Federo addressing imbalances

Opinion FEDERALISM August 27, 2007
Gen. Ali’s outbursts were unfortunate
S. Ssali Kiggundu

I would like to react to Lt. Gen. Moses Ali’s outbursts over Hon. Hussein Kyanjo’s statements calling upon Buganda to break away from the rest of Uganda and form an autonomous state like Eritrea did from Ethiopia, Southern Sudan, which is in the process of breaking away as an independent state etc.

Mr Ali’s outbursts were unfortunate and uncalled for because the same sentiments have previously been expressed by Gulu LC5 Chairman Norbert Mao and the late Teberio Oketch, former DP vice president.

Why didn’t he raise his concerns at that time if he is so patriotic as he is trying to portray in his attacks? Has he ever asked himself why the BAT factory was built in Kampala and not West Nile where most of the tobacco is grown or why there is no electricity in Koboko, Moyo, Yumbe and Adjuman since independence and yet he has been the 2nd Deputy Prime Minister for long?

Mr Ali should ask himself why he was promoted only upon retirement, and after being imprisoned in Luzira. Has he ever asked himself why there is a lot of development in southern Sudan after getting the semi-autonomous status from the Khartoum government?

These and many others are the imbalances, which force people to issue statements like those made by Mr Kyanjo, Mr Mao and many others. Buganda has been so much oppressed to the extent that people are not ashamed to say Kampala is not part of Buganda and yet the seat of Buganda is in Kampala.

Besides, people are taking our land uninterrupted. We have been called all sorts of names and when any one comes out to protest this mistreatment, people like Ali come up quickly to suppress the grievances.

To be sincere, Ali would have said the same words during the time the UPC government soldiers were persecuting people from West Nile region. The saying that “people don’t talk when they are eating” is so much relevant in Ali’s present thinking and those who associate with his school of thought.

Doesn’t he think if West Nile became a federal state, it could ably find solutions to all those problems listed above and foster meaningful development directly to the people of that region?
If Ali had ever thought about why regions like Busoga, Buganda, Bunyoro etc have put up their own universities when his West Nile has none, he would have been able to know why Buganda has a point in demanding a federal system of governance. Buganda will continue to suffer when we have in our midst the likes of Ali.

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Federo is to curb secessionist tendencies

LOOSE TALK Fredrick Golooba-Mutebi

Misplaced conclusions on secession
August 26 - September 1, 2007

Recently, Makindye West Member of Parliament and Jeema bigwig, Hussein Kyanjo, went public with thoughts he had kept to himself for a long time. He declared that, in his opinion, the time had come for Buganda to detach itself from Uganda and become an independent country.

As would be expected in a context where Buganda remains the bogey it became in the years leading up to independence when political parties led by non-Baganda with no agenda to sell to the public used its "arrogance" to frighten people into supporting them, Kyanjo's pronouncements set off waves of alarm and indignation.

Most alarmed were those occupying important political positions, which is not at all surprising, and those who aspire to be seen as "progressive" (that much-abused word), which is interesting.
Some members of the public, mostly Baganda, if reactions on radio and in print media are anything to go by, though, were thoroughly gratified by Hajji Kyanjo's statement. He, some claimed, had spoken out on their behalf, expressing the same ideas they had long wanted to express but lacked either the courage of their convictions, or the forum, to do so.

Those among the alarmed who are quick to look for historical parallels with whatever they see as "a crisis" started conjuring up images of impending doom. To them, Kyanjo risked sparking another "1966 Crisis".

Kintu Nyago, a self-professed Pan-Africanist (that free-for-all label), East African federalist, and National Resistance Movement spin doctor at large, weighed in with legalistic arguments.
In a New Vision article, he claimed that there was no reason why anyone would seek to champion secession in Uganda, and threatened prosecution for those daring to do so, not least because it is a treasonable offence.

In a debate on one Internet discussion forum, Bukedde journalist, Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi, volunteered to join those who might seek to crush Buganda if it ever tried to secede.

The more sophisticated opponents of Kyanjo's views chose to go "technical". First, they claimed, Buganda is too small to survive as an independent country. Second, they argued, it was "strange" that Kyanjo would agitate for secession when "everywhere" people were creating large political units.

