Museveni’s Threat To Kabaka Mutebi

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He is now asking the Kabaka to dissolve the Buganda Land Committee, which has been tasked with educating the people on their rights, and to alert the people of the Government policies that are likely to impact negatively on public interest.

[Africa: Op-Ed]

 

Since the time when President Yoweri Museveni’s letter to the Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II came into the public domain, there have been various speculations as to why the President wrote the letter.

The consistent point in all is that the President was scheming, but no one is buying into his threats.

In response, the Kabaka asked him to calm down and look at the issues in a rational way and left it at that, to Museveni’s annoyance. We believe that it is time to add our voice and examine the causes of the President’s approach to his antics. We will of course look at the letter in some detail.
 
What is certain on this occasion is that the President did not expect his letter to be made public. President Museveni himself has confirmed this and the language in the letter is also void of decorum suggesting that Museveni expected this hot potato to be treated as private by the Kabaka. It wasn’t to be and we are grateful to the Kabaka for letting us in the know of the kind of crude tactics that Museveni has been applying against people he says should not be involved in politics.
 
The President’s letter gives us an insight into how he bullies and intimidates through threats and innuendoes. It is also clear that this is not the first time the President has gone down this road with the Kabaka.

 

The President reminded the Kabaka of the 1996 incident when he asked Kabaka to dissolve the Lukiiko because some people were decampaigning him; and in 2006 when he asked Kabaka to remove Dan Muliika from the office of Katikkiro. Muliika’s crime was fighting the ordinary man’s causes and becoming too popular as a result.


This was causing Museveni a lot of distress because according to him, he is the only one with a vision for the country and the national patent for popularity with the common man. The man has a bloated sense of self-importance. He is now asking the Kabaka to dissolve the Buganda Land Committee, which has been tasked with educating the people on their rights, and to alert the people of the Government policies that are likely to impact negatively on public interest.
 

The threat is pretty obvious, it would seem, because President Museveni is totally opposed to anyone talking directly to the masses, whom he claims to be his biggest supporters, least you expose the truth to them about President Museveni and his Government. On the other hand, the President does not take seriously criticisms in newspapers and the Internet because that reaches no more than 15 per cent of the 30 million Ugandans.
 
Museveni probably genuinely believes that educating the masses on the ways of his Government is incitement because that could cause the masses to reject him or in the extreme, rebel. He sees this as the biggest threat to his rule. Indeed that is why he banned political debate and political parties in the first place. That is why he called his NRM a “national” Movement decreeing that every Ugandan was a member whether we liked it or not. That is why he has regulated public assemblies. That is why he created the “mchaka mchaka” to try and indoctrinate the masses.
 
All the noises that President Museveni is making aims at one thing and one thing only to deny the masses the benefit of another view other than his own.
 
Why is he saying that land is a partisan issue which cultural leaders should not engage in? Is he saying that his proposals to change the Land Law are first and foremost a proposal to promote a partisan interest as opposed to a national interest? Is he saying that to oppose the proposal is to oppose the Government? Is there only one correct way of addressing public grievances? What is this pompous man about?
 
The President dismissed the opinions of those opposed to giving away Mabira Forest as “uninformed” but then he claims to speak for tenants when it comes to land tenure. The contradiction does not seem obvious to him: but how can you promote bibanja yet say that the Government is for large-scale farming? Is it easier to buy out bibanja holders or landowners? There lies the puzzle to Museveni’s agenda. He probably wants to use bibanja holders to steal land from landowners. He has also been planting squatters on the Akenda so that he can give them title through the proposed law.
 
President Museveni has used the State and public funds to decampaign political opposition to his rule for over 20 years. He even inserted a clause in the constitution (Article 269) that banned political opposition to allow him to consolidate his rule. He has used the security forces and the law to harass and intimidate the opposition. The arrogance of the man is now such that he deems decampaigning him as incitement and a breach of the law.
 
In his letter and on many other occasions he has suggested and alleged that Ugandans are in breach of the law: "judges are corrupt"; "Mmengo is acting unconstitutionally"; etc and yet he would not prosecute. The Constitution of Uganda does not give the President any powers not to prosecute when people break the law yet this man arrogates himself these powers. Equality before the law simply means that anyone in breach of the law is prosecuted. It is not up to the President regarding who gets prosecuted. He should not be using these self-made powers to blackmail people on concocted allegations as he is trying to do with the Kabaka and Mmengo.
 
