Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi’s fiery rhetoric against President Museveni’s government during the former’s 25th Coronation Anniversary speech at Lubiri Mengo would make one think he was opening a new war on the government.
And yet by visiting Museveni, Kabaka Mutebi sent a message that he can after all meet people he does not agree with on everything. The visit also illustrates the idea that respect begets respect. It is an African ethos that paying courtesy to someone is a sign of respect. Kabaka’s last publicised meeting came in April 2017 at State House in Entebbe.
Without specifically directing his attacks to anyone in government, to many people who attended his 25th Coronation Anniversary at the Lubiri in Mengo, Kabaka’s verbal artillery was unmistakeably aimed at the NRM government. And whereas, we’ve heard such criticism from government’s own supporters, Kabaka’s sharp words still took some by surprise.
Kabaka said: “These days, so many people are greedy. People are corrupt. Corruption has affected service delivery in everything, from education, health, finance to development. These is an island of rich people who are surrounded by a sea of poor people. This is dangerous because it is a recipe for all sorts of criminal activities in our country,”
Speaking in Luganda, Kabaka added: “If greed does not stop, our country will not move forward. You cannot fetch water using a basket and expect to reach home with something. All those in charge of public money should ensure that such funds go to the intended beneficiaries,”
Although the Kabaka has spoken out against corruption, his rhetorical has rarely been this pointed.
Kabaka’s critical stance is part of a growing trend of highly-placed public figures who are showing boldness to tell those responsible for cracking the whip to do so.
While delivering his Christmas sermon, the head of the Catholic Church in Uganda Dr. Cyprian Kizoto Lwanga also criticised greed which he said has led to a lot of poverty and deprivation among majority Ugandans.
NRM’s Deputy Secretary General Richard Twodwong also criticised the system he served when he said that the people in government have amassed wealth to dangerous levels.
The rise in corruption and deprivation is directly or indirectly linked to Museveni’s leadership largely because of his failure to crack the whip on those who steal public resources. During the reading of 2018/19 Budget, President Museveni said he was creating a desk in State House to fight corruption.
Hardly had the message sunk in, than did the Inspector General of Government Irene Mulyagonja rebut the President’s open criticism of her office’s work. She hit back at the President for harbouring the corrupt, whom she said she had tried to pursue in vain.
Nonetheless, by visiting Museveni, the Kabaka knew his criticism wasn’t entirely new. He also knew that visiting Museveni along with the guest the visiting Asantehene Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II was after all good manners and a step to ensuring mutual understanding between his Kingdom and the central government, despite the differences.
It is important to remember as well the the visit of Asantehene Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II was in part facilitated by the state given the fact that Ghanian Aristocrat flew a private jet that landed at Entebbe International Airport, whose security is guaranteed by the President’s own security the Special Forces Command (SFC).
Seen from this perspective, Asantehene’s visit was a deserved thank you to Museveni for keeping the peace that has allowed him to enjoy Buganda and Uganda’s hospitality.
During their meeting at Entebbe, Museveni congratulated the Kabaka Mutebi on his 25th coronation anniversary where the Asantehene was a special guest.
He added that while the governments “Is busy focusing on roads and other such infrastructure developments, cultural leaders play the important role of preserving customs and the identities of the people. I welcome the Ashanti King to Uganda and wish him a fruitful stay here.”