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COVER STORY: Will Kabaka fire Mayiga?

ANALYSIS: Anger, anxiety, unease over Buganda monarch’s fights over land

Kampala, Uganda| Andrew S. Kaggwa | Buganda kingdom Prime Minister, Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga could be punished with a sacking over court cases over land involving his boss, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Muwenda II. At least that is what some of his critics are hoping will be the fall-out of the unprecedented cases in which Kabaka Mutebi is being sued by his subjects and the kingdom’s flagship land project; the Ekyapa Mu Ngalo, has upset his  subjects. Although the cases are causing unease and anxiety, it could get worse as The Independent has been told that the current wrangles are a “tip of the iceberg’.

Highly placed sources in the Buganda monarchy say the plan of the Kabaka’s tormentors is to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding the wealth of the monarch and that of his acolytes and how it has been acquired using myriad private companies masquerading as kingdom investments in which all Baganda have a shared interest. The Kabaka’s opponents hope to gain politically, expose the monarch as self-seeking, and whittle its popularity.

The Chairman of the Buganda Parliamentary caucus, Johnson Muyanja Ssenyonga (Mukono South) told The Independent that, as Buganda parliamentarians, they will be tabling the issue in their caucus and want the issues settled out of court.

“We shall try to approach all parties and see if these issues can be settled out of court but the complication with settling out of court is that the parties must agree,” Muyanja said on phone.

There is talk that the cases could drive a wedge between the Kabaka and his Prime Minister, Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga, who is being blamed for their escalation because “he is an arrogant man”.

One elderly Muganda politician told The Independent that Buganda has institutions like the Lukiiko (Buganda Parliament), clan elders (bataka) or even the royal clan under their head the Ssaabalangira which could solve these land issues without the Kabaka being dragged to court. He said Mayiga has usurped the powers of most cultural institutions leaving no room for the settlement.

“Katikkiro Mayiga has a `I know it all’ attitude and he does not take advice from other people and has taken over the power of other cultural institutions,” he said.

He sought to water-down Mayiga’s talk of “obwerufu’’ (transparency) and cited a case in which the abataka (clan leaders) demanded to get details of the land titles that Museveni returned to Mengo in April but Mayiga is keeping secret.

In a related case, a combination of conflict over land and Mayiga’s alleged arrogance is being cited in another rift between Mengo and the Kamuswaga of Kooki, head of one of the most prominent counties of Buganda.

According to Stanley Ndawula, the spokesperson for the Obwakamuswaga, when Museveni handed over more than 80 land titles to Mayiga on behalf of the Kabaka in April, 13 of the titles were to land under Kamuswaga. But, Ndawula said, despite demands that Mengo hands over the 13 land titles, Mengo has refused. When asked if this could also lead to another court battle, Ndawula refused to confirm it. He also disputed rumours that Kooki plans to split from Buganda. The land dispute is the latest in bad-blood between Mengo and the Kamuswaga.

Kooki County, which occupies what is officially Rakai district, is one of the 18 masaza (counties) which make up Buganda. It was part of the Bunyoro kingdom and chose to join Buganda under a special status about 120 years ago after one of its chiefs was killed by an Omukama of Bunyoro. In return, the Kamuswaga who is the titular leader of Kooki was offered a special status, including having a special seat or throne in the Lukiiko. But Mayiga threw it out leading the reigning Kamuswaga, Apollo Kabumbuli, to boycott Lukiiko meetings. According to Ndawula, Mayiga’s actions belittled the Kamuswaga.

“Mayiga ordered for the Kamuswaga’s special seat to be removed saying there can’t be two thrones in the Lukiiko. He said if Kamuswaga doesn’t want to sit like other Lukiiko members he can stay away,” Ndawula said.

