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COVER: Buganda land wrangles

 

Kabaka Mutebi and President Museveni

Next fight between Kabaka, Museveni?

Did President Yoweri Museveni recently summon Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II to a hurried meeting over the rampant land evictions in Buganda?  Possibly he did or possibly he did not. What is known is that a meeting took place between them on April 07.

That is the same day officials of the Buganda Land Board, which is alleged to be behind spiraling land evictions, razed property belonging to renowned musician Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine.

Now word on the street is that the attack on Bobi Wine’s property which was screened on TV and streamed online by Bobi Wine fans (he has over 400,000 followers on Facebook), led Museveni to summon the Kabaka to discuss that and other issues on land in Buganda.  Issues reportedly included the land cases the Kabaka is battling in court, including one by his relatives; the balangira and bambejja (princes and princesses) descended from the late Kabaka Daudi Chwa II and the Kabaka’s move to offer 49 year leases to tenants on his vast land holdings.

Museveni was reportedly not happy about the way BLB was selling land to people without putting into consideration the bibanja settlers and the fees ranging between Shs100,000 and  Shs600,000 that the Kabaka’s government was charging bibanja holders who are bonafide occupants under customary tenure. It will be recalled that when Museveni was handing over 80 land titles to Mengo officials, he cautioned them about reports he was getting that they were evicting ‘my people’ from their land. It appears Museveni has now found a slot to take a populist stance on the side of the bibanja peasants against the Kabaka and his chiefs. Sources privy to the meeting at State House confirm some of these issues.

The Independent has also confirmed that the government is in the final stages of reacting to some of them. The Minister of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development, Betty Amongi told The Independent in an interview that she has prepared a Cabinet Paper to guide the government’s discussion and eventual position on the issues.

Many observers pointed at the stiff body language between Museveni and the Kabaka and the secrecy surrounding what was discussed to speculate on hardening positions. It could have been coincidental, but many observers dwelt on how Museveni was clad in full military attire for the meeting. Museveni, it is said, often reverts to military dress whenever he is in combative mood.  After the meeting, a terse written statement to journalists from the President’s residence, State House, in Entebbe said rather simply that “they discussed pertinent issues on development and national interest.”

Later, Museveni’s Facebook page uploaded four pictures of the meeting with the words: “I thank the Kabaka and Katikkiro Mayiga for coming to meet me.” It also did not give any hint or details about the meeting.

When the kingdom prime minister, Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga, who accompanied the Kabaka together with the king’s brother; Prince David Wassajja, was asked by journalists about details of the meeting, he said the two had met for “a casual discussion and a normal cup of tea”. This set off another flurry of speculation on social media what the two were discussing.

President Museveni and the Kabaka are not known to enjoy any cup of tea together. Before the recent meeting, the last time met was eight years back in 2009 after the so-called “Buganda riots” that erupted after Museveni blocked the Kabaka from visiting one of his territories – Bugerere.

Rising tension

Whatever the case, observers say, the rising land evictions and other maneuvers regarding land in Buganda, orchestrated mainly by BLD, represent a major political powder keg that both Museveni and the Kabaka need to keep their eyes on and cool down.

Take the Bobi Wine case. It is eye-catching because it involves popular musician and celebrity and also because the disputed land reportedly belongs to Kabaka’s Treasury (Nkuluze) ,

In the tangled land management maze in the Buganda kingdom, the Nkuluze is supposed to manage Kabaka’s personal land, including land he inherited well as that he bought, outside of land managed by BLB.

A spokesperson for the kingdom said land which is referred to as “Kabaka’s land” in fact comes in three shapes; it includes Kabaka’s private land which is under Nkuluze, another over 1,000 square miles controlled by BLB which include the 350 square miles allotted to the office of the Kabaka in the 1900 agreement, to the offices of Katikkiro, Mother Queen (Namasole), Treasurer (Omuwanika), and it also includes the land where Buganda county and sub county headquarters used to be.

Bobi Wine’s case is also eye-catching because, until now, he has been considered a favourite in the Kabaka’s court at Mengo and coincidentally calls himself Omubanda wa  Kabaka  (loosely translated to mean “Kabaka’s bad boy”. But as bulldozers razed his property, a crestfallen Bobi Wine was shown complaining of mistreatment by “an institution I feel I have worked hard for”.

A Minister for Information in the Kabaka’s government, Noah Kiyimba, later rubbed salt into the wounds when he told journalists that they had sought discussions over the disputed land with Bobi Wine for over six years; from 2011 to 2017 but he had failed to cooperate.

“It is, therefore, surprising that Bobi Wine is now using the media to put the good name of the Kingdom in disrepute when it is him who occupied the land illegally and forcefully,” Kiyimba said.

Bobi Wine, however, says he bought the land from the same kingdom officials.

“Apart from the main venue of One Love Beach by the lakeside that we had acquired and developed into a beach for more than a decade now in 2010, I bought another  piece of land which I paid for fully and developed into a modern parking which we have been using ever since,” Bobi Wine said in a statement.

This case is big because Bobi Wine has over 400,000 followers on Facebook and many of the have since been pouring unprecedented vitriol against the kingdom.

6 comments

  1. Pse leave Kabaka’s land to Kabaka. His lineage is a biological entitlement and totally has northing to do with his subjects or employees/servants or friends or masqueraders save for individuals he so elects to benefit from his land in gift or business transactions.

