As the battle of words and wits intensifies over
Buganda's quest for federal status, the Katikkiro of Buganda Mr.
Joseph Mulwanyamuli Ssemwogerere answers common questions
Is it true that only a small Mengo clique
want federo and are forcing it on the Baganda?
Absolutely false. Justice Odoki's Commission found that 95% of the
people of Buganda wanted the federal system of government. Prof.
Ssempebwa's Commission similarly found that all districts of Buganda
wanted to be governed under a federal system of governance. Mengo is
only trying to make sure that the wishes of the overwhelming peasants
of Buganda are realised. This is what democracy means.
|Icon of the Federo cause: Katikkiro
Does Buganda want a special position for
No! Buganda wishes a federal system of government for all parts of
Uganda. We made this very clear in our recommendations to the
Ssempebwa Commission that the whole of Uganda should be governed under
a federal system, or if some areas felt they didn't want a federal
system, those areas who want a federal system should have it. This
question highlights the dilemma in which Buganda finds herself. On the
one hand, when we recommend that all of Uganda should be governed
under a federal system, which we believe to be the most effective and
appropriate system of governance, we are accused of seeking to force
our views and wishes on everyone else. If on the other hand we say,
give it those who want it and we want it, therefore give it to us, we
are accused of seeking a special position. This is why we made both
alternative recommendations, and the Ssempebwa Commission chose the
recommendation that federalism should be given to those who want it.
Is Buganda opposed to decentralisation?
We support it 100%. Contrary to popular misconception,
decentralisation, which really means delegating power to lower units,
has always existed in Uganda and in Buganda. Under the pre-1962
administrative arrangement, the Buganda government would delegate some
of its powers to ssaza (county) chiefs then to ggombolola
(sub-county), then to miluka (parish) and finally to batongole
(sub-parish). That was decentralisation. You cannot have an efficient
type of system without delegating power to lower units to do work on
your behalf. Today we believe that power and responsibilities should
be delegated to districts through the LC system. So the two systems
are not mutually exclusive or antagonistic to each other but would
work together to ensure that services are delivered to the people. The
only difference is that under a federal system of governance, you have
closer supervision of district activities and more efficient ensuring
of accountability, which is one of the reasons why the current
decentralised system is not working well.
If power and responsibilities are already
devolved on districts why do we want federalism?
Many of the districts in Uganda are so fragmented and small that they
cannot carry out meaningful development. Because each district is so
small, it cannot for example plan for the referral hospital, inter
district roads, research centres and so on. It cannot even afford to
employ experts to advise it on research, economic or social
developmental issues. On the other hand two or more districts can pool
resources and achieve what could not be achieved singly.
Secondly, as already stated the power and
responsibilities under the current decentralised system are just
delegated. This means all decisions affecting any significant
development in all parts of Uganda are made in Kampala and districts
are mere implementers of the Kampala decisions. A minister sitting in
his air-conditioned office in Kampala may not think that giving
electricity to the people of West Nile is a priority. Consequently
today in the year 2004, people of West Nile have no electricity,
meaning that they cannot have any industries in the area!
Under a federal system of governance, money would be
allocated to West Nile, who would themselves sit down and decide on
what their local priorities are. These priorities may not be obvious
to the Kampala government.
Decentralisation without federalism means taking Kampala-decided
services to the people without empowering those people to decide their
destiny on local matters, which intimately affect their lives.
Why didn't Buganda accept the Charter?
Buganda and all other parts of Uganda quickly realised that charter
arrangement as provided 1995 Constitution was a theoretical
appeasement, which was incapable of practical application. History has
proved this right. Busoga agreed to sacrifice herself by attempting in
good faith to implement the Charter. Busoga's sacrifice has
conclusively proved to the entire world that the charter arrangement
cannot, as a practical matter, work at all. It is a paper arrangement.
Is it true federalism will divide people?
This is not true. Many of the most united countries in the world are
under federal system of governance. I should also mention at this
point that the fact that I love Buganda does not mean that I do not
love Uganda. It only strengthens my love for Uganda.
One good reason for Federo is that in most areas of
Uganda, you will find that 80% or more of the people who reside in
those areas are born in that area. So there is no serious fear or
danger that those peoples cultural heritage will be submerged or
become extinct in the next few decades.
In Buganda however, a large proportion of people who
reside here are people who come from other areas of Uganda and
outside. As years pass, these will become more and more. Their
interest needs to be accommodated. But equally important is the
interest and cultural heritage of the Baganda in Buganda. If effective
steps are not taken now to protect a culture of the Baganda, as more
and more people settle in Buganda, Buganda culture may well become
extinct while the cultures of other areas of Uganda which are not
exposed to mass emigration, are preserved. Some areas of Uganda have
resorted to other and more drastic methods of ejecting non-natives
from their areas. Buganda, since its inception 700 years ago, has
always welcomed, and will continue to welcome with open arms all other
people. But it is important that this will not mean other people
overwhelming Buganda cultural heritage to the extent of making Buganda
culture and its culture institutions extinct.
President Yoweri Museveni recently told me that he
does not support any action that might lead to ethnocide. We need to
take steps now to ensure that future governance of Uganda will not
result in ethnocide of non-Baganda or culturecide of Baganda.
It is our view therefore, that a constituent
assembly which will decide on the future internal governance of
Buganda, must consist of people who know about and are committed to
the protection and preservation of our culture, as well as the culture
of non-Baganda who are residing in Buganda.
Any system of future governance, which cannot ensure
that our culture like that of other parts of Uganda will survive will
be totally unacceptable.
Is it true Buganda wants to secede?
Absolute rubbish. Our detractors will say anything to try and scare
people. How can any region realistically secede in the 21st Century?
Does Buganda have an army? Does it have access to the sea? Can it
receive international recognition? Buganda is an integral part of
Is it workable for some parts of the country to be under a
federal system of government while the rest are under unitary?
It is. A good example is again United Kingdom, whereas Scotland,
Northern Ireland and Wales largely govern themselves under devolved
powers while the rest of the United Kingdom are under a unitary
This arrangement is working so well that other parts
of the United Kingdom are going to decide later this year and early
next year whether they should not also have the devolved system of
governance. But for the time being the two systems are co existing
Is Buganda seeking federo in order to levy
Although we had initially asked for taxation powers and Prof.
Ssempebwa also recommended these, we have since resolved that all
direct taxation should be carried out by the Central Government and
not by federal states.
Are we after fat jobs?
The Ministers and Members of Lukiiko have never been paid anything at
all. Instead they contribute to the upkeep of the institution. It has
sheer sacrifice for the last 17 years. Finally I entreat all Ugandans
to be peaceful and law-abiding as we pursue our goals. Let's respect
each other's views, even if they are different from ours. Uganda is
for us all.