3 comments

  1. “Buganda Kingdom Prime Minister, Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga could be punished with a sacking over court cases over land involving his boss, the Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi 11.” I do not know whether “The Independent” is facing “desperate times”, but there is “unity to desperate events” in this story. There is an “imaginary connexion” between the position of the Katikkiro and that of the emerging court cases that cannot be substantiated with facts. I would like to dispel any false hope from that of this writer to any of the anxious reader, that the Kabaka of Buganda can’t and will not “punish” or “sack” the Katikkiro of Buganda over court cases that are not of his natural or professional cause. These are machinations and in furtherance of the hate campaign against the Great Kingdom of Buganda by ignoramuses. The idea is that, any deterrence in the progression of the Kingdom will somehow ignite their rather whittling political hopes. I will, for instances of clarity, take a long look at history for a rather logical conclusion from the reader. I will look at the circum-stances of the pre-colonial Buganda to the independence. In particular, the 1900 Buganda Agree-ment and the 1961 Buganda Agreement in accordance to the draft of the 1962 Independence Con-stitution, the 1995 Constitution and the “Ramifications of ‘E’ kyapa mu ngalo.”
    At the advent of colonialism, Buganda had a feudalistic arrangement on land. The Kingdom was arranged through a clustered clan system- at the lowest level was the family (Amaka). Since Buganda is a patriarchal society, the family was headed by a man (father). From the ‘Amaka’ next came in the ‘Olunyiriri’ ( these could be two or more closely related families), in next came ‘Omutuba’ (a larger union of close families), then, ‘Esiga’ (a large union of loosely related families) and then came in ‘Omutakka’ (Clan Head) and lastly, the ‘Ssaabatakka’ (the Kabaka). At a close look of this hierarchical ladder, there is a “relative linkage” between every Muganda and the Kabaka. The Buganda clan- family system creates a strong social bondage between every Muganda and the Kabaka. But for purposes of this comment, I will restrict this discussion to issues regarding land. By his very title “Ssaabatakka”, all land belonged to the Kabaka but to an extent this was only in title (by name). It is true that the Kabaka owned huge chunks of land and he could allocate it according to his wishes but it is also true that every family in Buganda owned a home (Amaka). A man in Buganda held his family on a piece of land (ttaka) whereupon they could cultivate, parcel it out to his grown up children and pass on “ownership” upon his death. This system of “Amaka” is what led to the Buganda social system that starts with “Amaka” and ends with a “Ssaabatakka” (Kabaka) – it is a “bottom – up” social order. How did Buganda relate to the outside world? Buganda had an aggressive expansionist policy mostly at the detriment of its neighbours. The lands and peoples that were annexed, were normally “co-opted” into the social standing order of the clan system. This fact of life makes Buganda not just a single tribe but rather a nation.
    Buganda was declared a “British Protectorate” in 1893. It is only ironical that the “protectors” de-posed Kabaka Mwanga only four years later in 1897. In 1900 the colonialists made their intentions very clear under the 1900 Buganda Agreement. They entered into an “agreement” with an infant “King” of three years. The opponents of Buganda’s aspiration pounce on this infamous event like the proverbial vultures. They so much accuse of the Kingdom for having entered an unfair “agreement” and conspicuously “absolve” the mastermind. Incredible. In 1904 the colonialists introduced the cash economy by introducing two cash crops, that is- Cotton and coffee. The emergency of a cash economy brought in a capitalistic element of “individualism.” The “strong” landlords would coerce people to work in their gardens for profit maximisation. Similarly, the “lazy” landlords could give away their lands at a fee for others to till but not to own. These two compelling forces of a strong landlord wanting “more” and a lazy landlord getting “something”, led to what we now know as ‘Kibanja’ (singularity) or ‘Bibanja’ (plurality). For easy reference, let me dwell upon what transpired in the 1900 Agreement. Sir Harry Johnston, represented Her Majesty’s government as Special Commissioner in Uganda and the Kabaka was represented by regents (Stanislus Mugwanya, Zakaria Kisingiri and Apollo Kaggwa, and Chiefs of Buganda. By the stroke of a pen Her Majesty’s Government (Protectorate) acquired one-half of all the land in Buganda (10,550 sq. Miles and came to be known as ‘Crown land’). The other category was ‘Mailo’ it had two sub divisions. It stated of an “Official Mailo.” These were grants of land attached to specific offices in the Buganda Local Government. They could neither be sub-divided or sold and instead passed intact from the original land holder to his successor. This includes the famous 350sq miles of the Kabaka. This is land that was given to Daudi Chwa who passed it to Edward Mutesa who passed it on to Ronald Mutebi and who will pass it on to his official successor. The other sub category was “Private Mailo.” In these estates, some 1000 chiefs and private land owners were allocated 8,000 square miles of land. The Private Mailo land owner held rights in his land akin to those of a free hold. He was free to sell all or part of his holding and to pass it to his successors either under customary inheritance procedures or through a will. It should be noted that this agreement was originally called ‘The 1900 Uganda Agreement’ but it was later renamed ‘The 1900 Buganda Agreement’ simply because all matters pertaining therein, concerned a particular region called Buganda. The “Agreement” did not only delimit the powers of the Kabaka but it fundamentally delineated the social relations of the people of Buganda. Kabaka’s word on land was no longer final. He was now being restricted to 350sq miles of which he only held in trust. The Omutaka (clan head) could sell or give away his clans mates’ land at his own pleasure. The socio-political and economic functioning and outlook of Buganda had completely changed. The customary ownership of land in Buganda had been greatly eroded. It was now everyman for himself. At this point, let us remember four things: 1) Buganda had lost one-half of its land to the Protectorate government (under crown land). 2) The Kabaka was now limited to 350sq miles and if he needed more, it meant that he had to buy it. 3) That the livelihood of the Baganda now depended on the mercy of the “client-chiefs.” and 4) With the introduction of the cash economy the customary land tenure system was interrupted and by implication brought about two classes of people- the landlords and the landless. To argue, as to what might have brought us thus far, may not be a matter of fact but one of analysis.
    With the acrimonious environment of the Bibanja (leasehold), the colonial government came up with the Envujjo & Busuulu law (1928). It was enacted as a result of complaints from tenants over the land lord’s increase in the rate of busuulu and envujjo (rent) payable. Under this law, the rates were standardised and restricted and the peasants could not be forced off their bibanja without an order of Court. Fast forward. In October, 1961, one year before the attainment of the Uganda independence, there was an agreement between Her Majesty’s Government and the Buganda Government. It decided to recommend among other things that the new constitution should be established for Uganda under which Uganda would enjoy internal self- government and “Buganda would be united with the rest of Uganda in a federal relationship.” It is noteworthy that Buganda had refused to join the Lancaster Conference unless it was granted a federal status. This was being helped by the fact that Her Majesty’s Government was to grant Uganda “Independence” only if all the concerned parties were on the table. This is how the UPC and Dr. Milton Obote became the first government and Executive Prime Minister respectively. The 1961 Agreement went further and spelled out the relationship between Crown land in Buganda and Public land of the Kabaka’s Government. In Clause 19 – (1) said in part: “The freehold of Crown land in Buganda occupied by the Uganda Government for its own purposes shall be vested in a Commission for public land (hereinafter called “the Uganda Land Commission”), which shall hold land on behalf of the Uganda government for the benefit of all people of Uganda (including the people of Buganda). Clause 19 – (3), stated: “There shall be a land Board for Buganda (hereinafter referred to as “Buganda Land Board”), in which shall be vested all public land of the Kabaka’s Government; the Board shall hold such land in the name of the Kabaka on behalf of and for the benefit of the people of Buganda.” This among other provisions of the Agreement are the factors that assured Buganda’s participation at the Lancaster Conference. It is absurd that Buganda was “cheated out” of the Uganda Independence arrangement. Four years into “self governance”, then Prime Minister, Obote ousted the President. He later abolished Buganda Kingdom alongside other Kingdoms through the Pigeon-hole constitution that was later to become the “Republic Constitution (1967). In 1993, under the “THE TRADITIONAL RULERS- RESTITUTION OF ASSETS AND PROPERTIES ACT (Chapter 247), the NRM Government promised to return all assets that had been confiscated by previous governments. In many aspects, this was another “Buganda Agreement” with a more less “Protectorate government.” It is widely believed that by this gesture of “returning Buganda’s assets”, the NRM government was simply fulfilling its “bush promise” of the “federo” type of governance. If this were the case, then the NRM government couldn’t be further from the truth. Under the “federo” arrangement, Buganda is not only clamouring for “land titles”, it is agitating for a semi- autonomous rule under the Kabaka with a defined territorial sphere, judicial, legislative and Budgetary powers. A similar arrangement as arrived at the Lancaster Conference.

