rejected the proposal.
Sserwanga told President Museveni straight in the face that he would be making a blunder if he dared restore the abolished kingdoms. Serwanga argued that it was impossible to return kingdoms without ceding political power to them. In the heated debate that ensued Sserwanga argued so passionately that restoring monarchs in Uganda would be inviting demands that President Museveni would not be able to fulfill.
But ultimately, Museveni prevailed over Sserwanga and it was resolved to restore the kingdoms. Today Museveni is facing exactly what Sserwanga told him 16 years ago. Buganda’s demand for a federal status has put the Mengo administration and Museveni on a collision course with each party vowing never to compromise on their stand. Mengo says there will never be more talks with the central government if federo is not on the agenda. Museveni counter-vows that he will never engage in talks with Buganda where the subject is federo.
In the 1962 constitution, it was only Buganda which wanted a federal system but it dragged in other kingdoms to create an impression that federo was a popular demand. In 1993, the restoration of kingdoms too was pushed by Buganda. But other areas like Toro, Bunyoro, Busoga and others were just brought on board to suggest that the idea was popular countrywide. Even today Buganda is claiming other regions also want federo. But how come it’s only Buganda making loud noise about federo while the rest are quiet? Buganda is again trying to draft other kingdoms into the federo race to appear as if it’s a national matter.
There are a few lessons we must learn. It is high time Buganda realised its nationalism must be integrated into the Uganda nationalism and it must accept that it’s part of Uganda. It should stop seeing itself as a neighbouring state. Two, Buganda should refrain from stampeding other parts of the country to legitimise her unilateral agendas.
Why did Museveni push for restoration of kingdoms well knowing it would open up space for Buganda to demand her former federal status as of 1962?
President Museveni entered this unprincipled marriage in restoring abolished kingdoms for purely populist reasons. He will pay the price. When you invite the butchers you must give them the animal to slaughter. Looking at what is now happening between his government and Mengo, I believe Museveni must be ruing over why he never took Lt. Col. Serwanga’s advice.
NRM Buganda plan revealed
Written by EDRIS KIGGUNDU & HUSSEIN BOGERE
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 23:18
The ruling party is mulling over winning back the hearts, minds and possibly votes of Baganda ahead of the 2011 elections, following a fallout that threatens a hitherto major vote base.
Ofwono Opondo, the NRM deputy spokesperson, told The Observer that NRM plans to take the battle to Mengo by ignoring the “unprincipled leaders” there and concentrating on the people that matter; the elected leaders and the peasants who vote.
Ofwono’s reference to unprincipled leaders is understood to mean the Mengo leadership led by the Katikkiro, Eng. J.B. Walusimbi, and his ministers.
“Museveni said he was tired of talking to unprincipled people; so, he opted for the elected people of Buganda like MPs, Local Council chairpersons. By touring Buganda, he is [telling] the voters that the misinformation is between NRM and some unprincipled leaders in Mengo,” Ofwono said.
Indeed Museveni has been touring the Buganda countryside in recent weeks, to draw attention to government programmes and how they can help fight household poverty. During his tours, the President has taken off time to explain why he closed CBS radio and the conditions under which it can be reopened.
Ofwono said that Mengo’s demands are isolating it from the rest of the country and NRM plans to exploit that to the fullest as well.
“Its [Mengo’s] actions since September  show how extremist Mengo can be. It gives us our second strategy; to show people that this has been the character of Mengo. They think they [Mengo] are smarter; but, they are always outsmarted. Unless their character changes, we shall see politics of conflict,” he cautioned.
Ofwono added that some of Buganda’s demands are “excessive, untenable and unsustainable.”
Buganda has over the years demanded a federal system of government and a return of all its ancestral properties. Mengo and the Central Government have recently clashed over the Land Amendment Act, the Regional Tier Bill and the closure of CBS, among others.
Agreeing with Ofwono on going directly to the people of Buganda, David Mafabi, a presidential assistant and an NRM strategist, told The Observer that the ruling party will stick to the tested methods.
“We are going to engage the ordinary people like we have been doing, we are going to rely on our good track record of delivering services, and I can tell you that we shall win decisively in Buganda,” Mafabi said.
Mafabi further said that Buganda is not going to hold the NRM at ransom with its demands and that government is not going to yield simply because of votes. If CBS is to be reopened, he said, it will not be because of a looming election.
