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.