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Kabaka’s Bugerere fiasco: Implications for Uganda

By Vision Reporter

Added 7th October 2009 03:00 AM

STILL fresh in our memories is the September 11-13, bloody street riots and the destruction sparked off by Katikkiro Walusimbi’s abortive trip to Kayunga.

By Richard Okech

STILL fresh in our memories is the September 11-13, bloody street riots and the destruction sparked off by Katikkiro Walusimbi’s abortive trip to Kayunga.

Further escalation of violence was only averted with massive security deployment and Kabaka Mutebi’s decision to back off from his Bugerere itinerary. In an unexpected turn of events, splashed across the front pages of Kampala’s leading dailies, were pictures of a beaming Ronald Mutebi and President Museveni at State House, marking a whittling down of the four-year icy relationship between the two sides.

It is yet to be seen whether the meeting will yield concessions between Museveni and Mutebi on the contentious question of the constitutionally provided regional tier system.

The central government has vowed to push ahead with the tier system next year, while Mengo still demands a federal status for Buganda, among other points of disagreement.

The President has the unenviable task of implementing the regional tier system without alienating the Baganda.

It is not clear to what extent loyalty for the Kabaka in Buganda translates into political support given that Buganda does not have a political party.

Buganda’s political support has been for the NRM, if we go by the voting pattern in previous elections. Published results of the 2005/2006 general elections show that nationally, 50 out of 69 elected district chairpersons were NRM while 298 MPs were NRM compared to a paltry 56 opposition MPs, notwithstanding the subsequent election petitions results.

A large number of these elected district and parliamentary leaders are from Buganda. As for presidential elections, the President garnered 4.1 million popular votes out of 7.2 million votes cast.

Out of the total votes cast, 2 million were from Buganda’s 15 districts. In the predominantly Baganda sub-counties of Buganda, the President got 1.2 million votes as opposed to Besigye’s 740,000. This implies there is a potentially large swing vote in Buganda.

Whereas Buganda’s political leaders and important central government officials may regard themselves as Buganda’s power-brokers, this is not automatic. Electoral dynamics show that the electorate is unpredictable and can throw out pro-government political leaders due to domestic grievances.

In Kenya, Kibaki’s key cabinet ministers such as his vice, Moody Awori, lost out in the last general elections. Even in Uganda, heavy weight NRM government ministers such as Mike Mukula were shown the exit.

Given Uganda’s violent history, all Ugandans must rise above individualistic and sub-nationalistic interests, and find a formula for peaceful co-existence. If any part of Uganda goes up in flames, we are all losers.

Ugandans were painfully reminded of the bad old days, when Kampala came to a standstill for three days.

It is absurd, because Uganda has been warning her neighbours of going down the path of violence. Given our post-independence history, Ugandans need not be reminded of Kenya’s post-election violence that nearly tore that country apart.

The Kenyan violence resulted in the formation of an externally assisted coalition government and impending indictment of election violence perpetrators.

Ugandans also need not be reminded of the Zimbabwean experience where pro-government militia terrorised people targeted as the opposition.

It is needless to refer to the horrific Rwanda experience, yet twice recently, certain races (Asians) and ethnic groups (Banyankole) have been targeted in the street violence in Buganda region.
The writer is a secondary school teacher and author

Kabaka’s Bugerere fiasco: Implications for Uganda

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