AS the parliamentary debate on the regional tier for Buganda entered the third day on Wednesday it was evident that the Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 2 had overwhelming support from the House.
The debate wasnâ€™t devoid of legislators albeit a few who opposed the provision hinting at granting Buganda a special status while some were still held hostage of the aftermath of colonialism where the kingdom emerged with a semi-autonomous status.
Buganda MPs were solidly behind the Katikkiro of Buganda Joseph Semwogerere who had written to the Government saying that the Bill was not consistent with what was agreed between the government and Mengo.
Defence Minister and Chief government negotiator of Federo with Buganda, Amama Mbabazi, conceded that a number of issues agreed with Buganda were left out of the draft Bill and assured the House that the differences had been sorted out amicably.
â€œSome points that had not been negotiated were in the Bill. This was because the Attorney General looked at the Bill and there were gaps, so he made proposals to fill the gaps. I take responsibility because it was me who did not present the position to the cabinet,â€ Mbabazi said.
He said Mengo and the Government had gone through all the issues raised and were now in agreement. â€œI have reported to cabinet. It has considered all these positions and is due to confirm the decisions.â€
Despite the overwhelming support, there was resistance from a few MPs especially from Bunyoro, arguing that the regional tier was a Buganda thing and not a national issue.
Winnie Matsiko (Bujenje) said: â€œWe are here debating a sectarian Bill intended to cater for Bugandaâ€™s interests and not anybody elseâ€™s. Why is Buganda deemed to have agreed to form a regional tier and not other areas like Bunyoro, which are interested.
â€œIf you try to deem Buganda now, some of the districts you are talking about will opt out and yet the three districts of Bunyoro-Kitara have agreed to form a regional tier, why canâ€™t they be deemed,â€ she said.
Mbabazi said the question of Buganda being deemed to have accepted the regional tier was historical because there was a demand for it by Buganda.
â€œGovernment has no problem with any districts that need to be deemed in the same way. Let them express their interest through laid out procedures,â€he said.
Muruli Mukasa (Nakasongola) demanded to know what would happen to districts that declined to be deemed to have accepted the regional tier. Muruli said that his people had never asked for a federal system of governance. He said that it should not be imposed on those who donâ€™t want it. He said the Baruli had no malicious intentions.
Mbarara Woman MP Miria Matembe opposed the Bill. She said: â€œThis whole regional tier thing is put here because of Buganda. Why this preferential treatment.
â€œWhy doesnâ€™t the State just come out and say Buganda is a state within Uganda. The people of Uganda are happy with their districts, how does government reconcile these. It is a recipe for conflict and misery and going back to chaos.â€
She said after MPs went to consult with their constituents, they reported back to Parliament saying that the people did not want regional tiers. She wondered how they turned around to like it.
Kasirivu Atwooki (Bugangayizi) opposed the bill saying that Bunyoro had got a raw deal in the regional tier arrangement because they were never consulted. He said it was a historical fact that Bunyoro had for a long time been wronged and that the Banyoro thought their issues would be addressed under the same bill.
He said, â€œIt is wrong for the government to consult certain sections of people and leave out others. We in Bunyoro are very few, our concerns can be neglected, but we are watching. We seem to be ignored.â€
He demanded that some land in Mubende, a district in Buganda, initially belonged to Bunyoro and it should be returned.
Masaka municipality MP, John Baptist Kawanga supported the Bill saying that although it might not satisfy everybodyâ€™s interests, it was a step in the right direction.
He said, â€œThe government must be commended for this bill. It is not nationalistic enough to tear the bill apart, the attempts are good and we should build on them, for those of you who donâ€™t want it leave it.â€
Kampala central MP Francis Babu said under the regional tier arrangements districts would be left with their powers but the bill seeks to bridge the development gaps, consolidate the gains of decentralisation and come up with strong entities.
He said, â€œToday every body wants a regional tier and we should have it. If there are misconceptions that have been created, we are brothers and sisters we can find solutions to them. This house must be seen to unite the country and get away from that philosophy of divide and rule. If our communities are united, we form a very strong country.â€
State minister for health Mike Mukula who said Teso region was ready for a regional tier said it was wrong to create an impression that a regional tier was aimed at giving Buganda a special status. He said a regional tier was not ethnic based adding that the bill was non-sectarian because it had some clauses that protect the interests of other people. He said Uganda has worked as a state, created new districts to accommodate ethnicity and build internal cohesion.
Agriculture minister Janat Mukwaya said, â€œThe Baganda were unfortunate that they were found where they are. Let the Baganda not be condemned for having been found where they are.â€ She said Baganda had lived harmoniously with other tribes in Buganda. Mukwaya said the bill recognised what are kingdom areas and republicans as a unique situation because Uganda was a unique country.
â€œWe do not need to imitate anybody because Uganda is a unique country,â€ she added. She said the fact that the bill seeks to address some of the issues that Buganda had all along wanted to be addressed was a starting point.
Prime minister Prof. Apolo Nsibambi dismissed claims that at one time he advocated for feudal status for Buganda.
He said, â€œI have never articulated for feudalism for Buganda at any one given time. I am not stupid to advocate for that.â€
Ken Lukyamuzi (Rubaga South), James Kakooza (Kabula), Capt David Matovu (Kooki), Henry Mutebi Kityo (Mawokota South), Peter Mutuluza (Mawokota North), James Kubeketerya (Bunya South), Gagawala Wambuzi (Bulamogi), Emmanuel Dombo (Bunyoli) also supported the Bill.
Parliament debates the regional tier Bill