CABINET last week decided that the regional tier system should be adopted for districts which want to form regional governments instead of introducing federalism.
CABINET last week decided that the regional tier system should be adopted for districts which want to form regional governments instead of introducing federalism. The decision comes after several months of acrimonious debate on the subject.
The decision to form a regional government shall be made by a resolution of the district councils which opt for it, supported by two thirds of all members of the council.
Because Mengo has been pushing for federo, the 10 districts of Buganda will be deemed to have agreed to form a regional government, according to Cabinet. But Mengo has rejected the proposal and its parliament (Lukiiko) was summoned (Monday) to digest governmentâ€™s stand.
One of the terms of reference for the Constitutional Review Commission was to consider whether federalism should be introduced.
To many Ugandans, federalism is associated with Buganda and its common feature is the division of power between the central and local government, as was in the immediate post-independence era.
How Buganda gained special status
Buganda became most prominent during the colonial rule because it was where the rest of Uganda was built. It gained from the earlier establishment of infrastructure both human and physical. Buganda, unlike Bunyoro, accepted British rule on the supposition that because of the 1900 agreement, it was a protectorate and not a colony.
Bugandaâ€™s administrative structures and chiefs were used to spread colonial rule to other areas of Uganda. In recognition of this, Buganda was allowed to retain a great degree of self-governance. The special status of the kingdom areas was a major issue of compromise in the independence Constitution when it provided for two modes of local governance referred to as federal and unitary status.
The central government had jurisdiction over defence, external affairs, internal security, finance, the public service, immigration, criminal law, health, veterinary services, civil aviation, land registration, trade, commerce and judicial matters, excluding Bugandaâ€™s clan courts.
In addition, Buganda had exclusive jurisdiction on its public service, the Lukiiko and its public debt. The duality in local governance subsisted until the replacement of the 1962 Constitution in 1967 by ex- President, Milton Obote .
It was noted that this kind of federalism was not chosen as a form of governance for Uganda. It was adopted as a compromise to maintain the special status of Buganda and the other kingdom areas. It therefore lacked parity of treatment for all areas.
The involvement of Kabakaâ€™s name in politics and the Kabakaâ€™s involvement in national political issues when acting as the president of Uganda did not augur well for the survival of federalism.
The peopleâ€™s views
When the Ssempebwa Commission went round the country, those who opposed federalism argued that if granted, Buganda would enjoy a special status and yet it has been developed by all the tribes and that non-Baganda would be chased out of Buganda.
They also argued that federalism, which had failed to work in the past, would cause disunity and uneven growth, creating a government within a government. They prefer federalism at East African level.
Those in favour of federalism argued that it would bring about economic balance because each region would develop itself, reduce conflicts in the country, reduce power struggles at the centre, encourage competition and development and bring together people with a common cultural identity and encourage preservation of culture.
According to the views collected, only 30% of all the people who made submission on the issue supported federalism.
The support for federalism was more pronounced in Buganda. In every district within Buganda including Kampala, except Nakasongola and Sembabule, the majority who addressed the issue were in favour of a federo arrangement for the whole country.
However, all the responses were in favour of a federal arrangement for only those areas that want it.
The majority of responses from other regions of Uganda were not in favour of federalism. The clamour for federalism in Buganda is seen as a way of rectifying a grave wrong which was committed when federalism and monarchy were abolished by Obote.
Contrary to popular belief, federalism does not imply monarchy, does not have to be ethnic-based and does not necessarily lead to equitable distribution of resources, neither does it empower people, according to findings.
What Mengo, Bunyoro , Busoga want
Buganda cultural leaders at Mengo submitted a detailed memorandum in support of federalism for the whole of Uganda. It stated that the people of Buganda were opposed to the charter provided for in the constitution because the districts operate on delegated, decentralised powers from the central government without regional autonomy.
The charter makes the central government retain the major initiatives in policy matters, plus levying and collecting taxes. Bunyoro and Busoga also supported federalism. Memorandum in favour of federo was also received from elders and chiefs of Acholi who said they would support it, if it applied to the whole country.
Bunyoro wanted a government of the Kingdom
What is this federo thing?