Underlying this particular argument is the view that large political entities are necessarily more stable and better to live in than small ones. What all these people need is a good dose of history. Those who brandish the 1966 Crisis as a scare tactic each time there is an argument between Buganda or what some refer to as "the Mengo establishment" and the central government, should study the events leading up to the storming of the Lubiri in 1966.

The story is much more complex than the one they peddle; of Buganda's attempt to secede being the cause of what happened. At the very least they should read lawyer Peter Mulira's well-informed newspaper columns.

Those who believe that prosecution is the proper antidote to secessionist sentiments ought to familiarise themselves with the conduct of secessionist movements. Secessionists usually cite cultural and other injustices to justify their calls for separation, as indeed Hajji Kyanjo has attempted to do (see, for example, "Buganda is being cheated", The Weekly Observer, July 16).
One may disagree with secessionism, but that in itself should not reduce the subject to the status of a taboo. Open and honest discussion is a far better option for two reasons. It could easily expose secessionists as a bunch of rebels without a cause and undermine their chances of securing support.

Alternatively, it would allow for their grievances, if valid, to be addressed. This is a more intelligent and politically astute way of dealing with secessionists than threatening them with violence and repression. The notion that bigger is better and more stable is questioned by the number of secessionist movements, past and current, in Africa.

The vast majority are traceable to the continent's large states: Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Senegal, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and Morocco. Even Tanzania, one of Africa's historically most stable countries, must now contend with incipient secessionist sentiment arising from feelings of exclusion begot by Zanzibar's highly polarising politics.

Africa's small states have for the most part been more stable than their larger counterparts, and also largely free of secessionist movements. Well, it may just be that, with a few exceptions, when it comes to countries, smaller is safer.


The promise of a federal system

Buganda should break away

ALLOW me to comment on the current debate about Makindye West MP Hussein Kyanjo’s call for Buganda to secede from Uganda.

I think Buganda has every right to break away from the rest of Uganda if the central Government continues to ignore our demands for the restoration of a full federal system.

It was on the promise of a federal system that Buganda agreed to go ahead and form a united Uganda with other regions. Now that it is becoming obvious that the Government is not willing to restore our federo, there is no use trying to maintain this failed marriage.

Buganda was a viable independent state before the colonialists came and surely we can do just fine now.

Edward Musisi
Brussels, Belgium

Published on: Saturday, 18th August, 2007

Editorial wrong on Prof. Ali Mazrui

ACCORDING the editorial in last week’s Sunday Vision, Prof. Ali Mazrui’s remarks on Buganda’s federal for a federal status were miscalculated. In my view it is not Ali Mazrui who got it wrong, it is your editorial which got Mazrui wrong.

The province of Quebec which Mazrui mentioned as an asymmetrical example in federalism is not a new phenomenon. The asymmetrical status is commonplace in all federations worldwide.

Your editorial talked about the absence of an African example one can use to advance Buganda’s demands for a federal system of government. What about the case of Ethiopia and Eritrea? The region of Eritrea (as it was known then) started demanding for a federal asymmetrical connection with Ethiopia before Mengistu Haile Mariam came to power.

The central Government in Ethiopia was very reluctant to answer such a call. Eritrea pushed its self-determination demand through the United Nations which finally supported its independence declaration. By the time Ethiopia thought of going federal, it was too late.

The dialogue on federalism is now irrelevant. The people have talked about federalism in both the Odoki and Ssempebwa constitutional recommendations. We need a federal system to check the misuse of power at the centre. We also need power in the regions to check power at the centre and that shouldn’t be a monopoly of only Buganda. Karamoja too needs that power to protect its cattle and gold through a power base in Kotido.

John Ken Lukyamuzi

Published on: Saturday, 11th August, 2007

Is government handling the Buganda Federo question well?

CROSSFIRE: What are the views of the Government and the opposition about the topic of the week? Sunday Vision pits opposition columnist Wafula Oguttu against the Government representative, Ofwono Opondo.


KABAKA Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, while celebrating his 14th coronation anniversary on Tuesday, urged “my people,” — the Baganda — to discard old primitive relics and embrace science and modernity. Interestingly, his call came on the heels of MP Hussein Kyanjo’s (Makindye East) earlier misplaced, diversionary and escapist view that Buganda should secede from Uganda, and Prof. Ali Mazrui’s talk that Buganda be granted political federalism as a special status.

