Chiefs Plot to Abandon Mengo

Three traditional chiefs have joined hands to broaden their rebellion against Buganda kingdom, and vowed to push for their assets as separate cultural institutions.

The Observer has learnt that in recent months, the rulers of Kooki, Bunyala and Buruuli have been meeting and plotting to speak with a unified voice. And in a move that could escalate tensions with Buganda kingdom, the chiefdoms say they no longer consider themselves part of Buganda.

Last week, President Museveni said that he would never have signed last year’s agreement with Kabaka Ronald Mutebi II if the Buganda leadership had not accepted the independence of people such as the Banyala, mostly found in Kayunga district, in the Buganda county of Bugerere. Emerging information now suggests that the chiefs want that ‘independence’ to mean that they are kings in their own right, which would reduce the area under the Kabaka’s jurisdiction.

On September 1, the hereditary chief of Kooki, Kamuswaga Apollo Ssansa Kabumbuli II, teamed up with the Ssabanyala Baker Kimeze and Ssabaruuli Constantine Butamanya Mwogeza and wrote a letter protesting government’s planned handover of 84 more properties to Mengo.

The letter, a copy of which The Observer has seen, is addressed to Attorney General Peter Nyombi and copied to Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi. Other copies went to the minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development, Mary Karooro Okurut the chairman of Uganda Land Commission, and the chairperson of the August 1, 2013 Buganda Agreement Implementation Committee (BAIC).

The letter was delivered on the same day at the attorney general’s chambers. State House, Office of the Prime Minister, ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development received their copies on September 2. The Kamuswaga has for some years leaned toward rebellion against Mengo.

He first threatened a revolt in May last year when the Kabaka travelled to Kooki to launch that year’s edition of the Buganda Masaza (Counties) football tournament. The Kamuswaga also skipped last month’s opening of the 22nd session of the Buganda Lukiiko (Parliament) by Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, which came a year since he withdrew his representative in the Lukiiko.

He, however, attended Kimeze’s sixth coronation anniversary last week at Kyerima, Kayunga. Kooki became part of Buganda kingdom in 1896 following an agreement between then Kabaka Mwanga and Kezekiah Ndahura, the then Kamuswaga.

Demands:

In the letter, the three chiefs accuse Mengo of failing to act within the ambit of the agreement that returns its ancestral properties. In more specific terms, they want government to stop the return of more properties to Mengo until their concerns are addressed.

“Pursuant to the [agreement] specifically item A(6), it mandates that the Kabaka enjoys his freedom of movement to any and all parts of Uganda provided that he respects other cultural institutionsleaders as enshrined in the Constitution and Institution of Traditional or Cultural Leaders Act 2011,” the letter partly reads.

In the letter, the chiefs claim to be representing the views of the people of Kooki, Buruuli and Bunyala.

“Our major focus is, therefore, on Item B (4) which is to the effect that the Kabaka shall leave to us land where we are currently situated,” they say.

Referring to a committee that Museveni instituted to work on the implementation of the agreement, the chiefs claim that their nominees to the BAIC have been sidelined. Each chief nominated one person to the BAIC at the request of Museveni, who wrote to them on August 31, 2013.

“We write with regret that, albeit the implementation committee having been set up by the president to implement the [agreement], to date item B (4) has remained unimplemented,” the chiefs claim.

BAIC is headed by Florence Kiconco, a legal officer attached to State House. Bunyala nominated its Prime Minister Martin Ssenkatuuka while Buruuli nominated Christopher Bagonza. Buganda’s team has Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Apollo Makubuya, Prince David Kintu Wasajja and Ambassador Bill Matovu.

“We request you to prevail over the implementation committee to ensure quick implementation of items A (6) and B (4), and specifically we request that all the land titles that belong to us that were wrongly handed to Mengo be given to us in the shortest possible time,” the letter says.

The plot:

The letter was a culmination of a series of meetings between the Kamuswaga, Kimeze and Butamanya. It is understood that the engagements began in April this year after Museveni publicly returned 213 land tittles to Buganda ancestral properties. When Nyombi announced last week that government was in aanced stages of handing back more 84 land titles, the chiefs decided to write a protest letter. The handover ceremony was later postponed.

According to the Kamuswaga’s spokesman, Stanley Ndawula, the Ssabanyala and Ssabaruuli have urged the Kooki leader to abandon the notion that he was “under the Kabaka”. This loyalty, they said, would leave Kooki frustrated, without getting its assets.

“They [Ssabanyala and Ssabaruuli] met us and succeeded in convincing us to work jointly to push Mengo to give us what belongs to us,” Ndawula said on Friday.

“The agreement has no addendum reversing what was agreed upon, they should, therefore, proceed and implement it fully instead of moving to hand over more titles,” Ndawula added.

Buganda kingdom spokesman Denis Ssengendo Walusimbi challenged the chiefs to prove their ownership of the properties.

“Before they [properties were handed back to us, they underwent a verification process and the president even announced so,” Walusimbi said on Friday.

“The onus is on them [the chiefs] to prove that they own some of the properties that were returned to us,” Walusimbi added.

This development comes at a time when some members of the Lukiiko have petitioned the Kabaka to prevail on Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga to allow them debate the agreement.

Constitution supreme:

Mengo has hinted at ignoring the agreement because “it is being used to abuse some provisions of the Constitution.”

Mengo has protested government’s recognition of the Kamuswaga and the Ssabaruuli as kings within Buganda kingdom. Walusimbi also expressed shock at Museveni’s attendance of Kimeze’s coronation anniversary on September 4. At the anniversary, Kimeze claimed to have friendlier relations with Mengo. He said he talks to Mayiga by telephone on a weekly basis.

Kimeze’s spokesman James Rwebikire said on Saturday that Mayiga and Kimeze talk frequently about administration-related matters. Walusimbi roundly dismissed the claims.

“Who is Ssabanyala? I don’t know of anyone by the title Ssabanyala,” Walusimbi said.

Rwebikire said according to the agreement which the Kabaka signed with Museveni, at least Bugerere (Kayunga) and Buruuli ceased being parts of Buganda.

“Buganda no longer has jurisdiction over these areas,” Rwebikire said. “When they signed that agreement, they gave up their authority we are no longer under the Kabaka.”

Source : The Observer

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