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Tuesday,October 20,2020 14:30 PM

Mengo lists Federo demands

By Vision Reporter

Added 19th September 2009 03:00 AM

MENGO is determined to push for federo a federal system in which a regional government of Buganda is headed by the Kabaka (king). The kingdom’s attorney general, Apollo Makubuya, told Saturday Vision that they would not give up on their demands, as pres

MENGO is determined to push for federo a federal system in which a regional government of Buganda is headed by the Kabaka (king). The kingdom’s attorney general, Apollo Makubuya, told Saturday Vision that they would not give up on their demands, as pres

By Moses Mulondo

MENGO is determined to push for federo a federal system in which a regional government of Buganda is headed by the Kabaka (king). The kingdom’s attorney general, Apollo Makubuya, told Saturday Vision that they would not give up on their demands, as presented to the 2003 Ssempebwa Commission.

These include full control of all the land that currently in the hands of the central government and the district land boards within central Uganda.

They also want the regional government to retain about half the taxes collected in the region.

Makubuya said unlike the post-independence situation where federo was only for Buganda, this time they want all regions to have it.

Under the 1962 Constitution, Buganda had a federal status while Bunyoro, Tooro, Ankole and Busoga kingdoms were semi-federal. The other districts had a unitary government.

In Mengo’s 161-page document, which Saturday Vision accessed, Mengo proposed the creation of four regional states comprising the Northern, the Eastern, the Western and Buganda (central).

They also gave the option of district coalitions forming federal states at sub-regional level.

In Buganda, the Kabaka would become a constitutional monarch heading a regional government, according to the proposal. However, policies would be made by the Lukiiko (Buganda parliament).

The report does not specify how the Katikiro (prime minister) and Lukiiko (parliament) would be put in place.

At the moment, the Lukiiko is a traditional council comprising over 100 individuals appointed by the Kabaka. The current Katikiro is also appointed by the Kabaka.

However, in the 1960s, before the monarchy was abolished by former president Milton Obote, most Lukiiko members were directly elected. The Lukiiko then elected a prime minister.

The fact that none of the Mengo officials are elected is the main point of contention between the central Government and the Buganda kingdom.

“The real issue is whether we should have political kings, kings wielding political authority,” President Yoweri Museveni told Parliament on Tuesday.

“This concept is totally rejected by the NRM because it is anti-democracy. The king is not elected. If he wields political power, how will he be held accountable?”

Unlike political leaders who can be voted out when they make mistakes, the kings cannot be removed, he explained. “That is why we made it clear to those who were agitating for kingdoms that those traditional leaders must be only cultural, to deal with our languages and customs that are not addressed by the modern institutions.”

In 2005, after protracted negotiations, the Government and the Mengo negotiating team agreed that Buganda would get a regional government in which the Katikkiro would be directly elected.

The Lukiiko rejected this proposal, insisting that candidates be vetted by a council of Batakka (clan leaders) before they could stand.

Their fear was that a popular non-Muganda might become a prime minister and hijack the kingdom. The Government, on the other hand, insisted that pre-selecting the candidates would be undemocratic.

Another reason cited by Mengo for rejecting the agreement was that the regional government would have no control over the districts.

The districts would remain under the supervision of the central Government. Furthermore, a district had the freedom to decide whether or not to belong to the regional government.

Mengo, however, wants the districts to be controlled by the regional government. Thus the regional government would appoint officials for positions that are currently appointed by the central Government.

In his Tuesday speech, Museveni said the Government would move ahead next year to implement the regional tier system, which would create regional governments led by a directly elected prime minister.

Vice-President Gilbert Bukenya, a Muganda himself and perceived a confidant of the Kabaka, has been drumming up support within Buganda for the regional tier system.

“Once democracy overtakes the monarchy, you are wasting time when you talk of going back to the absolute federalism of the monarchy we used to have before the colonialists,” Bukenya recently said in an interview with Sunday Vision.

The opposition would support Mengo’s proposal because it weakens the power of the Government.

Ken Lukyamuzi, chairperson of the opposition inter-party cooperation, said the “national cake” cannot be distributed equally in the current unitary system.

Most opposition parties want each region to be given autonomy to manage its affairs, he said.

Lukyamuzi cited the example of a hybrid federal system in Malaysia, with 14 federal states, five of which are traditional kingdoms.

“Uganda needs to adopt a hybrid model of federalism like that of Malaysia which encompasses both kingdom and non-kingdom regions. This will reduce corruption and lead to effective utilisation of the resources in the different regions of Uganda,” he said.

The reality in Uganda, however, is that with decentralisation, corruption and inefficiency in public services have moved from the Government to the district level. The Police are investigating wide-spread corruption in many districts, several of them led by the opposition.

Most sub-county health centres, which are controlled by district local governments, are closed during working hours and over half of the staff is absent at any one time, as Saturday Vision discovered.

Sources in Mengo revealed that the kingdom is planning a robust, countrywide campaign for federo.

Mengo wants to enter into direct negotiations with other regions to rally support for federo.

The launch of the campaign is slated at the kingdom’s second annual conference themed “the Uganda we want” next month.

The Buganda kingdom plans to encourage other regions to organise similar conferences, after which they will mobilise for a national conference to bring together all regional interests.

With this agenda, it is clear that Mengo is not contented with having a purely cultural role, as was the understanding when the kingdoms were restored.

A law defining the powers of the kings, as recently proposed by Museveni, should sort out what is fundamentally a power struggle between Mengo and the central Government.

Mengo lists Federo demands

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