Inside Politics September 5, 2007
“Buganda’s quest for secession is inevitable”
ROBERT MWANJE KAMPALA
WANTS INDEPENDENCE: Former Katikkiro, Muliika
Kabaka Ronald Mutebi is the king of Buganda
MP Hussein Kyanjo resurrected the secession debate
Talk of Buganda, which occupies the central region of present day Uganda breaking away from the rest of the country, has re-surfaced over the last weeks, dividing the country over the matter.
What started like the wild ranting of a media seeking politician might yet turn out to be a well orchestrated plan of a section of Baganda seeking to recreate the old dreams of an independent state.
MP Hussein Kyanjo of Makindye West re-awakened the debate, which last seriously came up in the early years of Uganda's independence at the height of tensions between the monarchy and the central government.
Former Buganda Katikiro (Prime Minister) Daniel Muliika has in an exclusive interview with Inside Politics revealed that the calls for Buganda to break away from the rest of Uganda by MP Kyanjo represent a key section of the baganda. Mr Muliika served a dramatic one year at Mengo.
He warns of bloodshed if Buganda's demands and needs are not paid heed to, the same message carried by Kyanjo. If the central government does not change its attitude towards Buganda's demands and interests, the kingdom's plan to secede must be realised no matter how long it takes, the two men stated in separate interviews.
Muliika says Buganda does not need the central government's goodwill to carry through her plans.
But the titular head of the estimated six million Baganda, the Kabaka warned a congregation of Baganda in the Diaspora at the weekend that calls for cessation coming at this time only helps to weaken the kingdoms bid for meaningful federo.
Mr Kyanjo, who unveiled Buganda's alleged intentions to break away from Uganda, insists that the plan must mature and no authority has the powers to block it.Why break away? Kyanjo says that as an MP, the proposal to see Buganda breaking away from Uganda is his constituents' demand and places his arguments against the fact that the central government has continually failed to honour the kingdom's demands.
According to Kyanjo, these include federalism, the demand for the kingdom's property or, that government will stop the illegal and provocative giveaway of Buganda land, and an end to tribalism among others. He says all these are a well calculated plan to impoverish Baganda as a way of weakening the kingdom.
Kyanjo says he was working out a plan to extend his campaign country wide with the aim of convincing other regions to support a break away from Uganda except western Uganda.
"It cannot be a coincidence that the army chief, prisons chief, minister of defence, police head, security and internal affairs minister are all from one region (West)," Kyanjo said.
Citing examples to bring out the 'greed' inside government, Kyanjo said the current establishment has ensured that all juicy Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) contracts have been offered to people from western Uganda.
"A lot of injustice has been exhibited to the extent that even the small Chogm contracts have been offered to people from the western region. From car importation to those who will wash them during the summit," Kyanjo wondered adding that, "some thing must be done. It's unjust and must be addressed quickly."
He said government has further exhibited a lot of segregation through the education and employment sectors. Kyanjo says government has launched an economic war against baganda and other regions saying concerned authorities have not given equal opportunities to local investors basing on their regions of origin.
He said while government has exhibited a lot of tolerance and support to some companies like Apparels Tri-star (Tri-star is owned by an Asian businessman) and individuals like Hassan Basajjabalaba to the extent that state funds were diverted to rescue their private business, the same method has not applied to Baganda owned investments.
Basajjabalaba is a local investor who owns a number of shopping malls in the city center, Kampala International University (KIU), and firms that manage major city markets among other properties. He is also the chairman for NRM (the ruling party) entrepreneurship committee.
Kyanjo wonders why Greenland Bank, Zigotti Coffee Ltd, Kyagalanyi Coffee, H.M Nsamba Coffee Ltd, Ssembule Bank and group of industries, were all left to collapse and be taken over by foreigners.
"It's a good business principal for the government to support local enterprises but why does it work only for selected ones? How do you convince me that other ventures never deserved to be supported?" he queried.
"There's nothing that is as painful as being discriminated against. These are just greedy people from the top down through the markets."
