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We won’t tolerate Mengo’s unconstitutional behaviour

By Vision Reporter

Added 11th September 2009 03:00 AM

A Statement by H.E. Yoweri K. Museveni, during the meeting with the Buganda Parliamentary Caucus,
Entebbe State House, 10th September 2009.

A Statement by H.E. Yoweri K. Museveni, during the meeting with the Buganda Parliamentary Caucus,
Entebbe State House, 10th September 2009.

A Statement by H.E. Yoweri K. Museveni, during the meeting with the Buganda Parliamentary Caucus,
Entebbe State House, 10th September 2009.

Buganda Parliamentary Caucus
I greet you all.

I have come to address you about the sustained unconstitutional behaviour of His Highness Kabaka Mutebi, the Mengo Kingdom officials and the Kabaka’s Radio, CBS.

As you know, the kingdoms were abolished in 1966 by the UPC government. Even when Uganda got independence in 1962, I was old enough to follow the events. I was 18 years old and in senior two at Ntare. I was also a youth-winger of the Democratic Party (DP) although I did not vote in 1962 because the voting age was 21 years at that time. Therefore, the youths who say the NRM does not care about them should, first, remember that it was the NRM who lowered the voting age to 18 years to include the youths early enough. In the period preceding independence, there was debate and maneuvers among the players.

The Mengo establishment formed a political party called Kabaka Yekka (KY), which used intimidation, especially against DP supporters in Buganda, to win all the seats in the Lukiiko except 3. DP took a principled stand and pointed out that it was dangerous to mix politics with traditional leadership.

The Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), on the other hand, deceived Mengo that they would do whatever the Kabaka wanted even if it was not compatible with the principles of democracy.

The consequence of all this was, for instance, the denial of Baganda from voting directly for their 21 Members of Parliament (MPs). While the rest of the country voted for the MPs directly, Buganda had to use the Electoral College system – the Lukiiko, which itself had been elected through disgusting intimidation, being the Electoral College. The intimidation included boycotts of businesses, cutting people’s crops, etc.

It is amazing that CBS, working with the Nambozes, has revived this. It will not be allowed to continue, you can be sure of this.
Then, KY formed an alliance with UPC (omukago), this was ‘a marriage-of-convenience’, based on that dishonest formula where UPC believed they were using KY and vice-versa. The Federal and semi-federal (federo) arrangements they constructed amounted to having states within states in such a small country like Uganda.

Uganda is only the size of the US state of Oregon. Moreover, the concept of a modern government was new. How could you have such a paralyzed system of government with numerous power centres manned by people that were only beginning to hear of an accountable government?

You can see the problems we are having with the decentralization process we put in place. On account of the incredible corruption that had crept into the systems of Local Governments, we had to re-centralize the CAOs. You have been hearing that powers of taxation have been abused by town-clerks, Gombolola-chiefs, etc. They have been, for instance, overtaxing banana-sellers, muchomo-sellers, gonja-sellers, etc. What would happen if we had been constitutionally enfettered in such a way that we could not correct these anti-people mistakes? You remember the problems of Nigeria with their Federal Regions that caused the 1965 crisis in Nigeria.

It was the paralysis in the constitutional arrangements of the 1962 Ugandan Constitution plus UPC’s lack of straight forwardness and their double standards that, eventually, caused the 1966 crisis and all the subsequent tragic events. By 1986, about 800,000 Ugandans had died through the extra-judicial violence that followed those mistakes. In 1966, I was a very active DP youth-winger, this time in senior six. Our group vigorously opposed Obote’s actions although we were aware of the flaws in the 1962 Constitution.

The situation kept deteriorating until we took up arms against the dictatorship in 1971. When we triumphed in 1986, the subject of restoring the traditional leaders started coming up. Even in the bush, opportunists like the late Kayiira started bringing it up. In the bush, however, especially during the Kikunyu conference of 1982, the NRM openly rejected Kayiira’s position of talking about monarchies. We said that we were fighting for the freedom of Ugandans; once the Ugandans had got their freedom they would decide on what to do.