The constitution is very clear and in Article. 2 – Supremacy of the constitution – it states:  (1) This Constitution is the supreme law of Uganda and shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout Uganda;
 
(2) If any other law or any custom is inconsistent with any of the provisions of this Constitution, the Constitution shall prevail, and that other law or custom shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.
 
The President and his officials also confuse the question of ownership. Let us make it very clear, decrees and pronouncements do not create legitimate Government ownership of land. The Government is there to manage what is ours on our behalf. Government does not own public land. Hiding behind UPDF, the national army, and other Government agencies with claims that this or that land belongs to Government or UPDF is a guise for daylight robbery by powerful individuals in Government and UPDF. When tasked to provide evidence Government and UPDF instead issue threats.
 
The constitution is equally clear in Article. 26 – Protection from deprivation of property – it states that:  (1) Every person has a right to own property either individually or in association with others.  (2) No person shall be compulsorily deprived of property or any interest in or right over property of any de scri ption except where the following conditions are satisfied:- (a) the taking of possession or acquisition is necessary for public use or in the interest of defense, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; and (b) the compulsory taking of possession or acquisition of property is made under a law which makes provision for:- (i) prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation. prior to the taking of possession or acquisition of the property; and (ii) a right of access to a court of law by any person who has an interest or right over the property.
 
The President starts his letter to the Kabaka thus: "Greetings and Salutations to you". An official letter should be nothing but that. It should either be a formal letter or nothing i.e. the Kabaka should be addressed by his full title. Indeed the author, Yoweri Museveni, signs off as "President". The familiarity and lack of respect are on display from the first words of this letter. Without any doubt the letter was demeaning and disrespectful of a leader of an over eight million strong Buganda nation and this is no way to conduct public affairs in our name.
 
It is worth pointing out at the outset that this letter is either a tantrum or by a bully seeking to impose his will through intimidation. It does not have anything of substance or relevance to the grievances of an ordinary citizen. The so-called new proposals on land tenure are not about addressing the needs of the country rather it is about the needs of a President and his clique.
 
Museveni tells the Kabaka that he is writing "in connection with the stability and good governance of our country". Which begs the question - what is NRM and what is dictatorship? A dictator is defined as a leader who has absolute and unrestricted control in a government without hereditary succession. The letter to His Majesty the Kabaka was about Museveni’s desire for the Kabaka to do what Museveni wants without question. In case no one has said this to Museveni’s face, he meets the definition of a classic dictator.
 
The people who fought Amin and Obote threw their telling blows operating from Buganda with indulgence and support of the Baganda. Indeed more Baganda died in those wars than any other ethnic group in Uganda. The NRM that fought Amin and Obote was high jacked by opportunists who have been pushing their personal agendas in our name. As for dictatorship; this very letter is manifestation that the author is a dictator who is trying to bully the Kabaka and his people into submission. In other words the dictator is in the house and that is what he fought for not the dictatorship but to take the place of the dictator.
 
President Museveni claims that on taking power in 1986 his Government has "rehabilitated the infrastructure, the economy and so on". The alleged infrastructure does not address the needs of the ordinary citizen who has to pay prices above his or her income to travel from A to B. The availability of imported luxury goods in the country has not improved the lives of ordinary citizens and it is patent rubbish to see this as some success for the country.

 

What does infrastructure mean to you Mr. Museveni? Purchasing junk military hardware or building a Statehouse for $54 million or purchasing a $50 million executive jet for begging missions abroad, which is beyond ones means, does not pass for infrastructure to serve the people. When we talk of Infrastructure to help the citizens we mean transportation networks, schools, hospitals, power generation etc, the kind of things that are scarce in Museveni’s administration.
 
Yoweri Museveni’s claims that he has put in place an infrastructure where "Kampala is now almost joining Entebbe, Mukono, Matugga and Nansana" is exposed by the fact that people are putting up buildings haphazardly, there are no plans or policies in place regarding the alleged expansion. Take an example, Kampala is said to be outside Buganda yet it keeps encroaching into Buganda to the encouragement of Yoweri Museveni. So what is going on?
 
President Museveni wrote "in respect of the Traditional Leaders, through the Traditional Rulers (Restitution of Assets and properties) Act 93, we made it possible for areas of Uganda that so wished to restore or create these institutions." So what? The Traditional Rulers Act 93 specifically mentioned "restitution of assets and properties". Why has the NRM failed to do what it promised, telling us instead that restitution has to be negotiated? We do know what the assets are; they should be formally returned to their rightful owners then the Government, organizations, group of people or individuals would approach the rightful owners with proposals not the other way round – the rightful owners getting down on their knees to force a decision.
 
