MOU lacks transparency, participation and accountability

Until we receive copies of the MOU we shall continue to ask questions because this is a public, not a private, issue. It is also an issue that goes beyond the interests of Buganda. As they say when Buganda sneezes, Uganda catches a cold.

The MOU apparently signed by the Kabaka of Buganda and the President of Uganda has raised many questions largely because little is known about the process involved in its negotiation and signing.

We understand that negotiations regarding the return of Buganda kingdom began between Museveni and Mutebi during the guerrilla war when the two met in London and again somewhere in Uganda and continued thereafter until about five years ago when everything came to a halt because of fundamental disagreements.

But these discussions regarding public assets have remained shrouded in secrecy. There are stages in the negotiations when things have to be kept secret. But when secrecy becomes a permanent feature or the public is given information that is hard to swallow then suspicions begin to emerge as they have regarding the MOU. This exercise has lacked transparency and participation as well as accountability, the three elements that mark good governance.

Museveni is good at negotiations and making promises. But we also know that he is good at breaking promises including those negotiated in public view or not implementing deals. The situation is even worse in negotiations regarding the return of Buganda kingdom properties because everything until now has been negotiated in secrecy. We don’t know who has participated in the negotiations representing Buganda administration and Central government. We don’t know who authorized them and to whom they are answerable. During the three hour meeting preceding the signing of the MOU the central government was represented by the president alone and no communiqué was issued at the end. We don’t know who designated the three Buganda representatives and to whom they are answerable?

What we know from the Katikkiro’s impromptu press conference is that the MOU could in the long run devalue Buganda. Museveni made the Kabaka agree to recognize the independence of Bunyala and Buruli. He also agreed not to evict anyone from the land and properties they occupy regardless of how they obtained them. He also agreed that those living in Buganda will exercise their cultures freely in the process creating many nations that will not follow Baganda culture. This is a very heavily loaded deal. As they say the devil is in the details. Therefore we need to see the MOU and study it carefully.

The second serious commitment is agreement by Buganda administration that it will provide proof of ownership of those kingdom properties. How long will it take to gather the information if it is still available?

Most serious of all is the undertaking that Buganda administration will not criticize the central government for whatever commission and/or omission. In return, the central government will not criticize Buganda administration for whatever it commits and/or omits. This is disguised dictatorship on both sides.

When the late Kabaka Mutesa II negotiated constitutional and administrative changes with the Governor Andrew Cohen without mandate by Lukiiko, the latter rejected the deal that had been struck between the Governor and the Kabaka and the Kabaka stopped further negotiations.

It appears we might be faced with the same situation whereby the Kabaka Ronald Mutebi II has been negotiating privately with President Museveni and have produced an MOU that doesn’t seem acceptable to the public both from Buganda and from the rest of Uganda. This MOU therefore needs to be frozen until it has been studied in details by all citizens of Uganda.

Let’s not forget this: Museveni restored the Kabakaship for his own interest having realized that Baganda wouldn’t vote for him. But he has since kept the Kabaka on a leash and severely curtailed his rights and freedoms including of free movement.

Museveni has chosen to sign the MOU now because his popularity is waning very fast especially in Buganda particularly since the recent revelations of what NRA did to Baganda during the guerrilla war and grabbing Baganda properties especially land and stealing donations meant to help Baganda resettle after the guerrilla war. Museveni also chose this moment to sabotage the Ttabamiruka conference at the end of this month (August 2013) to discuss foreign occupation of Buganda and to sabotage the work of the recently created National Committee on federalism in which Buganda is playing a vital role.

Once Museveni has been re-elected in 2016 with overwhelming support of Baganda or installed his son as the next president of Uganda, the MOU will be forgotten. As they say once bitten, twice shy. Baganda beware and abandon taking things at face value. The rest of Uganda stands with you.