Then the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) boss Col. (rtd.) Dr. Kizza Besigye, not to be outdone, claimed that Buganda can never attain a federal status as long as the National Resistance Movement (NRM) is leading Uganda. These views are not new, except, perhaps, for the players who keep changing with time. This begs the first question whether there is such a thing as the Buganda question or is it the ever receding Mengo clique whipping up raw ethnic emotions for selfish gains? It should be pointed out that it was the so-called custodians of Buganda interests, from Ssekabaka Mutesa I, through the palace coups of Kiwewa and Kalema, who signed Buganda off to imperialism and colonialism, and therefore their descendants should not heap blame on the NRM. The Buganda kings and regents: Sir Apollo Kagwa, Stanislus Mugwanya and Zakariya Kisingiri gave out Buganda land including the much-touted 9,000 square miles to the British Crown, religious institutions and other beneficiaries.

Secondly, if a Buganda question exists how has the NRM handled it in the past and present? The Buganda question exists within the larger Ugandan context of an all-round backwardness. Therefore it must be addressed alongside other areas of the country. The NRM is the only regime since feudalism and colonialism to have handled and resolved parts of the so-called Buganda question through democratic means and that is why, despite the jitters from sections in the Mengo establishment, the NRM is socially, politically and electorally acceptable and very popular in Buganda. The Government has paid off and continues to pay colossal sums of public monies to appease Mengo, and has given prominent public jobs to the Baganda as one of the ways of settling the so-called Buganda question.

The NRM has restored all cultural institutions, even the moribund ones, wherever there was popular demand from the locals, who did not seek to impose its respect on those who disagree. In the NRM, Buganda has, not only the best partner, but also a dependable one. Mengo officials are demanding for a special status and yet refuse to be brought under public accountability.

Through the numerous democratic reforms, the NRM has restored the power of decision-making to the Parliament and local councils. It is for this reason that the NRM is firm that anybody or institution that wishes to exercise authority over public matters and resources must either be elected or at least accountable to an elected organ supervised by the Constitution.

In spite of the daily insults in the media, public debates and official meetings at Mengo, the NRM is still willing, ready and capable of meeting the claimants to the Buganda question for a negotiated solution. During the recent NRM MPs’ retreat at Kyankwanzi, President Yoweri Museveni said he would find time to meet Mengo leaders and in particular Kabaka Mutebi. In addition, Museveni is scheduled to meet political leaders from Buganda, especially those in the NRM.

The writer is the deputy spokesperson of the National Resistance Movement

Wafula Oguttu

THE demand by Baganda nationalists for a federal state for Buganda (popularly known as federo) is as old as the State of Uganda. But the federo question is not a question for Buganda only. It is for other ethnic groups as well.

Colonialism came to Uganda when many ethnic groups were in varying formative stages of nationhood. Bunyoro and Buganda were in the most advanced stages. In the quest for their interests and anxious to be the dominant power in the region, Buganda’s political class collaborated with the British colonialists to conquer the rest of Uganda. This role earned Mengo a special status, but caused suspicions, hatred and a horse-shoe unity by the people in the east, north and west against the Baganda. The Baganda had assisted the enemy in throtttling these budding nations and taken away their independence. Buganda was, however, not bothered by that. After all, they had a relatively better economy empowered by semi-slavery emigrant labour, they had the most educated Ugandans, they were dominant in the civil service and the seat of the central government was on their soil. What therefore concerned them most was consolidating these achievements into a federal status and managing most of their own affairs. The support, agreements, alliances and deals Buganda’s political class has had with successive governments since 1900 were all geared towards achieving the federal status.

Unfortunately, the trend has been that every time the same political class has always collaborated in the betrayal of the people’s cause after getting something for themselves in the government of the day. Buganda should, however, now have greater hope. History is on their side this time. It is clear the National Resistance Movement (NRM) used them and gave them byoya byasswa (empty promises). But the mistakes and bad governance of the NRM has popularised federo outside Buganda. The NRM’s entrenched corruption, nepotism and discrimination based on ethnicity or region or political affiliation have forced many Ugandans to lose the sense of self-belonging to Uganda as a nation and are now sympathetic to a federo alternative. Some frustrated and desperate political leaders have even called for secession of their deprived nationalities so as to get a piece of the national cake. They have received countrywide support. More nationalities like the Acholi, Banyoro, Iteso, Langi and Lugbara have joined Baganda and indicated clearly that they too want more independence, power and resources to run their own affairs.