That was our position. Our major points were captured in the 10-Points Programme. Therefore, those liars who say that we committed ourselves to monarchism in the bush should be disregarded. Many senior Baganda leaders, etc. – came to see me about this issue. I sought guarantees from them that the monarchies, when restored, will never meddle in politics again, as happened in the 1960s and before. They all agreed and swore that they would never allow their monarchy to meddle in politics. That is how that principle was captured in article 246 (3 e). The same article (3 f) provides that cultural leaders will not ‘wield Legislative, Executive or Administrative powers’. Article 178 reiterates the same principles and goes into details.

While those discussions were going on and decisions were being taken, other old issues re-emerged. The Banyoro MPs, especially Hon. Kabakumba and even Muruli Mukasa, raised the issue of the Bunyoro lost counties: Buwekula (Mubende), Ssingo (Kiboga), Buruuli (Nakasongola) and even parts of Bulemezi (Ngoma, etc.). They wanted them to be returned to Bunyoro. I told them that ideologically, as a nationalist and Pan-Africanist, I did not believe in the concept of “lost counties” within Uganda. I gave the example of my family. Suppose, I said, for some reasons, one of my children grew up at Saleh’s place. It could be because I was sick or away. Are you going to say that he is “lost”? I did not think so, I told them.

However, there was one proviso: he must be well treated; he must be treated like Saleh’s own children. If he is discriminated against, then the question of his real parentage comes up. We, therefore, constitutionally provided that all these areas should remain in Buganda as provided for under Article 5 of the 1995 Constitution. However, also, under 37, it is stipulated that: “Every person has a right as applicable to belong to, enjoy, practice, profess, maintain and promote any culture, cultural institution, language, tradition, creed or religion in community with others.”
In this way we persuaded all the Banyoro MPs, including Muruli Mukasa, to vote for the whole package. It was a carefully arranged package, ensuring that everybody was a winner; a win-win formula with no losers.
Unfortunately, however, no sooner had we promulgated the Constitution of 1995, than I started hearing that Mengo was undermining the NRM. I could not believe this. Whenever I would hear such stories, I would ring His Highness Kabaka Mutebi and invite him for meetings. The trend, however, continued and it grew worse in the elections of 2001 and 2006. The Buganda Kingdom Radio spends most of their time demonizing NRM and Museveni, I hear. I never listen to such Radios. However, the wanainchi listen to them. I ignored all this.

As you all know, the NRM repaired the economy of Uganda. As the economy boomed, the price of land went up. The old colonial arrangement of mailo-land now came under strain. The old mailo-land system provided for a paralyzed system of land-holding. Since the 1928 busuulu and nvujo law, the bibanja-owners could not be evicted without the authority of the Governor and there was a ceiling on the busuulu to be paid.

Apart from the Idi Amin land decree of 1975, these two have remained the main principles of the land law in Buganda. Our land Act of 1997 recaptured the same principles after the 1995 Constitution had repealed the Amin decree of 1975.

On account of the rampant evictions, caused by the high demand for land, which, itself, is caused by the fast growing economy, there was outcry in the public, among the peasants. Even some of you MPs, like Hon. Sekikubo, complained about these evictions.

As a consequence of this, I proposed an amendment to stop the evictions. The unprincipled, opportunistic opposition opposed that proposed amendment. On account of reasons I did not initially understand, His Highness Kabaka Mutebi also came out to publicly oppose the proposed Amendment. I think this was a violation of the Constitution.

Additionally, the Kabaka’s Radio, CBS, launched a campaign against the amendment. His Highness the Kabaka commissioned a group of people led by Nambooze to travel around Buganda and incite people, with all sorts of incredible lies, against the proposed land bill amendment and the Government. Museveni ayagala kubba ettaka lyamwe – Museveni wants to steal your land, etc.

