Monday, May 3, 2010

The Journey for Buganda has been long and is still on

Kabaka Mutebi on function
Parliament should incorporate the Buganda Government unpaid rent arrears; which according to the budget passed by Buganda Lukiiko is accumulative figure not less than shs 8 billion! The New vision of June 18, 2005, ‘The Government has paid sh450m to Buganda Kingdom as accumulated rent arrears for occupying Butikkiro, which is the former official residence for the Katikkiro.’ A source at Mengo June 17, 2005 said the cheque which was handed over to I. Kabanda, the then chairman of the Buganda Land Lease committee, covered the period from August 1, 1993! The former Butikkiro now houses the Uganda Joint Clinical Research Centre (UJCRC) that carries out research on HIV. A source said Mengo had demanded over sh2.4b for rent since 1993, including leasing out of the premises! Hon. Speaker; the above scenario is not justice. It is not justice to keep sitting on rent due for Buganda Government in other words directly crippling the operations of the region. Government has been behind the delay to grant federo status which many Ugandans cherish; it is not allowing regions to tax the people who live in them. Imagine! Is that the justice the NRM claims to make it different from past regimes? Mengo should in the mean time think of a proposal to Government of a swap; where those willing to pay dues to Mengo may be given leeway to pay money to Mengo and present General receipts to Government. We simply cannot look on as Government does the abnormal. The Katikiiro is supposed to reside where JCRC is housed; but trust the injustice of the Movement Government; it has failed to fulfill the pledge to construct an alternative accommodation for Katikiiro. As Kabaka says, we want JUSTICE.
William Kituuka

How Mutebi reclaimed his stolen kingdom
News Written by Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda Tuesday, 14 April 2009 06:10
In 1996, a Buganda minister commissioned SSEMUJJU IBRAHIM NGANDA, then a student of Mass Communication to carry out research about the road to Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II’s coronation as Kabaka of Buganda.
Prof. Apolo Robin Nsibambi, at that time Minister of Public Service was one of those interviewed. Nsibambi had been the head of Buagnda’s team that negotiated the return of kingdom’s property appropriated in 1966 by Milton Obote’s. The Observer brings the findings of this work on the occasion of the Kabaka’s 54th birthday.
The National Resistance Army (NRA) met on April 3, 1992 in Gulu town and agreed to return to the owners all properties that were confiscated by the government in 1966.
The Army however said that the return of these properties should not jeopardise the security of the country.
On April 30, 1993, the National Resistance Council sitting under the chairmanship of President Museveni resolved that certain assets and properties be returned to the traditional authorities of Buganda.
Earlier on November 21, 1992, Museveni had officially launched negotiations between the NRM/NRA government and the Buganda Kingdom to agree on what to return, when and how.
On Friday, December 4, 1992, Baganda marched through Kampala streets to thank the President for agreeing to return Baganda’s cultural sites and other property, commonly referred to as “ebyaffe”.
The procession of excited Baganda led by clan leaders marched to Parliament building where the crowd was addressed by several people, including Prof. Apolo Nsibambi who had been appointed by “Ssabataka” Ronald Muwenda Mutebi to head a Buganda team that would negotiate with the NRA.
To make the return legal, the NRC, Museveni’s post-war Parliament, passed the Traditional Rulers Restitution of Asserts and properties Statute on July 23, 1993.
It was after this law was in place that Ronald Mutebi named Nsibambi to lead Buganda’s negotiation team.
Nsibambi was approached by Prof. Senteza Kajubi on behalf of Ronald Mutebi. Other members included:
l Nadduli Kibale (deputy Chief Negotiator)
l Grace Semakula Musoke Ndugwa
l Haji Kateregga Namuguzi
l Yoasi Bulega
l E. Musoke Kayita
l J.S Mayanja Nkangi
l Godfrey S. Lule
l George Kabugo (Secretary)
l Joyce Mpanga
l John C. Ssempebwa
l Joyce Sebugwaawo
l J.B Walusimbi
l John W. Katende
l Damiano Lubega
l Prof. William Senteza Kajubi
l Bwogi Kanyerezi
l Joyce Kaddu.
Before negotiations began, the team made announcements in the press, requesting whoever had information about Buganda properties to submit it to the committee.
The Museveni team was headed by Maj. Gen. Elly Tumwine and its members included Lt. Col. Sserwanga Lwanga and Maj. Gen. Gregory Mugisha Muntu.
The Buganda team laid claim on the following properties:
l Bulange (seat of Buganda Lukiiko at Mengo)
l The Lubiri (palace at Mengo)
l The Bitikkiro (residence of Katikkiro)
l The Buganda Court Buildings.
l Kabaka’s official 350square miles of land.
l Namasole’s 10square miles of land.
l Banalinya’s land.
l Kabaka’s Lake.
l Former Omulamuzi and Omuwanika’s official residences.
l Bassekabaka’s tombs (where former Kabakas are buried)
l Land adjacent to Lubiri on which 3 Buganda ministries used to stand.
l Buganda works building at Kakeeka.
l Basiima House.
l Nalinya’s house at Lubaga.
l Muteesa house in London.
l Counties, sub-counties land and offices.
Negotiations begin
The first major setback came up when Sabataka’s team demanded that some of the properties be returned with immediate effect. Yet most of these were being occupied by the Army or other government institutions.
For example, Nsibambi’s team demanded that since Bulange was the administrative centre for Buganda, it should be returned forthwith.
This was unacceptable to the NRA team. Bulange, which Obote had renamed “Republic House”, was up to that time - 1993 - still occupied by the Army. It was actually the NRA’s main offices.

