By John Semakula, Pascal Kwesiga and Charles Kakamwa
The Government plans to verify all the properties that cultural institutions are demanding to ensure that whatever is returned formerly belonged to the current claimants.
Sulaiman Madada, the state minister for the elderly and culture, told New Vision that only legally attainable properties would be returned to the cultural institutions.
Madada was responding to concerns that cultural institutions were demanding properties, like sub-county and county headquarters, that did not belong to them before 1966.
He said the properties which the Government will return must have belonged to the cultural institution by 1966, when the institutions were abolished.
Critics say a few cultural institutions, like Buganda, owned sub-county and county headquarters by 1966, because the kingdom occupied a special status of a state within a state and had a strong centralised system of government.
However, others like presidential press secretary Tamale Mirundi say not even Buganda owned the county and sub-county headquarters.
“Buganda just bullied the Central Government to get the sub-county and county headquarters, but, like the other cultural institutions, it didn’t own them,” he said.
But Joseph Bbosa, the vice-president of the Uganda People’s Congress, says cultural institutions, which had a powerful centralised system of governance, like Buganda, Bunyoro and Ankole, owned the headquarters.
Bbosa noted that cultural institutions that were created after independence in Bugisu and Lango, plus those which had a weak centralised system of government, did not own sub-county or county headquarters.
Officials from several cultural institutions, like Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu, Toro Kingdom, Bunyala and Busoga, insist the central Government should return county and sub-county headquarters to them.
For example, the hereditary ruler of Bunya, one of the 11 chiefdoms of Busoga Kingdom, Luba Munulo, said Busoga’s demand for county and sub-county headquarters was constitutional.
He explained that the 1962 Constitution established a federal system of governance for the entire country, including Busoga.
Munulo explained that: “Each hereditary chief had his cultural headquarters in his chiefdom, which, under the federal system, were referred to as counties (masaza).”
He added that the chiefs also had sub-county headquarters in their chiefdoms.
“Currently, these headquarters are being used as local government county or sub-county headquarters,” Munulo added.
However, Henry Ford Mirima, an elder from Bunyoro, said the sub-county and county headquarters should only be returned to the cultural institutions if the regional tier system of governance is operationalised.
Mirima said the institutions are currently not implementing any official responsibility on behalf of the people in the regions, so it wouldn’t help much giving them the headquarters.