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Regional tier: Buganda Kingdom rejected a very good system

By Vision Reporter

Added 6th December 2010 03:00 AM

MANY people in Buganda and other areas of Uganda where kingdoms exist have either been uneasy or totally ignorant about the regional tier system of government.

MANY people in Buganda and other areas of Uganda where kingdoms exist have either been uneasy or totally ignorant about the regional tier system of government.

Robert Ssebunnya

MANY people in Buganda and other areas of Uganda where kingdoms exist have either been uneasy or totally ignorant about the regional tier system of government.

Since its entrenchment in the Constitution, there has been no opportunity for those who advocated and negotiated it and those who oppose it to explain to the people its advantages and disadvantages.

Federalism is now an election issue, which has led some former Mengo politicians into striking deals with the opposition.

In this article, I will attempt to show how it all started and the key role President Museveni has played to reach the level the country is at today.

The 1995 Constitution provided for a regional government for Uganda, meaning that any district wishing to cooperate with another district or districts can form a regional government.

Chapter Sixteen of the Constitution states that a cultural leader may exist in any area of Uganda in accordance with the culture, customs and traditions, or wishes and aspirations of the people to whom it applies. The Constitution also spells out details, governing the traditional institutions, their roles, and limitations.

The re-introduction of cultural leaders followed a lot of negotiations and lobbying by several stakeholders who cherish the institution.

President Museveni and some Government officials were convinced that the re-introduction of cultural institutions was necessary for the pacification of Uganda. They also wanted to respect the wishes of those who cherished the institution.

That issue of cultural leaders was not simple at all. It required commitment, dedication and “stamina” of a leader to push through the idea, and President Museveni had those qualities.
There were formidable forces that opposed the re-introduction of traditional leaders, but Museveni managed to push the idea through in all critical organs that mattered then.

It is important to note that most ideas that are embedded in the constitution for the regional tier government were the work of two teams — one from Mengo led by former Katikkiro Joseph Ssemwogerere, now a key campaigner for opposition candidate Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye. The Government side was headed by President Museveni.

Therefore, Ssemwogerere cannot now turn around and sell to the Baganda a new concept of governance totally ignoring what he negotiated with President Museveni and later entrenched in the national Constitution.

The Constitution’s fifth schedule under Article 178 provides similar provisions like those of 1962 Constitution which was popular to Buganda. It addresses issues to do with regional assembly in this case the Buganda Parliament and provides for representatives elected on the basis of universal adult suffrage.

The teams also agreed on the position of the regional chairperson. In this case the Katikkiro and how he could be elected based on universal adult suffrage.

The teams also agreed that a regional government shall have ministers who shall be appointed by the Katikkiro through the Lukiiko and approved by the Kabaka in case of Buganda.

The Constitution also details out functions and responsibilities of the regional government and its ministers.

If Buganda had accepted the regional tier, it would be responsible for all secondary schools and tertiary institutions in Buganda except national universities.

It would also be responsible for the maintenance of roads in the kingdom, management of the regional referral hospitals and all matters connected to agriculture and forests in the kingdom.
This means that Mengo would manage all the money that is provided for in the national budget to run these sectors.

So, Mengo would have handled sh198b for development and education from 2001 to-date and sh51b for the maintenance of roads.

It is important to note that the allocations provided for in the budget include capital development, which would enable the Kabaka or the Lukiiko to carry out any development activities connected to the health sector in Buganda.
Provision in the budget dedicated to agriculture and forests in Buganda is about sh24b.
Mengo would also be responsible for water development and sanitation.
Another important factor picked from the 1962 Constitution is the provision of levy surcharge or cess, subject to approval of the Central Government through negotiations.

Mengo would also handle services that are voluntarily surrendered by a district to the regional government.
Mengo would also be required to monitor and supervise government programmes such as NAADS and Bonna Bagaggawale.

So, with the powers that Mengo could get from the regional tier, it could integrate its efforts in fighting poverty. Mengo would also handle land issues.There was a provision for the establishment of a regional land board.

The Buganda Government had to have a representative, appointed by the Kabaka, on each of the district land boards.

The Constitution also provides that where a regional government is established, the central government shall work out formulae of handling unconditional grants to the Kabaka’s Government.

Mechanisms to resort to are also provided for in case the Central Government fails to remit funds to Mengo without reasonable cause.
It is interesting to note that under the regional government, Mengo would have received sh339b to manage the responsibilities given to it by the Constitution and develop the Kabaka’s subjects.

The Constitution also provides that the regional government, in this case Buganda government, shall recognise the different cultures and establishments existing within the kingdom and that Mengo would ensure that there is equitable distribution of resources in the kingdom in accordance with an acceptable formula worked out between Mengo and the Central Government.

When former Katikkiro Ssemwogerere presented this package to the Cabinet, the Lukiiko and to Buganda, the only controversial and contentious issue was that of the election of the Katikkiro by adult suffrage which the Buganda Lukiiko, cabinet and the Kabaka agreed upon, and which the Buganda people greatly embraced.
Several reasons were advanced for the need to elect the Katikkiro through adult suffrage. One of them being the need for the accountability of the public funds that the Katikkiro would be handling.

Soon after, the provisions were included in the Constitution some people whom I termed as detractors and enemies of Mengo’s development convinced the Kabaka to reject what he had earlier accepted.

So it became difficult for Ssemwogerere to traverse the kingdom explaining the good provisions of the regional government after the Kabaka had rejected it.
This denied the Baganda an opportunity to find out about the contents, benefits and advantages of the regional government.
It is in this context that I have come out to write this article to help the Baganda understand what the NRM Government and its President offered them and what they have been rejecting since 2006.

Five years down the road and Buganda would have made tremendous strides in development. Buganda’s economic status would be different after injecting sh340b in its programmes.

It is now time to realise that engaging the kingdom in confrontation and controversies with the Central Government, or Mengo assuming the role of opposition, may not help the kingdom but will further plunge it into serious problems.

Buganda needs better roads, water and sanitation; urban and rural industrialisation; good homes and general improvement of Agriculture not controversies and confrontation. This must stop and our mind set must be re-oriented to development.

The strategy by some former Mengo officials of pinning their hopes on the opposition, thinking that Besigye is the Messiah is false, poor visibility and must be abandoned.
Besigye can now promise anything because he wants the Baganda’s votes.

However, Buganda should not forget the lies and empty promises made by Obote into hoodwinking us into the KY/UPC alliance similar to the current IPC/Suubi 2011 alliance.

The regional government has very good ideas which Buganda should accept.

Having said that, the question that lingers in my mind is; what is the way forward for Buganda? We should strive for harmony and peaceful co-existence. Besigye is not the sort of person Buganda can rely on. He could act the same way as Milton Obote did in 1966.

Thus the most credible and reliable leader who would protect the kingdom and the people of Uganda is the one who fought hard to restore the kingdoms in this country.

The author is a Senior presidential adviser on Buganda matters

Regional tier: Buganda Kingdom rejected a very good system

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