Prof. Nsibambi told this writer that since Bulange was the seat of the Buganda Parliament (Lukiiko) and housed Sabasajja’s offices, his team had to demand its immediate return.
Some of the Army officers on the government’s negotiating team; for example Mugisha Muntu, were Nsibambi’s former students. This helped the two committees to forge ahead. Nsibambi exploited this opportunity to interact with them freely and personally.
But still, certain issues remained too hard to resolve, prompting President Museveni and Kabaka Mutebi to intervene.
The two leaders held almost three meetings together, with some members of their negotiating teams. As a result of these meetings, Museveni agreed to hand over Bulange immediately.
Lubiri struggle
Then came the Lubiri (Mengo palace) question. Being the official home of the Kabaka, some Buganda officials had wanted it returned even ahead of Bulange. In fact, after the Ssabataka returned from exile in the United Kingdom, he spent some days at the late Express FC’s Chairman Patrick Kiwanuka’s residence in Komamboga. He later shifted to Kololo where he had been given a house, awaiting renovation of the Banda and Kireka palaces.

The lack of official residence for the Sabataka prompted the Abataka to demand the immediate return of the Lubiri, the Kabaka’s official residence. But the NRA was still using it as a barracks! The General Tumwine-led team also cited “security reasons” in holding onto it.
Later, the two teams agreed that the Lubiri would be returned after four years. Indeed the Lubiri was eventually returned on December 19, 1997.
Meanwhile as the talks progressed, Museveni appointed his Prime Minister, Kintu Musoke, to act as a bridge each time the two teams developed sharp disagreements.
Federo agitation
The year 1995 will be remembered as the defining moment of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi’s reign. It is the year when Buganda came very close and yet missed the opportunity to restore the pre-1966 federal status it enjoyed before Obote abolished kingdoms in 1966.
Obote had then overthrown Kabaka Mutesa who was then ceremonial president.
When Museveni launched a guerilla war in 1981, Buganda’s support was guaranteed. Among other things, Baganda thought that Museveni in power would restore Buganda’s pre-1966 status. That is why when Museveni captured power on January 26, 1986, many in Buganda saw this as their victory too.