Expressing a lot of dissatisfaction with the current establishment, Kyanjo warns that a revolution to redress the deserted sections must take place. "All Ugandans can't be oppressed forever. The current establishment was supported by the people of Buganda to power and a lot of promises were made, this was an agreement between the two parties," Kyanjo said, "government should remember that the Buganda institution was much involved to the extent that even the Kabaka had to join his subjects and practically participated in the war."
A map of Buganda Kingdom’s boundaries. Below is a map showing Buganda’s position in Uganda.
On accusations of inciting the public, Kyanjo said the institution has been insulted repetitively through a number of government officials.
"You can imagine a full cabinet minister telling people to get pangs and chase Baganda from a certain region and because he is a minister then he is not inciting the public," he said.
Does Kyanjo have a real strategy? Kyanjo claims that his plans detail a "very simple way" to achieve an independent state of Buganda. He claims this is so because the public is increasingly realising selfish interests as exhibited by the government. He says his campaign has been much supported by members of Buganda Region parliamentary caucus and a special committee has been set up to follow-up the matter.
"Buganda's secession is a fact which can be realised to ensure a bright future for our grand children. It does not matter how long it may take but it must happen," he said. The MP says he is aware that his intentions may mean a number of consequences including death but he is ready for everything.
"I'm ready to pay the price for what am fighting for but they (government officials) will pay much than me," Kyanjo said.
"Not mere dream" - Muliika
Mr Muliika supports Kyanjo's idea and to him Buganda does not even need the central government's goodwill to secede. Muliika lasted only 13 and a half months (Dec.28 2005 - Feb 13, 2007) as Katikkiro, an incredibly short time.
In that period, Mengo the seat of Buganda witnessed the highest level of tensions with central government unseen since the restoration of monarchies in 1993. Mr Muliika had replaced Joseph Ssemwogerere who held the reigns of power at Mengo for 11 years.
Now retired to his farm in Masaka, Muliika said the move was long over due since central government has failed to realise Buganda's position and interests in Uganda. "I support Kyanjo's stand since his demands are clear that Buganda should be left to control itself in all aspects.
Buganda is a nation which existed before Uganda and its independence was attained on October 8 1962," he said. He urged Baganda not to yield to intimidation by central government saying, "this we must achieve. We are not dreaming.
"Only that Baganda have not made-up their mind to pick guns and fight the enemy (central government). An enemy will remain an enemy and you can never solve problems through stealing," Muliika said.
He said whoever attempts to fight Buganda fights his regime, "Obote made the same mistake (fighting Buganda) and where did his regime end? The same applies to this regime, the moment it attempts the same mistake it will take the same direction."
He said Baganda and the Mengo establishment should rally behind the Kabaka to fight for the kingdom's interests, strongly back Kyanjo's concerns and draw clear avenues to realise the dream.
Muliika cautioned Baganda politicians not to be diverted over their political inclinations since Buganda's quest does not affect their political parties and system of governance."
If we have a clear system of governance through which each political party operates things would be simple. It would clearly stipulate the status of kingdoms and their stake in Uganda," he said. "Central government exists on the kingdom's expense; we can achieve it with or without government's backup. Any other objective kingdom can join us."
Debate on secession:
Rubaga North MP, Beti Olive Kamya, a member of the opposition front bench has also joined in the fray.
Kamya's views on the cessation have kicked up a storm on an internet chat of mainly Ugandans in the Diaspora. In her posting Kamya wrote; "fact is, Baganda have all sorts of grievances which have led them to wish to call it quits. Does anybody have a problem with that? If it is about property in Kampala, no one is under any threat as they will be welcome to live in Buganda, as they do in the UK, USA etc and property can be shared out as we did when the EAC collapsed. Those are details. the principal is that Buganda wants to go it alone - and there 6 M + Baganda according to the latest census and I know many very able countries, with GDP and GDP per capita many times that of Uganda, whose population is much less than 6 M.
Ms Kamya's proposals have attracted several angry responses especially from none Baganda.
Ms Pam Ankunda notes that there is no special reason that Buganda is advancing in seeking cessation, "My humble opinion though is that Buganda has no cause to secede because our interests are one. No tribe deserves privileges over the other."Officially government has remained silent about the demands but sources tell Inside Politics that a sense of discomfort over the bubbling demands is steadily growing.