By Robert Ssebunnya
The appointment of Charles Peter Mayiga as the youngest Katikkiro of Buganda in the kingdom’s history was strategic and the appointing authority must be applauded for the right decision.
Mayiga’s appointment is significant in terms of his long term association with a crusade of establishing the new cultural establishment in the new Uganda.
He deserved the elevation for several reasons; firstly when he was at Makerere University pursuing a degree in Law, he was a key player in organising student bodies and created Nkobazambogo.
Mayiga, alongside others, also spread and created a spirit of brotherhood in supporting the Buganda cause at Makerere and other tertiary institutions throughout the country.
When he joined the Government as State Attorney, he maintained his desire to serve at that time the Ssabataka Supreme Council as executive officer.
He was, in other words, the chief executive in shaping the new cultural establishment, mobilisation of the people to support the 17–man Ssabataka Supreme Council of which I was a member. Mayiga surprised many by quitting a job that was giving him a monthly salary and other benefits and deciding to work as a volunteer.
Young as he was, making a decision of that nature was credible. Some of the Ssabataka’s Supreme Council members including the author of this article namely Owek. John Katende, former Katikkiro J.B. Walusimbi, Owek. Dan Kajumba, Owek. Late Henry Kayondo the then treasurer, resolved to contribute monthly sh20,000 each to meet the salary of Charles Peter Mayiga. He deserves this appointment and I commend the appointing authority for rewarding him for what so far he has contributed in rebuilding and reshaping the reconstruction of Buganda cultural institution under the Ssabasajja Kabaka.
Mayiga has served as minister of information, secretary to the cabinet and secretary of the Buganda parliament (Lukiiko) for which I also served as a clerk for a number of years.
Mayiga and I took over the responsibility from Prince Dan Kajumba. These posts carry a lot of responsibility and it has been a good training ground for the new Katikkiro.
Mayiga’s appointment as Katikkiro is of significant importance in that Mayiga right from inception days of thinking of re-establishing the Kingdom; he has played a role at all stages.
One day in Masaka (1991/2) a meeting was held to discuss the Buganda’s strategy in the Constitutional reform.
This meeting was attended by President Museveni, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, the then Katikkiro of Buganda, Joseph Mulwanyamuli Ssemwogerere, former Attorney General John Katende, Dan Kajumba, Peter Charles Mayiga and I. In that meeting, the youngest in attendance was Mayiga. He was given an opportunity to articulate the Buganda case and thereafter President Museveni asked who that young man was.
He had a good impression of him. Mayiga, Godfrey Lule, John Katende helped draft various Bills that were incorporated in the amendment of the 1967 Constitution leading to the handing over of certain Buganda property and enthronement of Kabaka Mutebi in 1993.
The other important factor in Mayiga’s appointment is that he was one of the four architectures of the Regional Government which was embedded in the 1995 Constitution.
The other, who is still a minister at Mengo, was the former Attorney General, Apollo Makubuya. Others are no longer at Mengo administration-- John Katende and Joseph M. Semwogerere who held the posts of Attorney General and Katikkiro respectively.
Mayiga, being a member of that team, is significant in that he is the best person to look at the constitutional provisions that can be proposed by his government to Parliament for review so that we can solve the current stalemate for Buganda and other cultural institutions to move ahead. He is the only one who can make a punch to the Constitution and bring about what is acceptable to the Buganda cause and other cultural institutions.
So, Kabaka’s appointment was a move in the right direction. Former Katikkiro J.B. Walusimbi and his predecessors must be credited for creating a good rapport that has evolved between Buganda Government and the President.
In this connection, the two leaders President Museveni and Ssabasajja Kabaka must be commended, which Mayiga’s team must always cherish, safeguard and promote. The past few years have witnessed a non-confrontational episode, creating an atmosphere of dialogue, mutual respect, reconciliation and willingness to get the job done under the mutual concept of give-and-take.
There are several challenges Mayiga will face but they are not insurmountable as they say where there is a will there is always a way. My association with the President over time has revealed to me that the kind of Museveni Buganda is dealing with, has some good virtues which can provide possibilities of success in the dialogue process.
- Ability to listen
- His infinite commitment to cultural institutions he himself worked hard to establish
- His recognition that Buganda is an integral part of Uganda and most importantly his cognance that the cultural institutions play an important role in the pacification of the nation through peace and tranquillity.
Museveni’s wish is to see these established cultural institutions succeed; those are virtues and values embedded in Museveni which must be exploited by Mayiga’s team in Mengo.
Again what has smoothened the trend of reconciliation is the involvement and serious engagement of the Buganda’s Parliamentary Caucus and the move to get the Parliament realise that the cultural institutional issues must be resolved.
Today, it is 27 years and these issues have never been resolved and each day poses new challenges and the sooner we tackle these issues once and for all the better to ensure future prosperity and development of Uganda.
The willingness on the part of President Museveni and NRM Government at least to solve the problem is an encouragement and inspiration to those engaged in the dialogue to finally and permanently find a solution to our problem so that Uganda can move ahead without some parts of it claiming their problems not having been solved amicably.
Mayiga’s second challenge is to keep a peaceful trend left by his predecessors in terms of keeping the Lukiiko focused in tackling political and economic development issues and keeping the door open for mutual dialogue and reconciliation with the cultural institution of Sabanyala and Sabaruli and Mengo.
This is an uphill task. Museveni’s interest is to create a permanent solution to these issues. We can learn positive lessons from the Kooki/Buganda agreement. Charles Peter Mayiga’s rich knowledge of the Buganda issues and his effective engagement in the architectural process makes him a key personality in the search for solutions.
The NRM and its leadership is totally committed to the implementation of the fundamental change. No doubt the re-introduction of the cultural institution in our governance structure is one of these fundamental changes, which President Museveni would wish to see realised in the shortest time possible.
I am certain Mayiga and other minds Ssabasajja has put in Mengo would not fail to capture the good and conducive environment we have, to bring about a mutual, permanent and irrevocable package with the President for the good of other cultural institutions in the country. Remember a good governance package for Buganda will automatically affect others.
Mayiga’s other critical challenge is to strive to keep Buganda one while the new leadership at Mengo embarks on possible and serious interaction with other cultural institutions to front a common stand as these institutions appear to have similar and common issues. If Mayiga’s leadership gives zero attention to these issues then the continuation of cold war between these institutions will kill the smooth development process of this institution.
The writer is a Senior Presidential adviser on Buganda matters