However, in 1995, things took a different turn. Justice Benjamin Odoki, now Chief Justice, had been appointed Chairman of the Constitutional Commission in 1991. His assignment was to establish the views of Ugandans on many issues, including federalism. Odoki’s findings would be used as a guideline during the constitutional making process.
A Constituent Assembly to debate and pass a new constitution was elected on March 28, 1994. The Assembly comprised 284 delegates, including 74 from Buganda.
CA on federo
Federalism dominated debate in 1994 and early 1995. However, the first meeting between Buganda and the government on this matter had taken place in August 1986, seven months into Museveni’s presidency. It was between the President and Buganda clan leaders. Mutebi had just arrived by road via Kenya. That meeting failed to resolve the issue, but the demand for federalism didn’t die.
On May 3, 1994, the Lukiiko (Buganda’s Parliament) sat at Pope Paul Memorial Centre near Mengo and asked CA delegates from Buganda to demand for a federal type of government.
Former Vice President, the late Dr. Samson Kisekka, Apolo Nsibambi, Abu Mayanja and Jaberi Bidandi Ssali, among other government ministers attended.
However, some NRM historicals were uncomfortable with such positions. Captain Abbey Mukwaya, for instance, warned against such meetings. He said they could be construed as if Buganda CA delegates are getting instructions from Mengo.
Nevertheless there was another meeting at Masaka State Lodge between Buganda and the NRM government. The meeting took place on January 9, 1995. Here, the NRM was represented by:
l President Yoweri Museveni
l VP Dr. Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe
l PM Kintu Musoke
l First deputy PM Eriya Kategaya
l Local Government Minister Bidandi Ssali
l NRM Vice Chairman Moses Kigongo
l Minister of State for Constitutional Affairs Steven Kavuma
l Sam Kutesa
l Kezimbira Miyingo.
Buganda was represented by:
l Kabaka Ronald Mutebi II
l Katikkiro Joseph Mulwanyammuli Ssemwogerere
l Sheik Ali Kulumba
l John Katende
l Prof. Apolo Nsibambi
l Bbaale Mugera
l Wasswa Birigwa
l Kabaka’s Private Secretary Misusera
The Kabaka attended this meeting briefly, departing immediately after his speech. Though the meeting was not open to the press, records show that the two sides failed to resolve the federal issue. It continued the following day until members agreed to meet again in two weeks’ time.
Museveni’s stand
Meanwhile, a Buganda group calling itself “opinion leaders” wrote a strongly worded letter to President Museveni titled ‘A case for the restoration of Buganda as a single unit’ in which they demanded a federal status for Buganda.
The group argued that it was opposed to an imposed unitary system.
President Museveni personally wrote back. In a letter to the group titled ‘A case for the restoration of Buganda as a single unit,’ the President rejected federalism.
In what he described as devolution of power to the people, Museveni opposed the idea of a homogenous Buganda with settled boundaries. This, he said, was or is in conflict with reality. He noted, for instance, that in 1900 Buganda chiefs were awarded by the British, large non-Buganda swathes of land.
The President instead called for symbolic recognition of cultural leaders without allowing them to mingle in administration or politics. This, he argued, would make “Ssabataka” the cultural leader of the Baganda wherever they may be.
The President further noted that of the 4.8million people who lived in Buganda, only 3 million were Baganda. He added that there were 32,777 Baganda in Mbarara district of Ankole.
“It’s conceivable therefore, that in future we could have a Buganda province without Baganda and non-Buganda areas of Uganda with Baganda,” Museveni concluded.
Charles Peter Mayiga, a prominent lawyer and Member of the Lukiiko at the time (now Information Minister), wrote several articles in the press reacting to the President’s letter. He remained adamant that federalism was the most appropriate system of governance for Uganda.
Other regions
At the beginning, the quest for federo was interpreted as a Buganda affair. However, sooner other kingdoms joined the struggle. Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom’s Supreme Council issued a statement on January 17, 1995 supporting federalism.
The Chairman of the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom Council, Christopher B. Sabiiti, said in his January 17 press release that Bunyoro’s demand for federalism throughout Uganda remains unequivocal and resolute as expounded in the Council’s memorandum to the Constitutional Review Commission in 1991.
CA debates federo
Select Committee 4 was charged with discussing chapters on; the Republic, Citizenship, Local Government and General and miscellaneous provisions.
The committee had 45 members who included:
l Prof. Apolo Nsibambi (Presidential nominee)
l Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere (Igara West)
l Damiano Lubega (Rubaga South)
l Wasswa Lule (Rubaga North)
l Besweri Mulondo (Mityana South)
l Bwembale Walembwa (Bukonzo West)
l Darlington Sakwa (Bungokho South)
l Kahinda Otafiire (Ruhinda)
l Victoria Sekitoleko.