More will follow even if we know that federo is not the panacea that will automatically bring good governance and improve the lives of the majority. However, none of those agitating for federo has ever put these demands on paper for consideration by all the citizens. What type of federo do they want? Instead of putting their case before Ugandans and mobilising other nationalities and other political leaders has always chosen to hold secret talks with the Government. Federo could be made an important campaign issue in the next general elections.

Federalists should therefore prepare themselves and go out to negotiate and secure written public agreements with political parties. The FDC’s door is open for negotiations. The NRM has taught Ugandans that we must remove more power and more resources from the centre, most especially from the presidency if we want equitable development for all.

The writer is the Forum for Democratic Change spokesperson

Published on: Saturday, 4th August, 2007

Asymetrical vs. symetrical federalism

Prof. Mazrui got it wrong on Buganda
Sunday Vision Editorial, 05 Aug 2007

LAST week a renowned African scholar, Prof. Ali Mazrui, suggested that Buganda be accorded a special status. He said that this would solve the friction between Buganda Kingdom and the Central Government.

According to him, Uganda should learn from Quebec Province in Canada, an example of a successful special status region within a country. Mazrui is entitled to his opinion. But he wrongly assumes that what works for Canada is applicable to Uganda, or for that matter, Africa.

He needed African examples to advance his case for Buganda. In addition, he failed to clearly demonstrate how a special status accorded to one region only would impact on the rest of the country.

In effect, Mazrui’s suggestion was simply a call for the return to the 1962 constitutional arrangement that elevated Buganda over the rest of Uganda. Buganda was like a state within a state, to the chagrin of other regions and districts.

The special status was unsustainable and partly responsible for the subsequent political upheavals the country has suffered. It would, therefore, be unwise to return to the system.

Uganda can’t go back to failed experiments but rather should use them to come up with solutions.

And indeed the regional tier system whose implementation has delayed is the answer. Instead of having one special status region, under the regional tier, districts that are willing and have distinct culture or development goals can form a regional block. This way Uganda will have more than one region with special status. It is time to implement the regional tier system.

Published on: Saturday, 4th August, 2007
The Sunday Vision editorial is actually the one that is wrong.

If only those criticizing Prof Mazrui took time to read what he said. And what did he say? That Canada has asymetrical federalism which has allowed Quebec some autonomy in certain matters such as culture and immigration. That is hardly controversial stuff in a federal system.

The editorial creates the impression that Canada has in place the equivalence of the 1962 Ugandan Constitution. Nothing could be further from the truth. Canada is a full federal state with all the provinces enjoying certain powers under their federal constitution-the BNAC of 1867. The only power Quebec enjoys is the right to pick its immigrants wishing to settle in Quebec for cultural/language reasons. But there is nothing to deter other provinces from getting similar powers. Indeed, other provinces such as Ontario-one of the richest-is asking for the same powers Quebec enjoys.

The oil rich province of Alberta too enjoys certain rights which no other province has-it has no provincial GST/sales tax for example, which is the norm in other provinces. That is federalism at its best. There is certainly nothing wrong with asymmetrical federalism within Canada or Uganda for that matter. The press should not create the impression that somehow within Canada, Quebec is the only province to enjoy federeal status. All provinces and territories do.

Moreover, many provinces - including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan -depend on the RCMP, the national police force for their policing needs, which is not the case in Ontario which has its own police force. That is the nature of federalism.

The point Professor Mzarui wanted to put acroos is that there is nothing wrong with asymmetrical federalism in Uganda. Buganda, Acholi, Busoga, Bunyoro etc can decide to ask for certian powers under the federal Constitution.

Professor Mazrui was not saying that Buganda alone should have federal status. Rather that Buganda could follow the Quebec experience of asymmetrical federalism within a federal Uganda. Members can read the differences between symetrical and aysmetterical federalism on the http://www.federo.com/ website.

The media as always is putting the cart before the horse.


The 1966 history set to repeat itself

They say history repeats itself although some critics counter argue that it's only fools who repeat history. There are latent signs which suggest that not long from now history of 1966 may repeat itself. What happened to the kingdoms at that time might replicate itself.

