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Buganda Kingdom seeks UGX 5Bn payment for alleged injurious publication

FILE PHOTO: Buganda Kingdom palace

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Buganda Kingdom is seeking a payment of five billion Shillings from Monitor publications over a story indicating that the Kingdom had failed to account for USD 250,000 (934 million Shillings) received as a grant from the United States Embassy in Kampala.

The Kingdom’s Attorney General Christopher Bwanika says that Buganda needs to be recompensed for the publication of a false article which caused enormous reputational damage to the Mengo establishment.

The contentious article published on Monday, April 20, indicated that Buganda Kingdom had failed to account for USD 250,000 meant for setting up an information board at Kasubi Royal Tombs, the burial grounds of Sekabaka Walugembe Muteesa I, Danieli Mwanga II, Daudi Chwa II and Sir Edward Muteesa II.

The information board according to an agreement signed on September 29, 2014 between the then Deputy Kingdom Premier Ssemambo Ssekimpi and the Embassy was one of the initiatives considered in the reconstruction of the UNESCO heritage site which had been destroyed by a fire in 2010. The article said that the money was later recalled by the Embassy after Buganda Kingdom failed to provide accountability for it.

But the Kingdom’s information Minister Noah Kiyimba said that the publication was full of falsehoods. Kiyimba said in a statement that the Kingdom has never received a grant of USD 250,000 as reported.  Instead, the US Embassy in Kampala awarded the Kingdom a grant of USD 5,000 (14.935 million Shillings) to set up an information board at the Kasubi Royal Tombs.

However, Kiyimba adds it was not possible for the Kingdom to utilize the money within a specific period as the Embassy required because the site was still under construction. Kiyimba added that the grant of USD 5000 was refunded on January 12, 2017 and that the Kingdom does not owe any money to the US Embassy in Kampala.

The US Embassy Spokesperson Phil Dimon confirms that Buganda Kingdom could not utilize the financial assistance for a cultural preservation project at the Kasubi tombs 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 Buganda Kingdom as well as other Kingdoms in Uganda and other cultural institutions on projects in future,” Phil Dimon adds.

It’s on the basis of this that Bwanika is demanding for damages for libel, a prominent public apology and withdrawal of the article. “The article is blatantly false, twisted and wholly malicious and is intended to portray the Kingdom of Buganda in negative light and present its leadership as dishonest,” Bwanika says.

“In its ordinary and natural meaning, the article portrays the Kingdom and its officials as thieves, criminals, unscrupulous and dishonest people who are unfit to be in leadership or not deserve to be trusted by the US Government or another person or entity,” Bwanika states they are seeking an apology to the Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, the Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga, Buganda Cabinet officials and the people of Buganda, within five days from April 22, when the request was received.

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