Why Buganda Kingdom is a thorn in Museveni’s rule
The government’s refusal to guarantee Kabaka Ronald Mutebi’s security on his scheduled visit to Kayunga, has been interpreted as undermining the Kingdom and extracted a violent reaction from a normally pacified Ganda populace.
Unless checked, this stand-off could have genuine repercussions on voting patterns in the 2011 polls, or even on national stability.
Buganda has been a darling for as long as it was happy to take what the government gave, but Mengo’s increasingly assertive approach to Ebyaffe, has extracted an extremely violent reaction. It is hence curious to see how the grassroots populace, which had shunned violence, react in the 2001 polls.
President Yoweri Museveni’s reward for restoring the monarchy has been unfettered support from Buganda in the 1996, 2001 and 2006 polls. How he juggles his relationship with this strategic, populous and economically prosperous region is, therefore, key to his chances of retaining the presidency in 2011.
In 2006, Museveni garnered 72 per cent of the vote in rural Buganda and 52 per cent of the vote in urbanized Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono districts.
Overally, the President won 62 per cent of the (3,191,622) vote in the districts that comprise Buganda. This means that almost half (1.92million) out of the 4,109,449 votes that Museveni won in 2006 were got in Buganda.
His figures were even higher in 1996 and 2001 and his strategists would be making a catastrophic mistake if they were to promote the antagonisation of Kabaka Mutebi.
Buganda’s minister for Research David Mpanga says the Youth Day celebrations the Kabaka was supposed to attend are an apolitical function that has been affected by external pressures.
“What is happening is unfortunate because this is a Youth Day celebration aimed at rallying socio-economic development. The Kabaka was going to promote tree planting and agricultural programmes like chicken rearing which are not partisan,” he said.
He blamed the controversial Captain Baker Kimeze, for threatening violence on anyone who crosses River Ssezibwa. He also says that whereas the Kabaka has not been undermined, he has not been helped in his effort to improve his peoples’ welfare. “It certainly doesn’t help if new chiefdoms are created,” he said.
Presidential spokesman Tamale Mirundi says the Kabaka was stopped due to security concerns. “This is a matter which the Mengo government can solve with the central government but people are
playing politics. These people have monthly meetings with the President and these issues can be sorted out,” he said.
However, Buganda kingdom deputy spokesman, Mr Medard Ssegona said government’s reaction was ‘crude and illegal’. “We shall try to go with an option of civility but we shall definitely go to Kayunga,” he said.
Asked what he thinks is the reason the government does not want the Kabaka to travel to Kayunga, Ssegona said: “Because he is popular. These people do not want to see anyone rise up as long as he is not of their tribe.”
Buganda and Mr Museveni have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship for the last 28 years. Mr Museveni’s five-year guerilla war was fought in the Luweero Triangle which comprised parts of Nakaseke, Mpigi, Mukono, Wakiso and Luweero Districts, all parts of Buganda Kingdom.
Veterans of the 1981-1986 war say the Kabaka’s visits boosted Baganda fighter’s morale. Whether Federo was promised to Buganda in exchange for this unfettered support, is unclear. It is clear though that the President did not forget.
Mr Museveni’s longevity as a politician who can re-invent himself, is borne of his masterly of both military and the civic complexities of this nation. Thus, in 1993 he restored the monarchy amidst opposition from the NRA High Command.
The relationship between the Kabaka and Museveni has, however, deteriorated over the last two years over the demand for Federo and creation of chiefdoms.
Mengo ministers blame the central government for blocking the Kabaka from visiting his counties of Bulemezi which has a population of Baruuli and Bugerere where the Banyala are a minority.
The institution of Kabakaship is very close to Baganda and the riots may well have been as a result of what they regard as a slighting of their king.
The Kabaka has often reacted by sacking Mengo ministers cavorting with the opposition. His assertive approach in dealing with the central government is, therefore, a new development. Over the last month, he has repeatedly re-asserted Buganda’s demand for Federo.
The question seasoned political watchers are pondering is whether this is the end of an apolitical Kabaka.
Source: Daily Nation (Kenya)