  2. Thanks for the story that sow a lot of authoritative move by the Kingdom who should have use a wind wind move and must a swell adhere to the national constitution . PAUL

  3. The issue of the Kabaka being entitled to those 350 square miles (and the other lands he did not buy but claims) is as contentious as is the Nile Treaty that awarded the right of use of the Nile waters to Egypt. Just like the Nile Treaty dis-empowererd (in political jargon “dis-enfranchised”) the Nile basin countries from using the Nile for irrigation, the 1900 Buganda Agreement also does the same to people in Buganda. There could have been reasons for the Colonialists to think my great great grandfather did not warrant the use of the Nile waters at that time, but the case with the Buganda Agreement that allotted so much land to one person was a bribe for the Kabaka to allow them colonialists plunder our forests of timber and entrench themselves in our country for servitude. The Kabaka has no right to continue claiming that so-and-so many square miles are his just like the Egyptians have no right to prohibit us from using the Nile waters for our survival. Look at the drought that just occurred in Uganda, would Uganda really have been in such a situation if it were Israel? No way, they would have made the British and their blue-eyed boys the Egyptians go to hell! We Ugandans are tired of these inequities that were brought upon us by colonialists, some of whose interests were just slave trade. It is high time the British came to answer some hard questions. Why did they not give my grandfather so many miles as well, or allowed him to use the Nile? These are questions which politicians should force the British to answer now! Were we not considered to be people? did they think we were baboons not to aspire for equity and development? I believe that the Kabaka might have bought some land, that he is entitled to call his, but the one of the 1900 agreement we should give him only three (3) square miles (I feel this is fair equity) and the rest goes to Baganda! As for the Nile, let the Egyptians go hang, if not let the British give them the Thames River, for all they care!

  4. Should Buganda still be grateful to President Museveni? In other words, is President Museveni the grantor of Buganda’s eminence in the Uganda history? Is the Bunganda Kingdom being rightly condemned for the land woes? Why is “Uganda” not “Unkore”, or “Usoga”, or “Ucholi”, or “Unyoro”, or “Uteso?” We can be better answered, if we are served with the right history. Why am I bringing in other regions of the country in a problem that seems to be essentially Buganda’s? The reason couldn’t be more clearer than an “isolationistic policy” being played out against Buganda. Buganda is being portrayed as: “selfish”, “greedy”, “backward”, “eccentric” and “chauvinistic” by people who do not share our views and history. But is this the case? I see it differently, in Mukono district there is a place called “Kisoga” signifying that majority of the inhabitants are “Soga.” In Wakiso district, along the Entebbe road there is a place called “Kitoro.” On Mawanda road, there is a place called “Kifumbira.” In the centre of Kampala there is a place called “Arua park.” Buganda has married and married off its sisters to men who are not necessarily of their kin, including to two former Presidents (Miria Obote and Sarah Amin). We are by form and substance, “Nationalistic.” However, the demand of our “Independence” seems to invoke this void that we are eccentric people. But what does history say? Buganda has demanded unequivocally for an independence status since the times of Ssekabaka Mwanga the more reason Buganda was not declared a colonial territory but rather “a protectorate” in 1894. One will want to recall that due to the agitation of an independent status, Mwanga was desposed in 1897. By 1900, when “Buganda” “signed” the “agreement”, Buganda was under “occupation” and “ruled” by a 3year old “King.” Buganda’s adversaries have used the “contents” within the “Buganda Agreement” to discredit Buganda’s values. They taken on every chance to put a “stain” on every one claiming to be a Muganda. But the 1900 “Buganda Agreement” was not done in the true spirit of Buganda. It was a “Colonial order” instructing on the way business was to be done going forward. The order created a new class of “Chiefs” who were meant to form a new centre for power contrary to that of the King. Consequently, after the Buganda Agreement, similar agreement were signed by other kingdoms and by 1902, we had the “first ordinance in council.” This among other things, laid down the legislative framework on which “Uganda” was to function. So, if Buganda is accused of signing the 1900 agreement, why aren’t similar accusations labelled against those Kingdoms that also signed?
    The issue of “Ekyapa mu ngalo” is a “negotiation” out of a predicament and goes a long way with the current economic dynamism. The 1900 agreement defined the land tenure system that we are currently following. It created “mailo land” and “Crown land.” The spirit that formed the “Uganda land commission” is the same spirit that formed the “Buganda land board.” Mailo land created “landlords” by implication it also created the” landless.” The “Busulu and Envujjo” law of 1928 was to mollify this situation. The creation of “Bibanja” meant that people who didn’t own land could utilise it for commercial benefit if only they could pay a tax but could not own the land. With the growing commercialisation of land this gone on to create more conflicts on land. Two people could express different commercial interests and neither is to carry out one. For instance, Mengo could want to sell land it owns but on that piece of land there is a “Kibanja holder” who would have wished to build rentals. Mengo cannot sell its land because of a “Kibanja holder”, the Kibanja holder cannot construct his rentals because he does not have a land title. It is a stalemate. What Mengo is doing is to “make sense” out of “Bibanja holdings.” That someone can pay certain amount of money to obtain a “lease title.” And with a lease title someone can “own” land for a specified period of time. In another country or in certain regions of this country, government(s) has/have gone on to “compensate” landlords in order to settle the landless in what is normally termed as “redistribution of wealth. Have you heard about the “Sheema Cooperative Ranching Society?” It is an interesting case study.

  5. This failing magazine is now using the Kabaka on its cover to sell more copies

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