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Buganda denouces Museveni plans to destroy culture

By Norman S Miwambo
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Buganda Kingdom has petition the Speaker of Parliament denouncing the government's proposed Traditional and Cultural Leaders Bill No. 24, of 2010.

Buganda's Attorney General, Apollo N. Makubuya, contends the government Bill which seeks to “operationalise” Article 246 of the Ugandans Constitution curtails fundamental human rights and it should be withdrawn.

“We are advised that the Government has tabled the captioned Bill before Parliament and that it is now being considered by a Committee,” reads Makubuya's petition to Speaker of Uganda Parliament, Edward Ssekandi.

The current day-Uganda acquired its name from the ancient Kingdom of Buganda, a hereditary monarchy that covers the southern part of this East African country including the capital Kampala. Buganda Kingdom is the largest and biggest indigenous monarchy in Uganda with a population of over 10 million people.

“We consider that the Institution of the Traditional or Cultural Leaders Bill 2010 is both bad in law and in spirit,” reads a petition signed by attorney Makubuya, adding that: “It is likely to fuel social tensions and ethnic conflict.”

“It should be withdrawn to save the country and tax payers the acrimony and costly litigation that will follow its enactment,” Mr Makubuya's petition to the Speaker reads in part. The Buganda Attorney General shares a similar surname with Uganda's Attorney General, Dr Edward Kidhu Makubuya who is also the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

Buganda's attorney wrote to Mr. Ssekandi that the Kingdom of Buganda is thus very concerned. “If the said law is passed in its current form, it will not only violate the constitutional human rights of the Kabaka of Buganda but will also be unconstitutional,” reads part of the petition.

In a strongly worded document to the Speaker, Mr. Makubuya argued that, for reasons, and others outlined below, the Kingdom strongly opposes the sad Bill and requests that it be set aside or disregarded by Parliament.

A copy of the petition obtained by this newspapers also reads in part: “We are however concerned that the said Bill, that seeks to “operationalise” Article 246 of the Constitution contains many Clauses that are not only inconsistent with Chapter Four thereof on the protection and promotion of fundamental and other human rights and freedoms but also goes beyond the spirit and letter of Chapter 16 on the Institution of traditional or cultural leaders.”

Faced with the prospect of the general elections and exodus of former minister in Kabaka's government to contest in a number of elective positions, President Museveni is suspected of pushing Parliament to table and pass a law viewed as intending to secure legal means to keep an eye on activities of traditional leaders.

Government crafted the bill with some clauses that are reprisal to traditional leaders for actions of their subjects in the within the kingdom.

According to the Bill, traditional leaders are not immune from prosecution.

That; a traditional or cultural is personally liable for any civil wrongs or criminal offence committed by them or their subjects.

Section 9(2) states that where there is more than one cultural leader in an area of a regional government, the position of titular head shall be rotational for one year at a time. On this Buganda says the section contradicts with their culture arguing that, since 1400 AD the Kingdom of Buganda has had one King at a time and Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II is the 36th King in this unbroken lineage.

Buganda's attorney asserts; “the Bill seeks to legalise the politics of divide and rule and systematic annihilation of the Kingdom of Buganda.”

The controversial Traditional and Cultural Leaders Bill 2010, has caused upheaval from Mengo the seat of Buganda Kingdom, politicians form all the country's political parties, civil societies and religious leaders.

Mengo the seat of Buganda kingdom, views the controversial Traditional Leaders Bill as a measure of curtailing the love among Buganda people towards their King. The kingdom's seat snubs the proposal because of heads chiefdoms that were lately established by government to malice Buganda and Kabaka.

It's accepted as the truth that President Museveni is pushing the Bill because he fears the increasing influence of Buganda King Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II.

Critics say that the president is hurriedly pushing the controversial traditional leaders' bill to curtail the monarch's influence in the run up to the next general election due in a couple of months' time in Uganda. With daily diminishing influence, the Ugandan leaders has accustomed to getting up against anybody who talk to the masses who he asserts that they are his biggest supporter. Although, traditional leaders in Uganda, according to the constitution, they are supposed to stay out of politics. But Kabaka's influence, his approval of a certain candidate(s) in Uganda's elections can succeed to put off Museveni's votes particularly in Buganda region which has the biggest number of registered voters. Under the proposed bill, the Buganda King is not safe from being prosecuted for even crimes against his agents.

According to the Bill, it also prohibits a traditional leader from dealing with foreign governments, except with the approval of the minister of Foreign Affairs. The bill also empowers the foreign minister to form guidelines to adjust any dealings between cultural leaders and officials of foreign governments.

Just after September 2009, intelligence information in Uganda, suggested then that; a foreign government suspected to be Libya sent in money into Uganda ahead of the riots, which broke out after the Museveni's government blocked the Kabaka from touring Kayunga area which is part of his kingdom.

Museveni's confession to then US's Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Jendayi Frazer according to diplomatic cable exposed by Wikileaks, is testimony that he would no tolerate, such unregulated meeting between Buganda King and Libyan leader.