President Museveni quotes his Constitution that under Article 246 3(a)... (e) "a person shall not while remaining a traditional leader or cultural leader, join or participate in partisan politics''. Yet it is Museveni who always drags the Buganda royals into politics when it suits his selfish political ends. He drags them to political rallies, appoints them to sensitive political offices, and then turns around to cry wolf.
Above all why, on his interpretation, yet again writing to a traditional leader asking him to take sides and negotiate political issues?
 
President Museveni accuses "people that were associated with the traditional institutions, especially in Buganda, making it their main business to take sides in political competition". Where does it say that people associated with traditional institutions, which includes every Muganda, should not involve themselves in politics? And why should they be excluded? Why would laws of Uganda seek to discriminate amongst its citizens? Does the law extend special privileges to people associated with traditional institutions in return for their alleged silence on politics?
 
Museveni is saying that Baganda as a group have no place commenting on political affairs. He prefers that eight million Baganda speak to him through the 70 Members of Parliament most of whom he already compromised, otherwise as a traditional cultural group the Baganda are banned from politics by Museveni. It is apparent that Museveni is fearful of Baganda acting as a single unit (kitole).
 
How in the name do you ban Baganda from politics but allow civil servants and service men to engage and comment on public affairs in a partisan way? For example, the Permanent Secretary in the Lands Ministry has advised the Kabaka to speak to Government. Gen David Tinyefunza has told Baganda to put up and shut up or show him their guns. Why doesn’t the President address these abuses of power instead of issuing threats to Kabaka and Mmengo?
 
If we are talking about competitive politics what is wrong in principle if any citizen sought to make the ruling party unpopular? The example Yoweri Museveni gives here are mere rumors and innuendoes without evidence and without substance. In competitive politics, if CBS, the radio station in Uganda, is misinforming the public about NRM, Museveni can and should use his NRM Vision radio to tell the public what wrongs CBS is telling them. That is what competitive politics is all about. But you do not go to dictate to a private radio station what information it should air to the public. If it is too hot in Uganda’s competitive politics kitchen, NRM should step aside.
 
President Museveni says in the letter that Kaaya-Kavuma who chairs the CBS Board apologized to him. But why? Is there a moral issue or a legal obligation? Because if it is, either Yoweri Museveni is appealing to the wrong authority and whatever he discussed with Kaaya-Kavuma was entirely a private matter between them.
 
President Museveni says, "there is increased activity in buying land because those with money want to engage in modern development….however, [this creates] creating social problems, especially evictions of tenants from mailo land and some leaseholds. This was the outcry whenever I went up-country." Museveni is claiming that he did the research himself. Can he show us some background papers and where the research was done? This is meant to cover up a hidden agenda.

Can Yoweri Museveni tell us more about "those with money"? What we know is that the people selling their land have been left with little or no alternative but to sell. Is he saying that he is proud of the prevailing situation where those who have looted the public purse to buy out struggling citizens are not to blame for the alleged tension? The alleged evictions are by and large carried out by "those with ‘mostly stolen’ money" who buy out historical landlords but refuse to be bound by the incumbencies that come with the land i.e. tenants, etc. Do we need a new law to enforce this institutionally based disregard for the law? No.
 
President Museveni quotes current law, the Busuulu and Envujjo Act of 1928 at Section 11 that: "No tenant may be evicted by the mailo owner from his kibanja save for public purposes or for other good and sufficient cause and unless a Court having jurisdiction shall have tried the case and made an order of eviction. Such order of eviction must be in writing and in triplicate: one copy shall be given to mailo owner, one copy of the tenants or his representatives, one copy shall remain in the file of a case.
 
How then can Museveni justify introducing political intervention when the law is as clearly set out as that? In any case it is patently obvious that the proposals are unconstitutional because the 1998 Land Act and The Land Reform Act 1967 both contravene Sect 26 of the 1995 constitution. Ideally both these Acts should have been declared null and void and legislation that are in conformity with the constitution promulgated in their place. This is unlikely to happen because it would thwart Museveni's plans of grabbing the land.
 
Museveni says that he has told peasants that "babakanga bukanzi, landowners have no legal basis to evict you if you are a legal tenant or bona fide occupant''. The problem therefore is undoubtedly not with the law but its enforcement. The reason the law has failed tenants is because there are individuals who are allowed to act above the law simply because they are part of the NRM leadership and Museveni knows it. It is pretty obvious that the proposal to change the law is not about solving a problem but the sponsoring of hidden agendas.
 
Museveni talks about the corruption of the judiciary but what has he done about it?
 
