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Battle for Kampala rages

By Vision Reporter

Added 13th July 2004 03:00 AM

This is mid-day robbery. Me, as a Muganda, I cannot blindly support this. Kampala is part of Buganda and nothing can change that,” Steven Lubwama, a regular radio talk-show contributor shouted.

This is mid-day robbery. Me, as a Muganda, I cannot blindly support this. Kampala is part of Buganda and nothing can change that,” Steven Lubwama, a regular radio talk-show contributor shouted.

By Joshua Kato

This is mid-day robbery. Me, as a Muganda, I cannot blindly support this. Kampala is part of Buganda and nothing can change that,” Steven Lubwama, a regular radio talk-show contributor shouted.

According to Mengo’s proposals to the CRC, they requested that Kampala should be among the districts that make up the region of Buganda.

Charles Peter Mayega, the Mengo information minister, says, “Kabaka Muteesa founded Kampala in 1874. This city developed because it was the Kabaka’s capital in the first place.” He adds “This is a geographical fact. Kampala district is not conceptual. It is a physical piece of land.”

Nsubuga Nsambu, a veteran federal advocate, says, “Kampala was not developed by foreigners, but by us the Baganda. We know that most of the roads in the city today were constructed by the Kabaka.”

Historically though, Kampala developed mainly because the colonialists made it the centre of business.

Cabinet recommended that parliament makes a law providing for the special status. This is a step forward from the 1995 Constitution which does not in anyway mention Kampala as being in Buganda.

This means that even if the Baganda were to create a regional cooperation among the districts, Kampala cannot be part of that regional set up.

According to Nsambu, the struggle for Kampala has been on-going through the years.

Buganda first lost Kampala prior to independence. According to Article 122 of the 1962 Constitution, Kampala was placed outside the control of the Buganda kingdom. “The 1962 Constitution had given Buganda 50% of all taxes collected from fuel sold in and around the city.

This was supposed to be a compromise, but it angered the then President Milton Obote,” Nsambu says. In 1964, Obote stopped this practice, but met resistance from the Baganda.

They argued that if this was to stop, then Kampala would become an integral part of Buganda. In 1966, Obote attacked the Lubiri after Mengo had ordered him to transfer his government from Buganda soil. In 1967, Obote made a new Constitution, which made Uganda a republic and automatically repealed the tax article.

“The Baganda continued with their agitation for federo and Kampala throughout the Amin regime,” Nsambu says.

When Amin returned the body of Sir Edward Muteesa, the Baganda asked for more. However, Amin asked them to be happy with what he had done for them. Delegations of Bataka who had frequented Amin stopped, especially after he became an open tyrant.

When Museveni went to the bush in 1981, federo and Kampala demands resurfaced. Groups of Baganda hinged their support to Museveni on returning the Kabaka, federo and solving the Kampala question.

The issue was discussed extensively in the bush, culminating into a personal visit to the bush by prince Ronald Muwenda Mutebi in 1985. “We were assured by the President that Buganda was to get federo,” says Abdul Nadduli, a veteran and a fanatical federal agitator.

However, there was no signed agreement to ferment it. “It came up during the CA deliberations. But we were taken aside and told that we should forget Kampala,” says Nsambu.

Observers think that what the Baganda want is Constitutional recognition that Kampala is part of Buganda. But this is just a first step. The second step is that after this recognition, the Baganda will then ask for benefits from what is theirs. For example, they can start asking for part of the taxes collected from Kampala.

Elijah Mushemeza, a Makerere University Political Science lecturer and former CA delegate says the Mengo demand has been consistent since the CA.

However, he adds that the reasons given by Mengo are not convincing. “They say Kampala is geographically located in Buganda region, so it should be part of Buganda. This reason is not convincing enough to me,” he says.