Yet other NRM members and officials from Buganda remain concerned that the party could lose heavily in the sub-region in 2011, unless something is done to improve the relations. Hajj Abdul Nadduli, a bush war veteran and former LC-V chairman of Luwero, told The Observer this week that the opposition had exploited the poor relations between the government and Mengo to make headway in Buganda.
“Today, you hear even someone like [Olara] Otunnu (UPC President) saying he loves Buganda. Tomorrow it is [Norbert] Mao (DP President General),” Nadduli said. Peter Mutuluza, an NRM MP who represents Mawokota South in Mpigi District, said government needs to move quickly to save its political image in Buganda
“The way things are moving, NRM will lose votes in Buganda. It must sit down with Buganda and listen to their demands,” said Mutuluza, who last year voted against the government-backed Land Amendment Bill, a law opposed by Mengo.
These passionate pleas from some NRM members come in the aftermath of the Kasubi Tombs fire, which further damaged an already precarious relationship. President Museveni was heckled and some people tried to block him when he went to tour the gutted tombs. His presidential guard had earlier shot at the protesters before his arrival, killing three people.
While the party is fumbling over a strategy on how to bring Buganda on board ahead of the 2011 elections, some members told us that recent incidents seem to illustrate that government has softened its stance towards Mengo.
Just last week, the Cabinet decided that it would pay Buganda its outstanding property rent arrears, an estimated Shs 20 billion, if Mengo can put its request in writing and both parties verify the figures.
It is also telling that government yielded to Mengo’s protest against state security by not deploying Police or the military during special prayers to mark the end of the five-day mourning period at Kasubi last week.
The security was provided by Kabaka’s royal guards and Nkoba Zambogo, an organisation that unites Buganda youth in education institutions. These gestures, however small, appear to portray a government in an awkward position; trying hard to gain lost ground in the sub-region.
Hajj Nadduli, who once claimed that Museveni and Buganda agreed on federo in the bush, says part of the reason why the NRM has no clear strategy on Buganda is because Museveni is getting conflicting messages from NRM politicians in the sub-region.
“Some tell him not to give Buganda audience. Others tell him things that he wants to hear,” Nadduli says. This was hinted on by the President’s Press Secretary, Tamale Mirundi, who told the press recently that ministers are leaving the President to be bashed instead of coming to his rescue on issues such as CBS.
The NRM is certainly aware of the political implications of losing a significant chunk of the Buganda vote to the opposition.
Already, Museveni’s vote margin in the sub-region has been reducing steadily over the last two presidential elections. Between 2001 and 2006, Museveni’s margin dropped by 355,124 votes.
Having lost heavily in Acholi, Teso and Lango sub-regions, and with the opposition gnawing away at Bugisu and Busoga, losing Buganda could spell disaster for the NRM.
The most obvious way the NRM can significantly mend its relationship with Buganda, in the short term, some party officials say, is by re-opening the Buganda establishment radio, CBS. The kingdom-owned radio was closed in September 2009 during riots in Buganda.
Wherever President Museveni has toured in Buganda, the rallying call from the masses has been for him to reopen the radio. Government accuses CBS of inciting Ugandans to riot and hate the NRM. Discussions between the government and CBS owners have stalled, with Buganda refusing to accept government conditions, including an apology.
Kaddunabbi Lubega, the MP for Butambala, says the critical thing at this moment is for the two sides to talk. “It is important that each party looks at the other’s demands and they find ways of working together in a sober way,” the legislator said.
According to the Katikkiro, J.B. Walusimbi, Buganda is also aggrieved at the creation of tiny kingdoms within Buganda, the blocking of the Kabaka from touring his kingdom as was the case with Buruuli and Bugerere, government’s failure to pay ground rent amounting to billions, government’s refusal to fulfill its promises, and government’s regard of Mengo as rivals every time Mengo openly expresses its opinion.
“All these make the Baganda believe that government is deliberately squeezing Buganda,” Walusimbi told us this week. The Katikkiro added that although Mengo has done all it can to resolve the sticking issues through dialogue, government, on the other hand, appears to be adamant.
He cited the meeting between the Kabaka and President Museveni in the aftermath of the September riots which to date has not borne any fruits. Nadduli says returning Buganda’s properties is a simple matter, which the NRM can do in the same way it returned the properties of the Asians in the 1980s.