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KCCA to award Aga Khan with honorary citizenship

By John Semakula

Added 16th June 2017 12:43 PM

The Honorary citizenship is a status bestowed by a country on a foreign individual whom it considers to be admirable or otherwise worthy of the distinction.

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The Honorary citizenship is a status bestowed by a country on a foreign individual whom it considers to be admirable or otherwise worthy of the distinction.

President Yoweri Museveni (left) and His Highness the Aga Khan laying the foundation stone for Bujagali Hydro Power Project, Jinja in 2007. Photo/File

His Highness the Aga Khan is set to receive an Honorary Citizenship of Kampala.  

The New Vision has learnt that KCCA has resolved to bestow the prestigious award to the Aga Khan during a special council meeting on Monday.

The Honorary citizenship is a status bestowed by a country on a foreign individual whom it considers to be admirable or otherwise worthy of the distinction.

Asked to explain what the award means, KCCA acting director of communication, Peter Kaujju told New Vision that the details will be revealed at a later stage.

But he explained that this will be the first time that KCCA is giving out such an award to a reputable figure.

The issue of bestowing the award to the Agha Khan was first brought to the attention of the KCCA councillors by the Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago.

Lukwago said KCCA had been requested to award the Aga Khan with either an Honorary Citizenship of Kampala or the Freedom of Kampala City Award. But the Lord Mayor did not reveal the person or office that asked KCCA to recognise the Aga Khan. Lukwago described the Aga Khan as a development partner of KCCA.  

New Vision has learnt that Prince Shah Karim Al Husseini Agha Khan IV, the 49th Imam of Nizari Ismailis will receive the award in recognition of the development roles the Foundation has played in Kampala, Uganda.

But in his comment Jacob Siminyu, the Public Relations officer of the Immigration Department said that the Constitution is silent about honorary citizenship.

Siminyu noted that they derive citizenship from Chapter three of the Constitution.

“The types highlighted in the Constitution are citizenship by birth, adoption, naturalization and dual citizenship,” he said before asking Lukwago to explain honorary citizenship.

The Aga Khan Foundation has operated a chain of multi-billion investments in Uganda for more than 70 years. The foundation portfolio includes investments in businesses, education, media, health, hotels and power generation.

Lukwago said the Aga Khan will receive the award as part of the package of Uganda National Honours as he celebrates 60 years of accession to the throne of Ismaili Imamat.

“I therefore request management to handle this matter and accordingly brief us on the modalities,” Lukwago said. 

The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development owns the 250MW Bujagali Hydro power Plant constructed at a cost of USD 900 million and is building a sh100m hospital in Nakawa Division, Kampala.

KCCA said the award will be handed over to the Aga Khan Foundation.  

Kaujju said the process of awarding the Aga Khan has started. “There is a proposal and records by the authority. The Authority asked us to prepare and arrange to award the Aga Khan upon his contribution to humanity and development in Kampala,” Kaujju said.

He added that the KCCA’s technical team was already making the necessary consultations to see how the award will be bestowed to the Aga Khan.

In the same vein, government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo described KCCA move as the right step in the right direction. “That is the practice in many cities. It is meant to demonstrate that if you are a person of distinguished profile, you will be recognized even in countries where you do not have citizenship,” Opondo said.

He also expressed optimism that when the Aga Khan comes to receive his award, he will be accompanied by followers who may decide to invest more in Uganda. 

Efforts to speak to the Aghan Foundation in Uganda about the issue were futile as the official contacts picked from their website went through unpicked.

New Vision has learnt that the Aga Khan holds another honorary citizenship of Canada, which was awarded to him by former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2009.

President Yoweri Museveni is also said to hold an honorary citizen of the State of Washington in the United States of America. 

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