A source told this reporter that a visit early this year by US's ambassador to Uganda, Jerry Lanier's to a Uganda hereditary monarch turned odd and generated extensive debate within Museveni's political establishment. “Lanier's visit to Kabaka's Banda Palace cause a lot of uncomfortable within State House,” said a source, adding that: “He [Museveni] can't take the relationship between Kabaka and Libyan leader [Muammar Al-Qadhafi] as a small thing. Hew is now insecure, by creating such draconian laws, he thinks he can hang on for some more years.”

In a direct challenge about the spirit of the Bill, Attorney General Makubuya demanded that the Bill should be withdrawn to save the country and tax payers the acrimony and costly litigation that will follow its enactment.

Mr Makubuya labeled 7. Clause 13 – Traditional or Cultural Leaders not to Join or Participate in Partisan Politics as; “This is simply outrageous.”

Challenging Clause 13; Makubuya says that: “We have pointed out above that the definition of what amounts to partisan politics in the Bill is flawed and inconsistent with the Constitution.”

He added: “However Clause 13(3) of the Bill makes matters worse because it asserts that a person “joins or participates in partisan politics when that person .... provides a platform where the members of a political party or political organisation articulate the views; aspirations and interests of that political party or political organisation; attends a rally or debate where the views, aspirations or interests of that political party or political organisation are articulated or allows the facilities of a traditional or cultural institution to be used in the promotion of partisan politics”.

Buganda attorney argues that; “this is a sweeping and very subjective provision. Under it, a traditional or cultural leader who innocently attends a debate where people articulate the views; aspirations and interests of a political party or political organisation may be guilty of joining or participating in partisan politics!”

According to Mr. Makubuya, the clause suggests that; if the views of a political party are aired in the Lukkiko or on CBS radio then the Kabaka will be held to have joined or participated in partisan politics. “This is simply outrageous.”

He added: “In real effect the Bill seeks to alienate traditional or culture leaders from their people. Yet in the case of Buganda, the Kabakaship embraces all people regardless of their political, ethnic, religious or other differences. The Kabaka or his officials would be barred from attending Government invitations least for example the President elects to talk about the NRM, which would amount to the Kabaka or his officials being charged with participating in partisan politics]

It is clear that the Bill aims to easily entrap traditional or cultural leaders, and the people who work for them, so that it may then easily abolish them or “withdraw” their recognition under this proposed law.

In real effect the Bill seeks to alienate traditional or culture leaders from their people.

“We have pointed out that many of the Clauses of the Bill are inconsistent with the spirit and letter of the Constitution,” read the petition.

It further sate: “To that extent, the Minister should not have the powers as are envisaged in the Bill because whatever he or she will do under the Bill once enacted, will be null and void.”

Mr Makubuya further explains: “As you are aware, Article 246 (2) only mandates Parliament to prescribe a method that will resolve the issue of traditional or cultural leader where that issue has not been resolved.”

“It does not require Parliament to pass any other laws under chapter 16. And, although Parliament has powers to make laws on any matter for the peace, order, development and good governance under Art. 79 of the Constitution, such laws must be consistent with and in accordance with the supreme law,” read the petition.

Additionally, an attorney and expert on Africa traditions and culture matters who preferred to be quoted as a concern citizen with the knowledge of the law said: “It is fundamentally wrong to use the State to try and re-write people's culture.”

“The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which was adopted by General Assembly Resolution 61/295 on 13 September 2007 clearly rejects any State intervention in matters of culture,” says the attorney, adding that: “In any case Government [Museveni's government] is not an expert on culture to be telling cultural leaders on how to conduct their business.”

He said that: “The Bill is not about the rule of law but an attempt at playing politics using culture as the football.”

“Museveni is alert to the fact that he is unlikely to get any votes from Buganda and while he has no problem stealing his own votes, he fears that NRM MPs in Buganda will all lose unless he manufactures some magic for them,” argued. By having all NRM MPs in Buganda opposing the Bill it yarns them into Baganda heros who will fight for Buganda's causes. They will say that they can influence decision-making unlike the Opposition.

This concern citizen explains that: “It is less than 2 months to elections unless the NRM has already rigged the election why is it introducing a controversial Bill so near to the elections which any other Government would scrap?”

“Is the election just a matter of a periodic ritual to fool the world that Museveni has the peoples' mandate?” queries.

The expert says that, government has no say in people's culture unless cultural norms are found to break human right principles.

“What people do with their culture is a matter for them. And why would we need help on culture when there are more pressing things such as addressing poverty and corruption,” says the expert.

“Museveni confuses Government and the State,” said traditions and cultural expert, adding that: “The purpose of the State is to facilitate and protect both public and private relationships while the purpose of Government is to implement the will of the people.”

He added: “This begs the questions that did the people of Uganda petition the Government to introduce the Bill? If not then to whose benefit is the Bill being introduced? And why is it being introduced without consultation?”

The expert says that unless the Government is saying that it has hijacked cultural powers what it is attempting to do has no basis both in municipal law and morality. “It should be condemned in the strongest terms ever,” he added.