Muliika, MPs to discuss federo

News May 01, 2006

Muliika, MPs to discuss federo

BUGANDA kingdom has asked the newly elected members of Parliament from Buganda region to draw an alternative plan on how to achieve a genuine federal system of governance.

The Katikkiro of Buganda, Mr Daniel Muliika, on Thursday said kingdom officials would meet central region MPs on May 3 and later meet LC5, LC3 and municipality chairpersons from the central region to discuss the way forward on federo.The head of Bataka (elders) council, Mr Grace Ssemakula Ndugwa, said Mengo’s discussion with legislators would portray how transparent Buganda’s demands are to the entire country.

“We don’t need to hide our demands because they benefit everybody, if federalism is granted, every region will benefit,” Ndugwa said. Buganda Lukiiko has set guidelines for fresh federo negotiations expected to resume any time.

Muliika said Mengo would only resume talks with the government if other federal cherishing kingdoms are brought on board. He said a new federo negotiating team would be announced, given guidelines to follow and no adjustments would be made on the Katikkiro’s appointment.

“The new federo negotiations must not isolate Buganda as the only federo demanding kingdom. We must go as a team with other kingdoms because they also have similar problems,” Muliika told Mengo ministers on Tuesday.

Buganda Lukiiko, the highest body of the kingdom, in February rejected the government’s regional tier by a unanimous vote just months after Parliament passed the proposal.

The Lukiiko session demanded a federal system of governance. Former Katikkiro Joseph Ssemwogerere led the Mengo negotiation team, which sealed the regional tier deal. Mengo wants the return of 9000 milo land and recognition of Kampala as part of the Kingdom.

Form of Federal Model for East Africa

Referendum a must to decide on EA federation

During the seventh summit of the East Africa Community (EAC), the heads of State of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya said that political federation was the most urgent business for East Africa. A team has already been appointed to oversee the process of transforming EAC into one country.

Obviously, there are several prospects of regional integration. An integrated EA will have economies of scale and bigger markets. A united EA will also act as a counterweight to the external forces of globalization.

Though most East Africans seem to support the integration process, there are questions that have to be addressed now. First, what form of federal model does EAC intend to achieve? Is it the traditional form of federation as found in the US, Germany, Nigeria, Ethiopia, former USSR, former Yugoslavia or a contemporary form of confederation as the European Union?

Second, an East African political federation will need a good constitution to govern such a vast and diversified country. The constitution will have to state clearly the principles of separation of powers, checks and balances and devolution of powers to the people at the grassroots. East Africans will not accept a 'centralized' form of governance.

Third, since the political union should be in place by 2011, when will the constitution-making process for the proposed federation begin? From experience, the law review process has been complex in Kenya and Uganda. What has been put in place to ensure that a 'half-baked' constitution of EA federation is not imposed on the people?

Fourth, the EA integration process should not be left to the political and business class alone. It must be people-driven and inclusive. Although political leadership is quite imperative to the process, politicians' interests might not necessarily be in conformity with the citizens' interests.

Fifth, the debate on the EA integration process especially on political federation must be open as much as possible. The people must have the opportunity to express their views without intimidation or manipulation. Further, each Partner State must begin educating rather than 'indoctrinating' its citizens about the benefits of integration.

Seventh, the EAC should look beyond the present membership. Already Rwanda and Burundi has applied to join. Will a federation (US model) or a confederation (EU model) be more accommodating to new members? Finally, East Africans must be given a chance to approve or disapprove the formation of an East African State through a referendum.

Paul Odhiambo, Nairobi

A tip on the katikkiro issue

I hope my Baganda brothers and sisters will not object too much if I, a Munyoro from Hoima, may comment on a subject that has exercised their brains and patience for some time. Their brand new Katikkiro Daniel Muliika (a name by the way also given in Bunyoro) spares no effort to demand that the kabaka retains the sole responsibility to name his "kamala byonna".

And I fully agree with the man. The katikkiro's is a cultural office with sensitive responsibilities to the kingdom and the kabaka. It would be foolhardy to expect the Kabaka to have a politician elected by people who have no cultural attachment, let alone loyalty to the kingdom, to be his "kabaka outside the palace".

The government on the other hand says that it is committed to the advancement of democracy even at grassroots level and insists that the head of the regional tier (which of course Buganda has now repudiated) must be an elected man or woman.

This official would be responsible for money to be passed to the regions for service delivery. Those who are schooled in these matters may recall the slogan "no taxation without representation" used by pro-democracy campaigners of long ago against a prime minister appointed by the sovereign that resulted in the Westminster type of government.

One of the problems with the stand-off on this issue is that both sides are attempting to fit a square peg into a round hole. The katikkiro is cultural and cultural leaders are debarred from open involvement in politics. An election by universal suffrage is by definition involvement in open and even partisan politics - quod erat demonstrandum.

But there need not be a stand-off. I have suggested in these pages before that the kabaka should be free to appoint his katikkiro if he is so inclined. No precedents (it has happened before) should constrict him - after all in Buganda he can make and unmake things. The regional tier if re-embraced by Buganda should have its elected leader and for goodness sake that leader should not bear the title katikkiro. That way the cultural functions of Dan Muliika would be segregated from those of the tier chairman. Or am I being optimistic?

H.G.K. Nyakoojo, Hoima, and Buziga.

