By Stephen Lwetutte
It is going to be a herculean challenge to convince the Baganda, and anyone for that matter, that all that the Kabaka of Buganda could get for his life-changing “allergic reaction” are hushed up overland trips to a Nairobi-based medical facility. Uganda watchers would by now have made a firm observation that, 36 years since the advent of the 1986 “fundamental change”, there is still no medical facility good, safe and competent enough to admit the establishment elite, especially the political and security, under their care!
Baganda subjects and the wider country, are still shell-shocked by the images of a very ill and frail Kabaka when he appeared at his 66th birthday celebrations on 13 April 2021, an annually marked event of activities and fanfare. Despite the persistent and credible rumours surrounding the Kabaka’s state of health, no formal indication had been given as to their veracity, beyond their outright denial by Kingdom officials and reassurances of the Kabaka’s wellbeing! Nothing, therefore, could have prepared the public for such images. And it is fair to assume that his condition came to the attention to the public purely accidentally thanks to the birthday event.
The Baganda are now up in arms seeking a satisfactory explanation as to how and why the Kabaka got to that stage. The Katikkiro, who was compelled formally to address the Kingdom on the crisis, stated that the Kabaka was suffering from an allergic reaction and was on the mend. This statement suggests that, although the Kabaka looked quite ill, he had been worse off at one point and yet still no formal communication about his state of health had been issued. No detailed explanation of the nature and scope of the allergy was offered, which was a really lost opportunity to allay the widespread fears of poisoning! Moreover, as confirmed by none other than President Museveni himself, local medical facilities may be death traps for very important persons is Uganda in the context of their security.
In October 2003, President Museveni, in a letter to the local Sunday Monitor, told the nation that he and his family are only treated abroad because he refuses to compromise on his and his family’s security ostensibly posed by political assassins. President Museveni and family are, therefore, regularly airlifted to advanced western medical facilities, for conditions that could be managed in Uganda, with the taxpayer picking up the tab. Other establishment, even lesser mortals are regularly accorded similar consideration, although now that too might no longer be an option given the visa sanctions just slapped by the US on a number of regime functionaries who are complicit in the stifling of democratic processes and human rights abuses. Incidentally, neither former Presidents Amin nor Obote ever sought medical treatment abroad, in and of itself a damn indictment on President Museveni.
If Museveni, a commoner, feels that he and his family are still insecure in Ugandan medical facilities he has superintended for no less than 36 years, what makes anyone think that the Kabaka can make do with them or similar ones in neighbouring Kenya? The safety and security of the Kabaka is paramount for the safety, security and stability of nation of Uganda – the last time it was tampered with, we are yet to recover from the repercussions. If the allegations of poisoning of the Kabaka are subsequently borne out, it is fair to expect consequences for this regime whether he survives or not – it would constitute an assault on the Kabaka and Kingdom of Buganda of no less magnitude than that ordered by Obote in 1966, and the buck stops with President Museveni. There is context already with President Museveni publicly and constantly ridiculing the Kabaka and offending the Ganda cultural sensibilities.
Regardless of the underlying sensibilities, like Museveni, Kabaka’s health must not be compromised and it is in the best interests of the state immediately to take over or oversee the management of the Kabaka’s condition, complementing that with a plausible cause of the symptoms he is suffering from. The security of the Kabaka of Buganda is as important, if not moreso, as that of Museveni.
The writer is a Multilingual Human Rights Practitioner, formerly at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International in London for over 20 years and now Legal and Human Rights Consultant.
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