CBS promoted sectarianism, at one time talking of people with long noses (ab’enyindo mpanvu). It is not our duty to measure people’s noses – long or short. My reaction was to ring His Highness the Kabaka to invite him for a meeting to sort out all this amicably as mature people. His Highness, however, could not pick my telephones or have the courtesy of returning my calls. I told my Principal Private Secretary, Amelia Kyambadde, to keep calling him to no avail.

His Highness the Kabaka could not take the calls of the President of Uganda; moreover, the President that led the struggle for democracy and the monarchies. I hear that the Baganda have two proverbs: ‘gwowonya eggere yalikusambya’ (if you help a person to treat a wound on his leg, he will use that particular leg you treated to kick you). Another one says: ‘oguggwa tegubamuka’ (a forgetful person will not recall that the old beer he drunk, is sweeter than the new beer he is currently drinking).’
Anyway, given my work methods, I did not give up. Whenever any controversy came up involving Mengo, I would telephone His Highness the Kabaka; he would, however, not answer my telephones as usual.

When the controversy over Buruuli came up, I telephoned him; but he refused to answer my telephone. I referred the matter to the National Security Council which contacted the Katikkiro and advised him to have a dialogue with the Baruuli cultural leaders or postpone the visit.

They treated our advice with contempt. The National Security Council, with my full support, this time, said enough is enough; they stopped the Kabaka from visiting certain parts of Buruuli although he was allowed to visit Migyera where there were some CBS activities.

When the issue of Bugerere came up, I have been trying to talk to His Highness the Kabaka, since May 2009. Again, he persistently refused to answer my calls; I kept trying. At one time I was told that he was abroad. That should not be a problem. There are telephones abroad. My Principal Private Secretary and I failed totally to access him.

When the Bugerere issues were building up, after failing to get the Kabaka, I referred the matter to the National Security Council who wrote to the Katikkiro.
Rt. Hon. Kivejinja even met the Katikkiro and advised him to talk to the Banyala cultural leaders as well as the Local Government elected leaders and Administrators. Mengo made it clear that they treat all those with contempt. Given that unacceptable arrogance, the National Security Council, with my full support, through informal channels, told Mengo, most firmly, that the function will not take place. That was the position by yesterday evening.

Meanwhile, I have been consulting some of the influential Baganda about this. I told them that we can no longer tolerate this unconstitutional behaviour of Mengo with the apparent connivance of the Kabaka. The progressive forces will definitely take decisive actions soon. During those consultations it transpired that the Lukiiko is now dominated by opposition political activists especially the ones that lost elections.

Most of the balanced voices have been removed from the Lukiiko.
Anyway, last evening, about 8.00 p.m., I, again, asked Amelia to try and ring the Kabaka one more time.

This time the Kabaka responded; he rung Amelia who also rung me in our gazebo where I was having dinner with some friends. She rung me at 9.15 p.m. but I told her that I was having dinner and I could not have the privacy to talk. We arranged to talk at 10.30pm. Indeed, we talked at 10.30p.m. I asked him: “Your Highness, why have you been refusing to answer my telephone calls for the last 2 years?”

He answered that he was not “aware” that I had been ringing. I asked him: Why does your CBS abuse and demonize us?” He answered: “I do not believe that is true.” Anyway, we went into the immediate matter of Kayunga’s function. I told him that because of the sustained unconstitutional behaviours by your Kingdom, that meeting will only be permitted to take place only under certain conditions which Hon. Kivejinja will communicate to the Katikkiro today (Thursday, 10th of September 2009). I had actually wanted to meet the Kabaka himself today (Thursday, 10th of September 2009) but he suggested a later date. I have no problem with that.

On the issue of the Land bill we had to launch our own counter-campaign of sensitization and forming the bibanja associations.
These associations have empowered and emboldened the bibanja-owners. Now that the bibanja members are empowered, some of them have started taking the law into their own hands, if we take the recent examples of lynching landlords in some areas of Kayunga.

