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Besweri Mulondo: Buganda’s controversial prince dies, aged 90

Despite the Odoki Commission findings, President Yoweri Museveni did not want federalism. This incensed Baganda, some of whom alleged that Museveni was reneging on an earlier agreement during his negotiations with the Baganda bataka (elders) headed by Paul Kavuma, to grant federalism to Buganda. They said Museveni had also agreed with Prof. Yusuf Lule, then-chairman of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) during negotiation in July 1981 in Nairobi to form NRM/NRA. In fact, Museveni restored the Buganda Kingdom on July 31, 1993.

Some Baganda argued that Museveni did not want federalism for Buganda because under it, he would not have powers over Buganda Land; especially the 9,000 Square miles. The argued that he would also not have powers to put his people in the Buganda Government Civil Service as it would be under the Control of the Buganda Government.

According to this reasoning; Museveni’s position was entrenched by his friend and political mentor, then-leader of Tanzania, the late president Julius Nyerere, who was anti-monarchism in Africa. Nyerere reportedly advised Museveni not to grant Buganda a federal status. It was said that when Nyerere read the Odoki report in Dar-es-Salam, he was reported to have banged the table in his office and said – “Impossible, this cannot happen, Buganda cannot get a Federal Status.”

In Swahili, he said: “Hakuna Federal ya Buganda, Federal ya Buganda hawezikane, ntaenda Uganda nimuone ndugu wangu Museveni.”

In 1995, before the CA voted on the Odoki Report, President Nyerere indeed paid a one-day state visit to Uganda. He was reported to have warned President Museveni that – “Yoweri, the Baganda are very proud and very arrogant, if you dare grant them a Federal System of Government, you will never be able to control them and you will never be able to manage them.”

It is alleged that President Museveni heeded the advice of President Nyerere and did everything possible to convince Mulondo to oppose the federal for Buganda proposal.

During the debate, it was arranged in such a way that Cecilia Ogwal was the last speaker after Adoko Nekyon on the side of non-Baganda and that Besweri Mulondo, Leader of the Buganda Delegation, would speak last before voting started.

To everybody’s surprise, as soon as Hon. Cecilia Ogwal finished speaking, supporting Buganda to get a Federal System, Besweri Mulondo stood and said he could not support federal for Buganda when non-Baganda were the ones supporting it. He walked out of the CA to everybody’s terrible shock and dismay. The debate ended prematurely.

A group of angry Baganda wanted to beat him up but he was protected by the government. It was also widely rumoured in Buganda that he was heavily rewarded by Government for rejecting federalism for Buganda and he was also taken on a holiday in Europe to escape the anger of the Baganda.

Angry Baganda in his Kyankowe village in Singo attacked his home and destroyed everything. Mulondo became a hated and completely ostracised Muganda.

I could not believe that the Mulondo I knew in Kampala at the time of Independence and in Nairobi when we were in exile, and the way he used to talk in full support of Buganda and Federalism, would oppose the proposal of federalism for Buganda.

Not a prince

After the CA Debate, I telephone the late Paul Kavuma, former Katikiro of Buganda and I asked him whether Mulondo had been a `prince’ during the years 1950 to 1955, when Paul Kavuma was Katikiro of Buganda.

Paul Kavuma answered that he knew Mulondo and he knew all the Buganda Princes and Princesses but he did not remember Mulondo being a Buganda Prince.

Besweri Mulondo later on wrote a book about his life and in that book he apologized to the Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, and the Baganda for what he did. The Kabaka forgave him.

Mulondo also served Uganda in many capacities before the 1995 CA saga. At one time he was Minister of State for Lands, and later as Minister of State for Natural Resources in President Museveni’s government.

After the 1995 CA saga, President Museveni appointed him as the Chairman of the Uganda Land Commission, a post he had held in 1979 in the government of then-president Godfrey Lukwonga Binaisa. He served in that post until 2000 when he was appointed Presidential Adviser on Land matters and he has been President Museveni’s advisor on Land matters until his death.

He was laid to rest in his ancestral village, Kyankowe, Singo County, on Saturday April 9, 2016. May his Soul rest in eternal peace.

Kavuma – Kaggwa is an elder from Kyaggwe, Mukono District

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4 comments

  1. “On March 28, 1995, there was heated debate on federalism; a matter that was cherished by Mulondo’s tribesmen, the Baganda, but was anathema for the majority republicans in the CA.

    “He rejected it and Buganda lost its fight for federal status within a republican Uganda”

    The writer seems to confuse “federalism” with “Monarchism.” The following countries have federal Governments and republican constitutions:

    The United States of America, Germany, Switzerland, Nigeria, to name but a few.

    On the other hand, the United Kingdom, which is a monarchy composed of 4 nations namely England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has a unitary and not a federal Government.

  2. Francis Ssekitto Sserwadda

    Thanks for this insight.
    I am reading this in 2017 but it never gets odd.

  3. This is not a well researched article!!

  4. This article is full of falsehoods. First Mulondo never worked in Lint Marketing Board in the 1960s. He was working in Entebbe in Survey department before independence. Kavuma Kaggwa says Mulondo died a broken man, where does he get these facts! He was never a close family person I don’t even know him yet I am Mulondo’s son. Our Dad died when he was a very contented man and was not miserable at all. Research your information properly before just expressing your own personal perceptions.

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