Grapevine has learnt that there is simmering debate in the inner circles of power on whether monarchies should continue to exist.

Following the 1966 invasion of Mengo, the seat of Buganda monarchy, the Obote government abolished kingdoms in 1967. The monarchists had asked Obote to take away his central government from the capital Kampala to outside Buganda. They even called on the Baganda for mass defiance against the Milton Obote administration.

When President Yoweri Museveni's rebels captured power in 1986, his government reinstated monarchies. After the army High Command meeting in Gulu in April 1992, it was decided that kingdoms be restored and subsequently Muwenda Mutebi was coronated on July 31, 1993 as Buganda's Kabaka. Others followed later.

Grapevine has learnt that some senior security officials are renewing the push for abolition of kingdoms because the monarchs have resumed their "stubbornness".

The move has been provoked by the Buganda's recent riots against resettlement of nomadic Balaalo herdsmen from Buliisa in Kiboga District, which is in Buganda kingdom and Mengo's persistent demand for the return of the 9,000 square miles of land which were allegedly appropriated by the colonial government. The situation has been aggravated by some voices in Buganda calling for Buganda cession.

Some top security gurus are now saying the rising Buganda nationalism will cause a national security problem and the earlier the kingdoms are abolished the better.

They say the government should abolish kingdoms and just compensate Buganda for the land the kingdom is demanding. And the Kabaka should also be compensated for any losses.

They cite the case of Ankole's Prince John Barigye who was denied being crowned as Omugabe (king) and was compensated Shs4 billion for the land the government had appropriated from his king father.

Secondly, the security chiefs are saying after all other kingdoms like Bunyoro and Toro had not been interested in restoration of monarchies but they accepted after Buganda was given, in what appeared to be NRM's appeasement policy. But the kingdoms cannot be abolished without cause. Sources say the agitators are waiting for a provocation from Mengo hardliners, to justify why monarchies should be scrapped.

An alternative plan is to try and persuade Mengo hardliners to go soft on the government or else the 1966 scenario is in the offing.

Do not fear federo, says Mazrui

News August 1, 2007

Political scientist Ali Mazrui has said Uganda should not be afraid of implementing a federal system of government “just because it is untidy”. “Uganda may still need [a constitutional order] which provides for different paths but guarantees identical citizenship rights,” Prof. Mazrui said while delivering the first Abu Mayanja Memorial Lecture in Kampala on Monday.

Mayanja, who died in 2005, was a co-founder of Uganda’s first political party – the Uganda National Congress in the 1950s. In his lecture titled “Secular Laws and Islamic Values: Abu Mayanja in Comparative Perspective”, Prof. Mazrui said the challenge for many African societies is to find a balance in their “triple heritage”.

He defined heritage as the convergence of the cultural influences of African tradition, Islamic and western cultures. In a sense, Mayanja epitomised those influences being a Muganda, a Muslim, and a western-educated lawyer.

A foundation in Mayanja’s honour was also launched at the same function. Prof. Mazrui, who teaches political science in New York, said Buganda had always struggled because it had distinct characteristics which led to violent clashes in the 1960s that led to the abolition of kingdoms by the government of Milton Obote.

“Buganda became a unique, euro-modern, multi-racial society [that was simultaneously] militantly traditional,” said Prof. Mazrui, who also is a former dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Makerere University.

He said if handled better, Buganda can still retain its uniqueness within wider Uganda. “Uganda is the only African country to abolish kingdoms only to restore them,” he said.Only last week, Mr Hussein Kyanjo, the opposition Makindye West MP, said Buganda should secede because the central government has failed to honour the kingdom’s interests such as granting it a federal status. Kingdoms were restored in the early 1990s.

The late Abu Mayanja was a Cambridge-trained lawyer who was active in national politics for decades. He served the present government in various Cabinet positions including as attorney general. Mayanja was also an active pan-Africanist, and when he was jailed for sedition in 1968, he was bailed out by an even more enthusiastic pan-Africanist – then Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere.

In the debate over the abolition of kingdoms by the Obote government in 1966, Mayanja argued that the act alone did not mean democracy in the UPC-led government. “He said you may abolish some people’s small kings and end up with a big king,” Prof. Mazrui said.