l Dr. Ekullo Epak (Oyam South)
l Higiro Samajege (Lwemiyaga)
l Israel Kayonde (Gomba)
l Noble Mayombo (Army)
l Robinson Katumba (Kiboga West)
l Abu Mayanja (Busunju)
l Mulindwa Birimumaaso (Bukoto West)
l Bwanika Bbaale (Katikamu North)
l Dick Bateganya (Bukholi Central)
l Janet Mukwaya (Mukono South)
l Victoria Sebagereka (Women, Mukono)
l Lt. Col. Serwanga Lwanga (Army)
l Eriya Kategaya (Rwampara)
l Elly Karuhanga (Nyabushozi)
l Anthony Kanyike (Buikwe West)
l Dr. Ponsiano Mugyenyi (Isingiro North)
l Ignatius Malinga (Usuk)
The committee started its business on October 10, 1994. Nsibambi started by moving for an amendment on article 4(1)
“Uganda is one sovereign unitary state and a republic”. He sought to change it to; “Uganda is one federal state”. Nsibambi spoke about the notion of “optional federalism” or “optional unitarisation”. On Tuesday, October 11, 1994 the debate continued.
Prof. Nsibambi, Besweri Mulondo, Wasswa Lule, Abu Mayanja and Damiano Lubega spoke in favour of federalism while Kahinda Otafiire,
Tarsis Kabwegyere and Serwanga Lwanga spoke against.
When the issue was put to vote, 32 members opposed federalism, 11 supported it, while two members abstained.
Prof. Nsibambi, who at one time stormed out of the CA in protest, told the press that he would go ahead to table the federal demand in the CA plenary. At the end of the debate, Select Committee 4 recommended decentralisation as an alternative to federalism.
The last nail in the federo coffin was inserted on Tuesday, March 28, 1995. The long running push for federalism was now to be decided by the plenary session chaired by of James Wapakhabulo [RIP].
John Eresu, a delegate from Kaberamaido, moved a lengthy amendment saying that “there shall be a federal system in Uganda based on regions…”
Eresu’s motion was debated for seven hours with 38 delegates contributing to it. One such delegate was Prof. Nsibambi who said that the issue of federo was not for Buganda alone, but rather a national and global issue as well.
Tiberio Okeny Atwoma, a delegate from Chua County said that federalism was actually in the blood of his Acholi people.
Steven Ssemaala from Kyamuswa County argued that the central government had failed to give the people services, such as schools, which had prompted his support for federalism.
Then came Patrick Mwondha’s thrilling contribution. After congratulating his fellow delegates upon their anniversary, he said:
“Let us resolve this issue here. Let us not wait for the Rwakituras of this world and Akokoros of this world (Museveni and Obote country homes respectively).”
On his part, Amanya Mushega (Igara East) opposed federalism. He said that it was a duty of those supporting it to articulate a programme that suits the whole country. He added that if they had failed to do this, they were just intellectually lazy.
Atamvako Zubairi (Arua Municipality), a firebrand UPC supporter, challenged Mushega amidst heckling. He charged that under NRM the state had become a den of looters who were busy mortgaging the country to international finance capitals.
He charged at Mushega who had called supporters of federalism “intellectually lazy”, describing him and other opponents of federalism as “intellectual cowards”.
Atamvako, believed to have died fighting the Museveni government with a West Nile rebel group later one, further argued that in federalism, power rotates from the grassroots to the centre, adding that in Uganda power flows from the barrel of the gun in Luwero and is now centred at Rwakitura.
Dream buried
With support for federalism coming from even unlikely quarters, for instance UPC leaders, the stage was set for a grand finale. This finale ended up being a final blow delivered by a celebrated federalist, Besweri Mulondo, who was then a Sabalangira in Buganda.
Apparently not happy that the amendment had been moved and supported by UPC leaders, whose party was responsible for the abolition of federalism in 1966 in the first place, Mulondo challenged the mover to withdraw his amendment.“Do we want federalism or power?” Mulondo began. “The issue of federalism should not derail us from what we want to achieve. Baganda have talked to everybody and anybody about federo and should be forgiven if they have been seen to have aligned with multi-partyists,” he said, exciting NRM delegates opposed to the motion.
Mulondo urged Baganda to accept a position which might not be as good as the federo they wanted since they hadn’t managed to get it in that form.After an unprecedented 38 contributions, the chairman put the issue to vote and the whole assembly reverberated with a resounding “No!” When the supporters of federalism stood up, they failed to meet the 51 delegates needed to force the issue into a division lobby. With the federo debate dead and buried, the CA adopted decentralisation.
Under pressure, two days later Mulondo resigned all his positions in the Mengo government.
The Katikkiro, Joseph Mulwanyamuli Ssemwogerere, told the Lukiiko that one day federo would be achieved.
Apolo Nsibambi described the defeat as a temporary setback. 14 years later, Baganda and other supporters of federalism continue hoping.

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