HOIMA – President Museveni has accused the Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, of attempting to divide Ugandans along ethnic lines. This is the first time the President has openly accused the Kabaka of ethnic hatred – another indication of how wide the rift between his NRM government and Buganda Kingdom is growing.
Speaking during the 16th coronation anniversary celebrations of the Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom, Solomon Gafabusa Iguru, in Hoima on Friday, Museveni warned that he “will cut off” the head of any kingdom that oversteps its mandate and takes sides in partisan politics.
The President, speaking two days after two top advisors of the Kabaka, Joseph Mulwamyamuli Semwogerere and Dan Mulika, joined a coalition of opposition parties seeking to unseat him in next year’s elections, said kingdoms should stick to cultural issues and avoid politics.
“I have never baptised anyone, though I know how they baptise. I am a Christian but I do not baptise—that is not my role. We left that role to the clergy; so, cultural leaders should [also] play their roles,” he said.
“If the Kabaka thinks he can disunite our people, he is just dreaming; he should wake up; we cannot allow him even for a minute,” Museveni added.
“Kingdoms should play their roles outlined in the Constitution, Buganda inclusive. If any kingdom crosses its boundaries and interferes with my roles, I will cut off its head and there will be no case to answer,” Museveni said.
Delegations of Banyala from Bugerere and Baruli from Nakasongola clapped and cheered every time the President attacked the Buganda monarch. The Banyala and Baruli have declared autonomy from Buganda Kingdom—a move opposed by Buganda, which accuses the central government of propping up separatist groups in its territory.
The leader of the Banyala (Sabanyala), Baker Kimeze, attended the function during which he was recognised as a cultural leader by Bunyoro with rituals performed on him by Bunyoro’s chief prince, Albert Kasaija Okwir.
Buganda Kingdom, the biggest and best organised in Uganda, was not represented.
The President said the 1966 Buganda crisis was caused by the kingdom itself when the Kabaka started interfering with the role of political leaders. He warned of a similar crisis if Mengo, the seat of Buganda Kingdom, does not stick to cultural issues.
This is the first time the President has accused Buganda of causing the crisis that led to the abolition of kingdoms and forced Kabaka Edward Mutesa II, the father of reigning monarch Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, into exile. Previously, the President has accused the late former president, Apollo Milton Obote, of igniting the problem by abrogating the constitution. Analysts say the 1966 crisis is partly responsible for Uganda’s troubled history.
“It was not easy to convince my colleagues [in NRM] to have these kingdoms restored. We thought that kingdoms could work with modern governments if well handled, so they play their constitutional roles,” Museveni said.
He added that the Kabaka of Buganda has crossed his boundaries and warned that he might cause gloomy days for his kingdom.
Museveni accused Buganda, his major ally in the Luwero bush war that brought him to power in 1986, of doing nothing to develop the country but only promoting ethnic hatred.
“Mengo has used all [its] time dividing and disuniting people. What has Buganda helped Uganda [to achieve]? We shall isolate them,” Museveni warned.
The President donated Shs 200 million to Bunyoro Kingdom for the construction of a perimeter wall around the palace. He said that since the country’s revenue base had grown, he would increase funding to cultural institutions.
The government currently gives cultural leaders Shs 5 million per month. He added that he has already tabled a proposal in Cabinet, seeking to approve increased funding to cultural institutions.
But the host, Solomon Gafabusa Iguru, called for the amendment of the laws governing the sharing the revenue from the newly discovered oil to enable the hosting cultural institutions get a share.
“Article 244 of the Petroleum Bill 2010 should be amended to give us, the cultural institutions, oil share.
The bill shares oil proceeds between the central and the local government, but this should be changed,” Iguru said.
Most of the two million barrels of oil so far discovered in Uganda is to be found in Bunyoro.
According to the king, the bill provides that 85% of the oil proceeds should go to the central government and 15% to local governments, yet cultural institutions that will shoulder environmental and other burdens have been left out.
SABANYALA ON BUGANDA
During the same function, Sabanyala Captain Baker Kimeze said the Banyala have their roots in Bunyoro and not Buganda.
“Our roots are in Bunyoro and not Buganda; so, we are home,” Kimeze said.
“We are the prodigal sons of Bunyoro and not Buganda; so, we have come home,” Kimeze added.
His declaration didn’t go unrewarded, as Bunyoro Kingdom handed him a traditional robe and the head of the Babito (royal clan) in the kingdom wrapped a barkcloth around the Sabanyala, saying it is a ritual that Bunyoro performs for all kings who have ties with Bunyoro.