    Under the 1995 Constitution, (Article 234), spells out four types of land ownership in Uganda. Clause 2(b) is about Mailo land and it states: “Mailo;This was created by the 1900 Buganda Agreement. It is owning of land formerly given to the Buganda chiefs in and outside Buganda. It is similar to freehold tenure except that tenants on mailo land have security of tenure.” It talks of tenants on Mailo land should possess security of tenure. Implying that there should be an instrument expressing the same. Clause 2(d) is about Leasehold and it states: Leasehold; “This Is owning of an interest in land based on an agreement with the owner of the land al-lowing another person to take possession and use the land to the exclusion of any one else for a specified or limited period of time, usually five years, forty nine years or ninety nine years, on payment of money or giving service. When one dies, the successor takes over the lease.” The 1995 Constitution, under Article (246) recognises the Kabaka as an institution. Specifically Clause 3(a) states: “the institution of traditional or cultural leader shall have capacity to sue or be suedand to hold property on behalf of itself and the people concerned;” The explanation is: the Ugandan constitution recognises the Kabaka as the “custodian” of the 350sq miles. It goes on and give him execution powers and ways to execute. Ekyapa mu ngalo just fulfils this “Constitutional path.” There are tenants on Kabaka’s official Mailo land. How else would Mengo (Buganda’s seat) “ensure” their tenancy? The animosity that the Central Government expressed towards the exercise of ‘E’kyapa mu ngalo’ is either out of lack of proper information or sheer bad blood towards Mengo. But we’re a people with a common heritage and a common purpose. We shall not be derailed by opportunists, not by hate, not by intrigue or greed. We shall try to seek for love and respect from mutual friends. We shall remain true to our cultural values and heritage. We shall not weaver even when in a hole of the storm. We shall build bridges where there gaps. We shall make pathways when faced with brick walls. We shall say “yes” to the “naysayers.” We shall remain true to the “Buganda cause” and the fight starts with me. Onee can only be grateful to Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga for giving us that belief and it can’t begin with a “sacking.”

    • Wow! I ain’t a muganda but I feel the deep sense of belonging from Mr Rajab. I am certainly not competent to discuss buganda but I admire your zeal of defending what you strongly believe in. I wish we all fought for Uganda as a whole the same way.

      • If we all believe that Buganda is part of Uganda then my sense of belonging can’t be any different from yours. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.

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