President Museveni says that "the teeth of the proposed law, is, therefore, in punishing those who take part in the illegal evictions of tenants" Anyone with comprehension of the working of the rule of law would tell you that this is clearly a matter for enforcement rather than a matter of statute.
 
President Museveni says that "it was the NRM that restored that title in the 1995 Constitution having been abrogated by the Amin Land Reform Decree of 1975."


Amin’s decree was just a paper exercise, in practice nothing was taken or stolen between 1975 and 1979. Some have now used that decree to acquire what was not theirs between 1986 and 1995 turned themselves into liberators by denouncing the Decree that gave them property they now occupied. To consolidate the acquisition, they introduced the bona-fide clause in the Land Act 1998.


The President alleges that the Mmengo establishment is steeped in enkwe. But enkwe is part and parcel of NRM politics. For example many leaders of NRM died during the alleged struggle for power through nkwe and Yoweri Museveni was the epicenter of those nkwe and he should not lecture anyone on nkwe.
 
Museveni holds the view that "it is not the role of the Traditional Institutions to engage in land tenure debate" when it suits him. For his information, in the first place the "Traditional Institution" in Buganda is titled "Ssaabataka" meaning boss of landowners in Buganda. How then can this man say that traditional leaders should not engage in the land debate? Who is he to dictate who engages in which debate?

The only requirement on traditional leaders is not to engage in partisan politics. Why should elected leaders be the ones to lobby or debate when we know them to be partisan and slaves to their party leaders?
 
Museveni argues that "traditional institutions are in breach of the Constitution in addition to committing serious offences of sedition by deliberately misinforming the public in order to cause disaffection (kukyayisa) for the NRM". Is there a duty on any one to popularize NRM by law? If it is a political party why does the NRM require special protection? Is Yoweri Museveni talking about the laws of Uganda or is this another bluster meant to come out as if it was the law?
 
The President says that "the law enforcement agencies should have long ago intervened to stop this law-breaking; but I restrained them because I had not met you and we also did not want to send wrong signals to the delegates who were here for CHOGM".  He is saying he suspended the law because Uganda was due to host an international conference. These threats by a Head of State are truly contemptible.
 
Museveni for unclear reasons mockingly refers to the Kabaka as "His Highness". The Kabaka is "His Majesty" not "His Highness" which was a colonial nonsense meant to say that an African King was not the equal of the British Monarch.

Yoweri Museveni needs to carry out a straw poll of "those with money" to understand the ethnocentrism and nepotism he has fostered in Uganda and we do not have the time for that debate here today.
 
Museveni then turned on people he calls encroachers. Well, the Baganda encroachers are people whose land was kept in trust by the Crown and who should be leased some of the 10,500 square miles that NRM claims to own. Government must return this land and then negotiate with traditional leaders on how to make the land productive. The assertion that the Kabaka is responsible for new settlers into Buganda does not wash if those people do not respect the traditional institutions of Buganda.
 
President Museveni arrogantly asks the Kabaka "why do you associate yourself with groups that undermine the unity of Ugandans or Africans? By so doing you become an enemy of the interests of Baganda even in the narrowest sense of the word."
 
The Kabaka does not associate with "groups" rather he works with every Muganda regardless of political persuasion, religious belief, etc. As long as anyone rightfully professes to be a Muganda the Kabaka is under a moral obligation to give that person an audience. If that association is not to Yoweri Museveni’s liking that is tough. Museveni tells the Kabaka that his people the Baganda depend on other Ugandans for trade. But this is equally true of other Ugandans. So, what is the point other than gloved threats?
 
Museveni says that he can best offer protection of trade to Ugandans through the East African Federation. He is definitely grappling in the dark because why then is NRM seeking to undermine landowners?


And why doesn’t NRM protect every life under the Uganda jurisdiction? What is the point of an EA Federation when NRM has no respect for Ugandans? The NRM treats its opponents as traitors or people seeking to incite the public against an alleged good governance of the NRM. Who is to judge: the NRM or the people it purports to lead?

 
Incitement is criminal offence. The Kabaka is not a policing agent to prosecute, neither is the Kabaka responsible for the NRM civic education. If there are any laws being breached Museveni must go to law, ultimatums are not going to work.
 
President Museveni pens off saying "I will appreciate it if Your Highness was to inform me of the specific steps you are taking in respect of the above-mentioned concerns." The Kabaka does not owe Yoweri Museveni a business case for his concerns.
 


Author, Asumani Balwaana Kaama, Union of Councils for Ggwanga Mujje, the Baganda cultural organization

 

 

 

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