The Government has ended the year with a bang by tabling the Institution of Traditional or Cultural Leaders Bill, 2010, in parliament. The Bill, which seeks to operationalise article 246 of the constitution, apart from providing a hefty welfare package for the cultural leaders at the expense of the tax payers.
However, it also forbids a traditional leader from dealing with foreign governments, except with approval from the minister for foreign affairs. It also empowers the foreign affairs minister to form guidelines to regulate any dealings between cultural leaders and officials of foreign governments.
Under the Bill, traditional leaders are not immune from prosecution. “A traditional or cultural leader is personally liable for any civil wrongs or criminal offences committed by them or their agents,” the Bill asserts.
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.
It is clear that the Bill, is intended to tame the Buganda kingdom and it has caused uproar not only from politicians of all persuasions but also from other civil societies and religious leaders.
One will ask why table this draconian bill now? It is all about president Museveni’s Kibalo (political machinations). The president knows very well that today, he does not need Buganda votes to continue his grip on power. He only needs to do well his Kibalo. Take for example his fellow presidential candidates like Ms. Beti Kamya of UFA claiming that FDC presidential candidate retired Col. Dr. Besigye is worse for the country than Lt. Gen. Museveni. Or one of his so called challengers in the names of chairman Mao – DP presidential candidate has already declared him as leading. As if that is not enough to prepare the country’s psychic in believing in president Museveni as the only capable leader ready to “sacrifice” himself again for the 6th time. Take the shameless Afrobarometer survey, with their tally adding up to 85 not 100. This is to work on the people’s psychic to make them believe that president Museveni is leading by 66% thus will win by a clear majority. It is hoped one day, Afrobarometer will be able to explain to Ugandans what percent means, and one does not need to be an Aistain to know that 85 is a fraction of 100 in this case.
Ugandans know that the purpose of this Bill is to give the NRM MPs breathing space in their campaigns, instead of arguing the real issues (biting poverty, development, service delivery etc) that are affecting the population. Most of the MPs making the highest noise calling on the government to drop the Bill, majority are the NRM candidates. These very NRM parliamentary candidates are known for their hostilities towards traditional leaders in Uganda and Buganda in particular. Now they are becoming more monarchists than Mengo its self.
In today’s (the eighth) parliament, the NRM command the majority with more than 230 Members and the opposition with just about 70. Therefore traditional leaders or Kabaka (as the Bill’s target is Buganda’s King) is on NRM’s mercy to through, out this Bill. Sources indicate the NRM MPs are going to fight tooth and nail to bin the Bill. Their hope is the electorates to see them as heroes who defied president Museveni and their (NRM candidates) reward is to be re-elected.
However, all of this is a gimmick and a slap in the face of the voters by these so called NRM pro Traditional or Cultural Leaders in the country. It is these very NRM members of the the next parliament if they win the elections, who will bring the Bill back in the ninth Parliament. This time the Bill will muzzle and weaken the cultural leaders and finally eliminate their existence in Uganda for good.
This time, whether the Bill is thrown out, shelved or passed into law it will not affect President Museveni’s monolithic family rule in Uganda. He will continue to surprise Ugandans and the world with his political antics. First of all he did not need and does not need the authority of parliament to do anything in the country. For example creating kingdoms within a kingdom like installing Sabanyala of the minority Banyala (of 2.7 per cent of the population of Bugerere county) taking over the majority Baganda (at 32 per cent in the county). Denying the Kabaka entry to some of the counties within his kingdom. Massacre of innocent an unarmed people just because they loved and defended the norms of their traditional or cultural leaders. Sending men and women of the national army on his personal foreign military adventures in the guise of the spirit of Pan-African solidarity or peacekeeping.
President Museveni believes that he will continue organising periodic election rituals where he always turns out victorious. At the same time forgetting that the country is slowly descending into anarchy.
It is unfortunate for the president’s naivety at under estimating the resolve and spirit of Ugandans, who always through positive politics stand and defend the country and their traditional or cultural leaders. This struggle is their life’s honour. Therefore, whoever thinks that Ugandans are to be taken for a ride he is nothing else but a day dreamer in State House.
Liberal Democratic Transparency – LDT Party.