Regional Tier Will Destroy Buganda [opinion]

I have heard that the minister for Local Government, Adolf Mwesige, intends to introduce a draft law in Parliament to impose the regional tier system on the Buganda kingdom.

I am writing to aise the minister and the government that the Buganda Lukiiko and all the Baganda rejected the regional tier system because it would dismantle the kingdom. The government should understand it very clearly that we rejected it and we shall never accept it whatever the case may be. The regional tier has a clause stipulating that two or three districts in Buganda can decide to break away and to choose a new name and be independent.

The tier allows the president to take over the administration of the kingdom if heshe sees that it’s not being run the way heshe wants. I do not understand why President Museveni is now bringing the regional tier, nine years after Buganda rejected it. The other day he was at Mengo and returned Buganda properties. President Museveni should tell the Baganda what has gone wrong now.

In Buganda, we want economic empowerment of the ordinary people. We want the revival of the coffee industry as soon as possible, not legislation to dismantle the kingdom. The government should keep one thing in mind – “live and let live”.

Please leave Buganda, intact the way you found it. In Buganda we do not gain anything from the tier and we absolutely lose nothing by not having it. There is one important factor which people should not overlook. Buganda kingdom is the source and centre of political power in Uganda. Nobody can rule Uganda without the full support of the Baganda. All government institutions are based here in Buganda.

Even the power house at the Owen Falls dam is on Buganda soil. Looking at what happened some years back, I remember that the Justice Benjamin Odoki report said that 97 per cent of Baganda wanted a federal system of governance for Buganda and 67 percent of Ugandans wanted a federal system for Uganda.

President Museveni kept the report to himself for some time and by the time he sent it to the late Sam Njuba who was the Constitutional Affairs minister, the position had changed from federalism for Buganda to decentralisation. Why did President Museveni reject or fear federalism? I know the reasons but because we are building a good relationship with him, I will not repeat them here.

In 2003, the Constitutional Review Commission chaired by Prof Frederick Ssempebwa was appointed to review the 1995 Constitution. I presented a 20-page petition recommending a multi-party system before the 2006 general elections and the right for a citizen to stand as an independent to Parliament. My recommendations were accepted by the commission, followed by a referendum in 2005 where the people of Uganda overwhelmingly voted for the multi-party system.

The Ssempebwa commission recommended federalism for Buganda but President Museveni rejected it. He later said that a Muganda, Jaberi Bidandi Ssali, who was minister for Local Government, aised him that if Buganda got federal constitutionally, it would later secede from the rest of Uganda. That thinking was wrong because there is no way Buganda can secede from the rest of Uganda. Where do you start?

The regional tier was rejected straightaway by the Buganda Lukiiko, which passed a resolution to emphasize its stance. A team of Buganda elders (Abataka), who included the late Abubaker Kakyama Mayanja, aised the Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II that Sekabaka Mutesa II fought for Buganda in 1966 but it was only the gun which took it away from his hands. If he accepted the regional tier, he would lose the kingdom.

What the present leaders of the government should think of and seriously do is to develop the towns outside Buganda to the status of Kampala. These could include Mbarara, Kabale, Fort Portal, Hoima, Arua, Gulu, Lira, Moroto, Mbale, Soroti, Tororo, Iganga, Jinja and Kamuli. There is plenty of land in those areas to expand those towns.

Remember at one time Kampala was bush, forests and swamps inhabited by animals. It was later developed because of coffee and cotton which was being grown by Baganda. The way Kampala was developed is the same way the present government can develop those towns outside Buganda because the government has the money for that, plus the big amount of revenue we are about to receive from the oil.

We appeal to the katikkiro of Buganda, Charles Peter Mayiga, to summon the Buganda Lukiiko to debate the matter of the regional tier again, so that we know clearly the stand of Buganda. The central government will know clearly that we cannot accept a system of legislation which will dismantle Buganda kingdom.

The author is an elder from Kyaggwe, Mukono district, 0772-584423.

Source : The Observer

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