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Buganda Kingdom dismisses fallout with US Embassy over funds

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Buganda Kingdom has dismissed reports that it failed to account for USD 250,000 provided by the United States Embassy in Kampala causing a fallout between the two institutions.

Media reports on Monday indicated that lack of accountability had forced the US Embassy to demand a refund of the money which had been contributed towards the reconstruction of Kasubi Royal Tombs, the burial grounds of Sekabaka Walugembe Muteesa I, Danieli Mwanga II, Daudi Chwa II and Sir Edward Muteesa II.

The historical site was gutted by fire in March 2010 and major restoration works commenced in 2013 after Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II appointed Charles Peter Mayiga as Kingdom Premier.

Earlier reports indicated that the money was meant for setting up an information centre at the cultural site according to an agreement signed on September 29, 2014 between the then Deputy Kingdom Premier Ssemambo Ssekimpi and the US Embassy officials. But the report added that the funds were later recalled after Buganda Kingdom failed to account for the initial release of the funds.

However, the Kingdom Minister of Information Noah Kiyimba says that the publication was full of falsehoods. Kiyimba says that the US Embassy in Kampala awarded the Kingdom a grant of USD 5,000 (14.935 million Shillings) seven years ago to set up an information board at the Kasubi Royal Tombs. However, the money was supposed to be utilized within a specific period which was not possible because the site was still under construction.

He maintains that the Kingdom does not owe any money to the US Embassy in Kampala and that the two institutions enjoy a cordial working relationship.

“In order to fulfill the terms of the grant, the Kingdom of Buganda refunded the money on January 12, 2017 and was issued with an official receipt. Some people have been feeding the media with wrong information using forged documents that the Kingdom of Buganda owes the US Embassy in Kampala a lot of money,” reads part of Kiyimba’s statement.

The US Embassy Spokesperson Phil Dimon also confirms the record from Buganda Kingdom saying that they provided financial assistance to the Kingdom several years ago for a cultural preservation project at the Kasubi tombs but this was unfortunately not used for the project by the specified project end date.

“In accordance with standard procedures, we asked for the money to be returned and Kingdom officials returned the money. The U.S government supports the preservation of cultural heritage around the world and we look forward to the opportunity to collaborate with the Buganda Kingdom as well as other Kingdoms in Uganda and other cultural institutions on projects in future,” reads a statement from Dimon.

In November 2019, Buganda Kingdom revealed that 6.064 billion Shillings had so far been spent on the restoration of Kasubi Royal Tombs.

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