The Buganda Lukiiko has added its voice to the two most contentious projects backed by the government on amending the constitution; i.e The Magyezi bill on removing the age limits as well as empowering the government to take people’s land without prior compensation.
Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga, while addressing the Lukiiko criticized the government for stifling fundamental principles of democracy including freedom of expression and tolerance.
Describing the current situation as a degeneration in Uganda’s democratic standing, Mayiga said: “We are witnessing a scenario where the government is fearing shadows; not allowing opponents of the age limit bill free atmosphere to debate, boda bodas beating school children because they are putting on red bandanas and the police making no arrest.”
Katikkiro’s comments are some of the most influential from such a high-ranking cultural leader. Although the Lukiiko evaded debate on the matter, the comments add fuel to the growing fire facing the government in its brazen efforts to circumvent popular opposition to the age limit debate.
Other than the age-limit bill, the Lukiiko came out strongly on yet another controversial constitution amendment bill – on land acquisition.
The Lukiiko issued a statement calling upon the Buganda caucus to back up Buganda’s position on the contentious land amendment bill or take responsibility for what they have termed “likely consequences”.
The statement came after a motion that was tabled by Ssese Island representative in the Lukiiko, Augustine Kasirye.
Kasirye said: “I wish to invite members of this Lukiiko to join me to call upon the Buganda caucus within the Parliament in the central government to take the same position we have taken on the land amendment bill,” Kasirye said before the Speaker of Buganda’s Lukiiko Nelson Kawalya, posed the question (about the issue) which the Members answered in the affirmative.
Kasirye’s motion came hot on the heels of a call by Buganda’s Constitutional Affairs Minister Apollo Makubuya, who urged the Lukiiko to reject the bill in the strongest terms possible.
“My appeal to you is to that we should reject the bill and I also challenge the Central government to abandon it altogether,” Makubuya said.
Consequently, for avoidance of confusion, another motion was passed in quick succession to summon Buganda caucus MPs to be briefed on Buganda’s positions early next week.
The development comes at a time when President Museveni is going ahead with a campaign to push for the public’s acceptance of the constitutional amendment to allow government take possession of land prior to compensation.
Makubuya argued that government cannot be trusted on its word to compensate claimants.
He cited the unfulfilled promise by the government to pay Buganda’s rent arrears.
Makubuya said: “In 2013, we signed an agreement with the Central government to Pay Buganda monies for the properties it is occupying but they have not fulfilled their commitment to date,” Makubuya complained, challenging government to pay up as a test of commitment to honour similar commitments the proposed law proposes.