Mayiga’s Apolitical Approach Needs Support [opinion]

When Charles Peter Mayiga took office as katikkiro on May 13, 2013, it was an event of enormous significance, not just for the Buganda kingdom, but for the whole nation. Rarely has so much been expected of a katikkiro.

To put it into perspective, it was an open secret at the time that the relations between Buganda and the central government were somehow strained Kasubi tombs – the kingdom’s most significant tourist artifact – was a ruin, having been razed 14 months earlier.

Besides, there was a growing wave of discontent in some sections of the kingdom hierarchy, brought about by intrigue, despair and political anxiety. In many ways, Mayiga had a lot to do. However, a year and two months down the road, Mayiga has already performed with almost superhuman powers.

Back then, many people in Buganda perceived the appointment of Mayiga as the long-awaited change, needed to revive Buganda’s vibrancy and influence on the social and economic policies in the country. I must admit that I, too, was moved upon witnessing the historical handover of Ddamula – the official instruments of katikkiro’s power.

But I was careful not to become complacent and blinded by the fact Buganda detractors would abandon their greedy, exploitative and suppressive practices, merely because of Mayiga’s popularity alone.

Applying four key principles of honesty, hard work, transparency and egalitarianism, the katikkiro has succeeded in breaking all barriers before him. He has not only pushed through the kingdom’s plans, but also changed the mindset of Kabaka’s subjects.

For example, while the initial estimation of Shs 6bn for the restoration of the tombs was widely viewed as enormous, and out of reach for the kingdom, Mayiga has demonstrated money is just a number, when people have the will.

Having so far traversed 16 of Buganda’s 18 counties [masaza], Mayiga’s success in fundraising is incomparable to anything in recent memory. Even the harshest critics of the Ettoffaali drive -katikkiro’s fundraising campaign – went silent and gradually joined the bandwagon.

As we speak now, focus has already shifted to Masengere. As a member of the katikkiro’s taskforce, I am privy to his noble strategies to uplift the kingdom and I have to admit, it’s hard to talk about Mayiga without seeming to glorify him.

Yet, while most of the attention has been centred around the hugely-successful ‘ettoffaali’ project, the katikkiro’s fundamental fruits have been yielded through changing people’s mindsets towards unity, work and hope. There was a time where people in Buganda were stereotyped as lazy, envious and chauvinists.

Such statements could have had a demoralising effect but Mayiga has ensured the people’s mindset, especially towards work, is transformed to fit today’s demanding world. In all this, Mayiga has led by example, turning what seemed impossible to possible. It is not a surprise that his tenure is widely seen as a revolutionary shift from the past, not least because he is one of the youngest to hold this office.

As for the restoration of the Kasubi tombs, it is no longer a matter of how, but when. This amply justifies the enormous expectations placed on him. The hope is that Mayiga’s example as a model leader could inspire millions of Ugandan politicians, especially those from Buganda, to strive to unify everyone irrespective of background, religion or political affiliation.

While some people have become popular and powerful due to their star power, Mayiga’s stock has risen purely on meaningful accomplishments.

Interestingly, the policies he pursues are not radically different from those of his predecessors. Mayiga’s magic wand lies in his fearless, all-embracing apolitical approach that has confounded even the sternest of Buganda critics.

That said, there is, certainly, a practical foundation and empirical support for the proposition that Mayiga’s tenure, so far, has increased the sense of competence among the Baganda. It has also reduced the scepticism associated with Buganda politicians.

For example, although the Buganda caucus in Parliament is not divided, the way preceding Buganda caucuses were, it does, however, still experience some squabbles here and there. This practice has, over the years, socially suppressed the aancement of Buganda.

It had corrupted Buganda’s sense of unity, cohesion, and reason. The Mayiga all-encompassing policies have helped unify the politicians. And Mayiga’s tireless efforts do not stop at just donating. He is a big aocate for transparency and accountability, a virtue that has won him the trust, keeping the ‘ettoffaali’ drive clean.

The author is an educationalist specializing in policy research, and a member of the Buganda Twezimbe committee.

Source : The Observer

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