President Yoweri Museveni’s usual disposition of the blame game is on display in earnest. This is especially since Amama Mbabazi unveilled his manifesto. What is striking about this manifesto is the unequivocal promise by Mbabazi to give Buganda the federo it has been clamouring for, in all the Museveni’s 30 years he in power.
Depending on the drift of the political circumstances in all that time, Museveni has been promising Buganda the federated status without fulfilling his promises, and only acting piece- meal on a return of a few of the required properties and a quasi autonomy.
But when Mbabazi announced this, instead of addressing the issue head-on while on the campaign trail in Gulu, Museveni veered off to blame Mbabazi for having been a prime minister – and to him, doing nothing about using his power as prime minister and leader of government business to sort out the issues of the day – and that would have included, federo.
On the other hand, Mbabazi has been claiming that he had authority in name only – that Museveni called all the shots. It is easy to believe Mbabazi by the way Museveni is conducting his authority in a manner of micro-management – where he is dealing with all – even the mundane issues, which should be delegated to lesser local powers.
This is not the first time these two have blamed each other over their power structure. Museveni now says that he has only intervened four times in the running of government since 2002. It would be easy to dredge up the many times he has been directing administration, but suffice it to mention just one: the recent Chinese deal of building the dual carriage-way from Entebbe Airport to the Speke Hotel at Munyonyo.
Why was there conflict in the award of the construction of the works between two Chinese engineering companies? It is arguable that this is one of the reasons that led to the sacking of Mbabazi, as he wanted one company, while Museveni preferred the opposing one.
Whenever Buganda has come up with the issue of federo, the majority of other regions have also got on to its coattails to demand the same. Over the years of the NRM regime, this has led to the creation of other kingships and chiefdoms all over the country.
These have accompanied the four most known kingdoms of: Buganda, Bunyoro, Toro – and Ankole should be mentioned in this tally – but Museveni has effectively stymied the recreation of the Ankole kingdom. It has led him to claim that he is the Ssabagabe (king of kings).
Having restored those other kingdoms (and created the others), Museveni has all along claimed that that is the best for them. This has led to other regions that do not want the kingdoms, chiefdoms or chieflets, to want a certain level of autonomy for their regions. In fact this idea resonated very well in the last campaign of Betty Kamya and her Federal Alliance party, but it seemed she did not sell the idea well to those groups.
Nevertheless, there was a development of the talk of the Nile Republic, essentially, positing a breakaway part of Uganda in the north and north east because of a perceived lopsided sectarianism the NRM has caused in favour of the southern part of Uganda.
This is where Mbabazi’s re-introduction of the federo issue for Buganda has to be seen. In a long time, there is now a credible move towards federo. This is because Mbabazi has handed the drawing up of that structure for Buganda to the ultra-monarchist trio of; Betty Namboze, Kalyamaggwa Sseggona and Daudi Mpuuga. It is understood that they will even put to paper and ink the terms of the agreement, so that there will be no backtracking from it as has happened before. Obviously, Mbabazi had been part of that backtracking while he was still in the NRM – so he is aware of the ropes.
The other regions must be watching with keen interest in how the agreement will look like towards implementation. Many of them are likely to re-visit Kamya’s prototype for federalism and how it will fit into their plans. Federal autonomy would be ideal where each region can hustle for its own funds for developing their own areas.
What has happened before is that the NRM goes ahead to solicit donor funds globally, like the Northern Uganda Reconstruction Project ones, and then its luminaries simply steal the money. That will be difficult in an autonomous status as there will be more micro-scrutiny and accountability of such monies. firstname.lastname@example.org