TOP
Wednesday,September 30,2020 00:05 AM
  • Home
  • Archive
  • The 1961 elections set the agenda for future quarrels

The 1961 elections set the agenda for future quarrels

By Vision Reporter

Added 12th June 2006 03:00 AM

In a way the general elections held in 1961 and boycotted by Buganda marked the start of the final lap in Uganda’s race for independence. At the same time they set the agenda for our future quarrels and
heartaches in the post-independence period.

In a way the general elections held in 1961 and boycotted by Buganda marked the start of the final lap in Uganda’s race for independence. At the same time they set the agenda for our future quarrels and
heartaches in the post-independence period.

Peter Mulira

In a way the general elections held in 1961 and boycotted by Buganda marked the start of the final lap in Uganda’s race for independence. At the same time they set the agenda for our future quarrels and
heartaches in the post-independence period.

The elections which resulted from the recommendations of the Wild Committee report on the future development of the country fell short of giving Uganda what is known as a responsible government although they produced an African majority in the Legco and the executive.

The Wild Committee was appointed by the British government in 1959 with its terms of reference being confined to making recommendation on how a common electoral role might be introduced, how many seats in the legislative council there should be and generally to advise the governor on the future size and composition of the legislative council, amongst others.

The committee however went beyond its strict terms of reference and recommended responsible government for the country with a prime minister but the British government rejected this proposal outright as it did in the case of some of the other far-reaching recommendations which were either rejected outright or scaled down. Among the recommendations which were accepted were that direct elections should be held as early in 1961 as they could be arranged and that there should be in the executive a majority of non-official ministers which automatically meant an African majority.

When Ben Kiwanuka and his Democratic Party won the
elections he was given the title of Chief Minister and leader of government business but once in power with his type of personality he wielded more powers
than the title suggested. Later, following discussions

in London the title of prime minister was accepted. Kiwanuka’s victory was, however, rather negative because the turn-up in Buganda amounted to only 4% of the possible voters due to the boycott of the elections by the Buganda Lukiiko, a fact which might have undermined Kiwanuka’s negotiating position with the British especially in his later campaign for not having another election just before independence in 1962. Apart from having a majority African government, one other direct outcome of the Wild Committee was the coming together of the Uganda National Congress under Milton Obote and the Uganda People’s Union under William Rwetsiba in jointly attacking the British government’s reaction to the report, a cooperation which resulted in the formation of the Uganda People’s Congress in March 1960. Since UPU was made up of district representatives in the Legco, the coming together of the two parties had the effect of uniting the rest of the country under one umbrella, at least at the leadership level, leaving Buganda standing on its own with discordant interests.

This dichotomy in aspirations has bedevilled us up to now. In Buganda itself cracks began to surface in the Lukiiko as it became more and more clear that the
kingdom had become rudderless. In April 1961 there were moves to expel “traitors” from the Lukiiko which Abu Mayanja, a minister, described as a desperate move to cloak failure especially in implementing the resolution for Buganda’s independence and on another occasion Michael Kintu, the Katikkiro, angrily challenged members to vote him out after being criticised for inefficiency. It was against such background of discordance between Uganda and Buganda and within Buganda itself that delegations from the districts and Buganda later left for the London constitutional conference at which Uganda’s future was sealed when UPC crossed over to support Buganda’s demands including the holding of indirect elections of Buganda MPs by a directly elected Lukiiko.

When the Kabaka, together with the Buganda delegation returned from the conference they were met by one of the largest crowds ever seen in the country chanting

“Kabaka Yekka” and shrewd politicians were quick tochannel this massive support into a carry-all loose association they opportunistically called Kabaka
Yekka (KY).

Later in December 1961, Kabaka Yekka and UPC formed a united front to fight the elections to the Lukiiko which subsequently was to deliver all the 21 Buganda seats in the National Assembly to UPC which enabled it to form a government with the seats it won elsewhere as against DP’s 22 seats.

The joint UPC-KY declaration which was made announced that KY appreciated “the impressive spirit of leadership on the part of the UPC during the London conference to which it attributes the responsibility for the solution of the differences between Buganda and the rest of Uganda”. But as events later showed,
the solutions at the conference only turned out to be
time bombs.

When the results of the general elections were announced on April 27, 1962, UPC had won 37 seats outside Buganda as against 22 for DP and with Buganda’s 21 seats UPC was able to form the government with a comfortable majority. However, the honeymoon in the UPC-KY alliance was shortlived since soon after independence on October 10, 1962 the KY group in parliament started complaining of being sidelined and the opening up of UPC branches in Buganda widened the rift.

By early July 1963 it was common knowledge that a section in the Mengo cabinet wanted KY MPs to cross over to the opposition DP and the Mengo Solicitor General, Fred Mpanga, let the cat out of the bag when he openly warned in a press statement that the one party system was the shortest way to dictatorship, most likely alluding to the e crossover by DP members to the UPC side. Finally, on July 7, 1963, the KY group in parliament met and a decision to cross over to DP en masse was only put off by the reading of a last-minute letter from Dr. Obote in which he promised to solve all the

outstanding problems, which never happened.

As time progressed, the relationship between UPC and KY became more and more strenuous as UPC gained more strength.

In the end, KY was left with three choices, namely either to join DP or UPC or becoming a national party. In a meeting which was held at Mengo it was decided

that KY members of parliament cross over to UPC after

DP’s members in the house had become insignificant.

All the KY members with the exception of Amos Sempa and Sugra Visram crossed and the frictions which ensued led to the problems of 1966.

The 1961 elections set the agenda for future quarrels

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author