Rejecting regional tier will be very costly for Buganda

Tuesday, 4th April, 2006

Peter Mulira

A learned friend With a historical perspective Peter Mulira

In his recent book titled Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or to Succeed Jared Diamond lists five reasons why some societies have failed and others succeeded.

He names among this list a society’s failure to anticipate problems. By this, Diamond means that sometimes when people are faced with unfamiliar situations they fall back on drawing analogies with old familiar situations which is a good way to proceed if the new and the old situations are truly analogies, but it can be dangerous if they are superficially similar.

To illustrate his point, Diamond draws on the experience of the Vikings from Britain and Norway who immigrated to Iceland around the year AD 870 and were fooled by the tree species which were familiar to them in their countries and as such proceeded to clear the forests to create pastures for their livestock as they would do at home. Unknown to the Vikings, Iceland’s soils arose from light ash blown from volcanic explosions unlike the clay type in Britain and Norway and once exposed after the forests were cleared, the wind blew them away eroding the top soil. Iceland became uninhabitable! Like the story of Iceland, some mistakes have been made in the past in our case. Thus in 1957, the Buganda kingdom parliament, the Lukiiko, rejected political parties as well as the first direct elections to the Legco, then our parliament, which were held in 1958. This resulted in the kingdom losing its premier position in national affairs and gave birth to the Buganda-versus-the-rest axis.

By rejecting Ben Kiwanuka and his Democratic Party in 1962, Buganda again forfeited its opportunity to provide our first national leader after independence and perhaps lost that position if not forever, at least for a very long time to come. Many examples can be given of the missteps taken in the recent past but the latest one is the decision to reject the regional tier government. This decision will determine whether other compliant regions will outstrip Buganda in development as a result of the benefits accruing from self-government which ironically the kingdom has fought for for years. The proposed regional tier involves a number of elements which form the composite namely the region, the tier in the sense of the level at which sharing is done, a government, financial allocations, local power to legislate and the freedom to indulge a region’s cultural uniqueness. By rejecting the regional tier one is rejecting all these good things which, according to modern scholarship, are the engines for development. The reason given for the rejection that a regional tier is a poor replacement for federo is lame and unimaginative.

A regional tier is just a descriptive term of a level of government which can easily be replaced by such words as state, provincial or regional. But what is in a name? Between 1900 and 1937 the Buganda government was known as the “Lukiiko”. In 1937 it was named “His Highness the Kabaka’s Government” before becoming “Buganda Government” in the 1962 constitution. It is therefore sheer madness to miss out on having a government at Mengo simply because we do not like the description of it. But there is more to this. In a document entitled “Buganda’s position on the draft constitution: The views of the Buganda Lukiiko submitted to the Constitutional Review Commission as comments on the draft constitution in 1994, the Lukiiko stated: “Buganda is not bothered whether the constitution will label it a state, a province or a district. Buganda, for as long as it is recognised as one unit, call l it RC V, if you may, will go by whatever official administrative title adopted in the constitution.” If the term full federo which is preferred to regional tier by some people means the same arrangement as we had in 1962 then the claim is not correct at all for at page 72 of Buganda’s proposals to the Ssempebwa Constitutional Review Commission the return to the 1962 constitution was discounted ".......because every federal system has to be adjusted to meet the demands of the times”. Again at page 76 it is quite clear that the Lukiiko sanctioned the idea of regional government. So where are these new demands we hear about coming from?

Federalism, as opposed to unitarism in which power is centralised, provides for diffusion of state power among three layers or tiers of government namely national, regional or state and local while ensuring local autonomy for the regions to govern themselves through their different cultural and geographical characteristics. It is an abstract concept and should not be confused with the idea of autonomy which is just one of the elements of the federalism. The present constitution is federalist in nature, something the ultra-conservatives in Buganda fail to understand.

The manner in which a Katikkiro will be elected is a function of the idea of autonomy in that the national constitution has nothing to do with it. But in the modern world we live in today even this autonomy must be guided by democratic principles. We should take a leaf from the British practice where the Prime Minister is appointed by the Queen through the invitation of the leader of the majority party in parliament to form a government. This power of the Queen to appoint her prime minister is both symbolic and real in the sense that she normally respects the people’s will but does not have to.

Indeed in 1923 the king went over the head of the Conservative Party leader, Lord Curzon, and invited Mr. Stanley Baldwin to form the government. In the case of the Conservative Party the leader of the party used to evolve from consultations within the committee of 22 made up of the party bigwigs who would recommend a name to the Queen but the party has since 1964 elected its leader like other parties at its annual conferences.

A Katikkiro therefore does not have to be directly elected in order to satisfy the principles of democracy so long as he has gone through an election process of some sort. To resolve the impasse in Buganda we could have the majority party in the Lukiiko after consultations with the Kabaka’s six nominees in the Lukiiko nominating three names as candidates for the office.

Following the procedure in the 1962 constitution the Lukiiko will then elect a Katikkiro-designate who will then be appointed Katikkiro by the Kabaka by handing him the Ddamula. This will put democracy and tradition in a happy embrace. With the Lukiiko flipfloping on the issue of federo one wonders whether it is not exposing Buganda like the Vikings of Iceland.

The Kabaka should appoint a specialised committee, not from Mengo, like the Hancock committee to study the situation and make a recommendation to the Mengo government.