The President has once again brought back to the fore the matter of the regional tier government. Am a firm believer in federalism for Buganda and all Uganda. There are various NRM functionaries who keep presenting that Baganda professing federalism are actually professing feudalism. This offcourse is not true. The push for federo is not a push for Buganda to return to the pre-1983 set feudal up!. Federalism is about creating a shock-absorber to shield the common man from direct impact of internationally sponsored neo-colonial political-economic programs; its about furthering democracy without removing our true indigenous identities; its about cutting down the cycle of military rule; its about allowing people based accountable institutions to thrive; Re-distributing Uganda’s wealth away from the incurable corrupt center, and creating provincial units that would later be governed by a government of the Federal Republic of East Africa.
There has been elected leaders and democracy in Buganda even before the NRM. The NRM many times has to be propped up by the army and other coercive groups. Mengo and the Buganda Kingdom has always been kept alive by the people. Even when the NRM chooses to close down all media propagating the Buganda kingdom, the kingdom peoples are always available to support and keep their kingdom going. The NRM military will have to keep deploying against kingdom peoples showing support for their king. They will deploy against his kingdom tours, against electing any politician supporting the kingdom views, against business empires supporting the kingdom and yet the NRM always struggles to posture as the kingdom’s best friend.
Any media and individual who question this “friendship” are viewed anti NRM and solely for this reason- the economics and social-cultural freedoms and rights of radio stations must be shut down! The NRM should tell the world that media houses and businesses can only operate in this country if they coalesce the population in support of the NRM or spend all the airtime creating musical super stars local and international.
It is true that the Government of Uganda is the boss of the Buganda Kingdom government but the assumption in HE. M7’s tone of speech is that NRM –the political organisation/movement is a boss of the Buganda Kingdom. This is part of the problem. The kingdom structures must be re-aligned to reflect modern connectivity with the Uganda government and in time with the government of East Africa. Attempts to arm-twist and forcefully create and define the relationship can not produce anything long lasting.
About the regional tier, some of us are ready to welcome it as a middle ground only if the NRM stops presenting it as a tool to undermine the original rulers of the communities for which it is intended. This regional tier government must take further step to protect the authority of the original rulers of the Ugandan communities. The authority of these original rulers of the Ugandan communities is not forced upon their communities. Their authority is people based and propagated and government is for the people, by the people and of the people. Any thing that wishes to undermine the wishes of the people is tantamount to dictatorship and this world will today, tomorrow and forever struggle against any and all forms of dictatorship.
As HE. Museveni and his NRM prepare to bring back the regional tier arrangement, please make it more acceptable for the intended consumers and present it so as to achieve a meeting ground between the two opposing minds. In this regard, the government should include a provision for regionalization of the electoral commission.
The law should provide that the original ruling structures of the communities to form a regional government should have the power to appoint the Regional Electoral Commissions. These original ruling structures are what the NRM has chosen to refer to as Cultural leadership institutions. They are not just “cultural” and the struggle to keep them merely cultural is likely to keep fuelling tensions in this country. In Buganda, the kabakaship with Bataka should be the appointing authority for managers of democratic elections and voting processes. This would not stop NRM to compete with DP, PPP, UPC or FDC for the various elective positions including representatives to the national assembly, regional tier assembly, district/county assembly, sub-county, etc. ; National presidency, regional semi-presidency, district/county semi –presidency, etc . This would be the key to the true realization of democracy in Uganda, a major step towards resolving the long standing question of fully without force integrating Buganda and other indigenous communities into Uganda.
Such regional electoral commission would dilute the fear of electing regional mini-presidents- a Katikiro in Buganda’s case. In the case of Buganda kingdom, a Katikiro elected through an election system supervised by a Kabaka appointed regional EC would maintain the idea of Kabaka appointing the chiefs while at the same time moving the Kingdom towards full democracy. The regional tier government would slowly be allowed semi-autonomy over the region thus allowing federalists some peace in the country. The government should for instance consider removing the office of RDC and instead depend on Professional Non-Partisan National Intelligence Gathering Bodies.
Government should at the same time move away from the thinking that whenever a media house does things that those in government do not like or things which are considered to endanger the public peace, etc- the offending media house should be shut down. This hurts the economy, the politics and society in general. Am of the view that government should view the various items regularly published or broadcast just like the many vehicles regularly using our road network. Whenever a vehicle breaks acceptable road contact, it is put off the road temporarily to pay a pre-determined penalty charges or for the proprietor and driver to face the full course of the law.
Similarly, offending programs or articles may be temporarily discontinued for the offending presenter or proprietor to remit a pre-determined penalty charge/fine or for them to be taken to court and go through the full legal process. The Broadcasting Council is almost like a police force which goes on the road to confiscate the property of wrong doers. I do not think it is right for the Broadcasting council to issue an operating license covering the period of just one year. The economic life of the business is too long. The license supplier is not in any event the owner of the business. The job of the Broadcasting Council should be establishing the availability of a TV or radio frequency and then issuing a license renewable atleast after five years so as to reflect recoverability of investment and profits.
Also, why having two bodies sometimes competing with each other as they do almost the same job. The Uganda Communications Commission has got true electronic experts and regarding word and voice sms based companies- both the UCC and UCC do monitoring and require huge fees to be remitted. Probably they compete similarly regarding internet and telecom companies. As Ugandans chat out a way forward in the aftermath of Mengo Vs NRM riots, it should be considered that the Uganda Broadcasting Council should completely be dissolved into Uganda Communication Commission who has more expertise, have a whole building in town, more experience, are politically non-partisan and have lots more facilities.
HAKIMU. N. SEMUWEMBA