There is also the option of having an area of Mengo in which the Bulange and the Lubiri are located cut off from Kampala and turned into a municipality, say of Wakiso district. Under such a set up, Buganda shall have its key entities together. “We certainly can go to parliament and convince them to do it,” says Aisha Kabanda, an official in the office of the President.

Nsambu says such a proposal is an insult to the Baganda. “It should be us the owners to decide what to give them, not them to decide,” he says.

Mwambutsya Ndebesa, a Makerere University don says the main reason Buganda wants to have Kampala is emotional. “The Baganda think that they are deprived of their right.

Some of them think that if the Government says Kampala is not in Buganda, then it implies that Kampala has been taken over by Ankole,” he says. He adds “On the other hand, the Government feels that if Kampala is given back to Buganda, the next thing the Baganda will demand is part of the taxes collected from Kampala”.

Very few capital cities in the world fall under the control of federal or regional governments.

“In most federal or regional units, the seat of the central government is not under any regional government,” says Moses Byaruhanga, special assistant to the President on political affairs.
In the US for example, Washington, the main city is located in the Federal state of Columbia.

To give it a special status, it was decided that Washington be recognised as a district of the state of Columbia, but without any benefits for the larger state hence the name Washington DC.

Even under regional or provincial establishments like in South Africa, Pretoria, the administrative capital, is only geographically located in the province of Kwazulu Natal. In Nigeria’s federal set up, Lagos, the administrative capital, is not part of the state in which it is located.

However, Kyijjomanyi, a federal researcher, says it is not true that major cities are always outside the control of regional or federal authorities.

“Bonn in Germany and Ottawa in Canada are both under the control of their respective states,” he says.

Lawyer Erias Lukwago says the situation in Uganda is different from the common examples given. “In most federal systems, capital cities are separated from regional governments administratively, not territorially.

Kampala, even without a federal or regional set up, was removed from Buganda both administratively and territorially, which the Baganda feel is not fair,” he says.

He adds that whereas the Constitution recognises groups of people with the territories they hold, Kampala is left out of Buganda territorially.

“Those referring to Washington are missing a point. Washington was constructed by foreigners, not by indigenous habitants of America, the Red Indians. On the other hand, Kampala was constructed by the Baganda and they should own it,” says Nsambu.

“There are fears about the land policy. A lot of land in Kampala is owned by the Kingdom, so there is fear that if Kampala comes under the control of the kingdom, people who are on this land will be asked to pay taxes to the kingdom, or seek for lease,” Lukwago says.
But according to Mayega, the authorities at Mengo do not intend to chase away anyone.

“No one will stop the central government or any other person from living in Kampala,” he says.

He adds that it is not only in Kampala where the central government has got important offices. He wonders if for example Entebbe which has the international airport will be curved out of Wakiso and Buganda.

“ They fear that Buganda may decide to become an autonomous country, once they get Kampala,” he says. Around the time of independence in 1961, Buganda actually wanted to receive independence, independent of the rest of Uganda. This fact is perhaps not lost in people`s minds.

Rather than make the same mistakes, the current government would rather refuse the proposal, than allow it to go ahead, only to realize it later. “ I don`t think that the government can give Kampala to Buganda. Even if they want votes, that would be going too far,” Ndebesa says.

He explains that results of such decision will be far reaching. “ For example, although Kampala is a cosmopolitan city, that has thousands of people who don`t pay homage to the kingdom, laws made by the lukiiko will be bidding to all. Can you imagine if for example the lukiiko says that every body in Kampala should kneel down or speak Luganda? He asks.

Changing the capital city from Kampala to another was one of the options discussed in the Constituency assembly. This is what happened in Canada. There were queries over who should control Toronto the capital. A decision was then taken to construct a new city, Ottawa, which became the administrative city for the Federal government. However, in the case of Uganda, such venture is very expensive.

But Mushemeza says that Mmengo should first feel contented with what they have, especially given their past. The Baganda have a saying that Nyama Ntono Okayana eri mu nkwawa,” he says.

Battle for Kampala rages

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