I blame Mengo and also the opportunists among us who delayed the land bill and created this vacuum. I also got information that Mengo elements got foreign funds to further their aims of fighting the NRM and undermining the Constitution. We are following these reports very closely and we shall defeat all those elements involved. I encourage my friend His Highness Kabaka Mutebi to distance himself from the Judases. The NRM fought many battles; we shall win this one also.

The conditions for the Kayunga meetings are that:
1.Rt. Hon. Kevejinja and Mengo’s representatives together with their Katikkiro should meet with the representatives of the Banyala cultural groups as well as the Kayunga political and administrative leaders to agree on the way forward.

2.CBS stops forthwith their campaign against NRM, including what they have been doing recently, inciting the public to storm the Police who are peacefully carrying out their duties.

If the above conditions are fulfilled, the meeting will take place; if they are not, it will not. Besides I am looking forward to meeting His Highness the Kabaka soon to resolve all the outstanding issues. In my talk with the Kabaka last night, he referred to the difference between political and cultural matters. That is a good point. That is what we have been telling Mengo all along. Then, in that case we should not discuss with the Katikkiro because he is not political; instead we should discuss with the hundreds of the elected leaders in Buganda: MPs, LCV-Chairmen, LCIII-Chairmen, etc. Anyway, I will discuss all this with His Highness the Kabaka, when we meet soon, now that he has answered my telephones after two years.
There is more I would like to say about this. However, let me reserve it for another time. There are a number of issues on which we had agreed with Mengo on which they made about-turn and start misinforming the public. These include the Regional tier, the status of Kampala, etc.

Mengo’s Radio CBS also coordinated a boycott campaign recently. This is bad politics and practices and should stop henceforth. I rarely speak publicly about such issues. My method of work is to work confidentially with the kings or other stakeholders. However, in the case of Buganda, Kabaka Mutebi has denied me this quiet method; hence, the escalation of essentially simple issues.

On the specific issues of Buruuli and the Banyala (Kayunga), the applicable Constitutional provisions are articles 37 and Article 246 already quoted above.

In terms of implementation, we normally insist on District Council Resolutions to find out if the community wishes to have a cultural leader; this is in conformity with Article 246. Both Nakasongola and Kayunga passed the respective Resolutions to that effect.

This is the method we used every where, including Buganda. In Ankole, where District Councils did not pass the requisite Resolutions, we did not allow the cultural leaders to be installed. Can more than one cultural leader exist in one kingdom? Yes, because that is what the Constitution says. They need to work out their relationship. This is what we have been telling Mengo to do in respect of Buruuli and Kayunga. In any case, this is not new. The Kamuswaga of Kooki, even under the British, co-existed with the Kabaka. In Busoga there are 11 hereditary chiefs in addition to the Kyabazinga.

The bad behaviour of Mengo is being copied by other Kingdoms. Recently, in Bunyoro, there were elements calling for terrorism against Bafuruki, etc. We had to act against them. Therefore, Mengo’s impunity must stop.

I appeal to His Highness the Kabaka to prevail on his groups and stop keeping Uganda permanently on tenterhooks (kubunkeke). We need total calmness to consolidate the gains of the people. If there is anything unresolved it should be discussed quietly, not on the Radios. Decisive action will be taken on any media house that continues the practice of incitement.

I would like to conclude by condemning the criminals, hired by Mengo, that caused damage in Kampala and the suburbs. Initially, the Police acted slowly. Now, however, the Police has been re-enforced by elements of the UPDF. All areas where the hooligans are will be covered and, stern action will be taken against them according to the Police procedures. Looters will be shot on sight as will those who attack other civilians. Those who threaten the lives of security personnel will be dealt with according to the standing procedure of the Police. Shop-owners and everybody should continue with their daily activities. The security forces will protect them. The ring leaders are being hunted for (rounded off) and some have been arrested.

I extend my condolences to the families who lost their loved ones.

I thank all of you for listening to me.

We won’t tolerate Mengo’s unconstitutional behaviour

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