The election of new Kayabazinga Gabula Nadiope IV heralds tranquility in Busoga. The daggers that were raised are laid paving way for stakeholders to assess the future of the monarchy
trueBy John Banalya
The election of new Kayabazinga Gabula Nadiope IV heralds tranquility in Busoga. The daggers that were raised are laid, paving way for stakeholders to assess the future of the monarchy. Good that he has been given mandate for five years with hope that the mess under the Kingdom can be sorted out during this time.
The swearing in had come after a six year protracted struggle between Gabula Nadiope and the Zibondo Columbus Waako of Bulamoji. Many spectators wondered what was wrong in Busoga, but the answer was simply put by President Museveni : the Basoga hardly know the constitution that governs the election of their Kyabazinga.
Under the Busoga Constitution, the Kyabazinga is the Chief Executive of the Institution. He is the leader of equals among the chiefs. He is elected by the Royal Council of 11 chiefs of whom eight must be present for a valid vote to hold. In all previous elections the quorum was not realised hence making the votes invalid. Columbus Waako attempted election in 2008 had received the highest number in attendance (seven) but was short of the eight required hence the legal argument.
The constitution empowers the chairman of Chiefs (Sabalangira) to preside over the meetings of Chiefs, regardless of their status. When the royals meet, it is the Sabalangira who reigns not the Kyabazinga and when they finish the deliberations, their powers are rested in the Kyabazinga as they retreat to their chiefdoms.
The kyabazinga is left at the Bugembe seat to perform his duties until his mandate expires. The constitution also stipulates that in the absence of a Kyabazinga, the Sabalagira should be the acting Kyabazinga, a position the Chief of Bukooli , David Wakooli exploited to the bewilderment of many.
In retrospect, the failure of the Chief of Bulamoji, Columbus Waako to win the throne solely rested on his advisers who ignored the political momentum Gabula was building over the last two years. Gabula mobilised and popularised himself as if he was going for a political contest that youths were ready to demonstrate and fight for his cause as they rightly believed that they were entitled to a cultural leader.
Wambuzi who is known to be more social and articulate than Nadiope preferred clandestine meetings and lobbing which in the end left him in courts with huge legal costs and frustrated royalists who burnt NRM shirts to avert their anger.
Wambuzi frustrated chiefs who wanted him to re-contest with Nadiope by not showing up for their meetings claiming that he was already elected as a Kyabazinga and could not get involved in any meeting that referred to him as only a chief. This was an error. All chiefs regardless of their position are required to meet regularly under the Sabalangira. His failure to come to the meetings led to all progressive chiefs to dish him for Gabula.
But what is the future of the Kyabazingaship? It rest again on the 11 chiefs. In hardly five years, the chiefs must meet again to elect among themselves who will reign. This was the common understanding that paved way for Gabula. Gabula can be re-elected, if the chiefs so wish. However, should the chiefs be careless again then the struggles in Busoga have just began.
Busoga monarch would be the most admired and attractive had the intentions of the fore fathers been implemented. The seat is rotational among the five chiefdoms that have lineage to the Babito of Bunyoro. But greed has taken the better part of the institution. Instead of rotating the throne among the five, two dominant chiefdoms have tended to dominate it without regard to the feelings of the other.
The seat is meant to rotate among the chiefs of Bulamogi, Luuka, Kigulu , Bukooli and Bugabula. There is no reason why the next Kyabazinga out of consensus should not come from the other counties apart from Bulamoji and Bugabula who have quarreled beyond reparable damage.
In 1996, when the rightful heir to the Kigulu Chiefdom, Michael Nsobani abandoned his claim to be chief, preferring to go overseas and pursue further studies and work there, his immediate uncle, Kiregeya claimed the chiefdom of Kigulu, and rightly claimed to be considered for Kyabazingaship.
His arguments were found plausible that the leadership in the country found it necessary for him to enter an agreement with fellow claimant, Henry Muloki. It was agreed then that Muloki should reign for five years after which the seat should be given to Kiregeya. That is how Muloki became Kyabazinga.
But as soon as Muloki took over power, he hurriedly consolidated himself and went ahead to influence the Busogal Lukiko and royal council to pass an amendment to the Busoga constitutution in 2000, removing term limits to the Kyabazinga ship and asserting that whoever is elected a Kyabazinga should reign for life. This effectively ruled out Kiregereya’s assent to the throne. Forces also went under cover and undermined Kiregeya as a chief. His nephew Izimba Gologolo was aided to depose him and currently occupies the seat of Kigulu.
It is also puzzling that Gabula and his handlers agreed to such an amendment. May be they hoped that automatically Muloki would have passed on the torch to the Young Gabula. This was not to happen. When Henry Muloki died, his handlers immediately brought in his son Columbus Wambuzi to assume the seat.
This meant that, a young man in his twenties was going to be elected Kyabazinga for life hence the fierce battle among the royals. There was no rightful thinking chief who was going to sit and wait for the Zibondo to take over leadership for life. To worsen the situation, the Kayabazingaship had agreed to the idea of getting facilitation from the central government, yet none of the Basoga chiefs apart from one has genuine credentials to sustain himself economically.
Speaking from his home in Switzerland, Michael Nsobani, who holds a master’s degree in economic development from the United States and works for the United Nations in Geneva, advised his fellow chiefs to use their position to acquire education and also learn how to establish business to sustain their families.
“I am a royal who realised earlier in life that without money you cannot lead effectively. You waste people’s time. You can be compromised and cannot stand your ground. Money from central government is no solution to building a stable monarch. I advise Gabula Nadiope, Zibondo Wambuzi and other chiefs not to waste time looking for favours. Let they begin to work and be a model to their subjects,” he said.
On possibility of claiming his Chiefdom and the status of Gologolo Izimba in Kigulu Nsobani said, “ Izimba is my cousin. He rightly knows his position. I am the heir to the first family of the Nsobani, the hereditary leader of Kigulu. The family of Nsobani is followed by the Kiregeya family then that of Izimba is the third in lineage. Kiregeya would be the right leader in my absence. But he is poor and cannot command respect. I advise all to work hard economically. They will be accorded respect and power.”
His argument is plausible. The chiefs of Busoga are not happy, following the securing of resources from State House by the Speaker of Parliament, Kadaga to construct a private palace for Gabula at Kamuli . Many chiefs felt they Gabula was being treated in a special manner than other chiefs. They feel State House should do the same to their respective palaces hence making the Speaker of Parliament put this as one of the key programmes for Gabula’s five year rule.
But if this is implemented, it will weaken the Busoga monarch further and is not fair to many Basoga who are not monarchs. The best alternative would be for Kyabazinga Gabula Nadiope and Kadaga to ask the Basoga to contribute towards their chiefs. This will create ownership of their chiefdoms and monarch and not be indebted to the Central government in preserving their culture.
If the Basoga refuse to contribute then that would be an automatic vote of confidence against the institution . Natioanl resources should be left to pay our teachers on time and fix the roads and well as construct hospitals rather than constructing palaces for a few to enjoy in a Republican state.
The writer is a political scientist and United Nations volunteer to conflict area
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