By Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi
While presiding over the constitution of the 11th Parliament on Monday, President Yoweri Museveni said that May 24th was the 55th anniversary of the infamous assault on Mengo during the 1966 Uganda Crisis when Uganda Army under the command of the Army Chief of Staff, Col. Idi Amin Dada on orders of the President, Milton Obote, invaded the Lubiri to capture the Kabaka of Buganda, Sir Edward Muteesa ll dead or alive.
That was the second battle of Mmengo, the first being in 1892 when Roman Catholics fought with the Protestants and Capt. Fredrick Lugard of Imperial British East Africa Company sided with the Protestants and used the machine guns to flush out Kabaka Mwanga and the Catholics who fled to Bulingugwe Island in Lake Victoria.
The third battle of Mmengo was in 1982 when Uganda Freedom Movement (UFM) rebels under the late Dr. Andrew Lutakome Kayiira stormed Lubiri barracks but were repulsed and that marked the beginning of the end of UFM but many of the fighters and the arms were integrated in National Resistance Movement/Army (NRM/NRA) under Museveni.
President Museveni on Monday evening at Kololo Independence Grounds said the 1966 crisis was seen as a tug of war between the Nilotics from the North and Bantu in the South. But he said that 55 years later, the gap has been bridged with the election of Jacob Oulanyah as Speaker of the Parliament and Anita Among as Deputy Speaker.
By the way, although the 1966 crisis was seen as Southerners under Sir Edward Muteesa and Grace Ibingira who was UPC Secretary General versus Northerners under Milton Obote and Felix Onama who was Defence Minister, the Chief of Defence Forces Brig. Shaban Opolot hailing from North Eastern Uganda, was a “A King’s man” to use the words of Dr. Obote at a party in 1969. So, while the Speaker hails from Northern Uganda, the Deputy Speaker hails from North Eastern Uganda.
The President’s speech, in my view, will not be realized until we see the full constitution of his government. The President and head of the executive arm is a Southerner hailing from Ankole region.
The head of the legislative arm is from the North so is the head of the Judiciary Justice Alphonse Owiny Dollo. In his book, Towards A Free Uganda (1981), Prof. Yusuf Lule, in his capacity as Chairman of NRM, states that the principle enemies of Obote were Baganda and Basoga.
But in Yoweri Museveni, Selected Articles on Resistance War (1985), the author Ssaabalwanyi Yoweri Museveni states The principle enemies of Obote were Baganda and Banyankore.
Baganda, Basoga and Bagwere speak a common language and share names, clans and totems. According to Dr. M.B. Nsimbi, in his books “Waggumbulizi” and “Amannya Amganada n’ennono zaago (1980), Baganda and Banyakitara (Banyoro,Batooro and Banyankore) was one tribe or nation and spoke a common language. No wonder, the President always say that on national tours in Buganda, Eastern and Western Uganda, he speaks one language without an interpreter.
The NRA Supreme Commander had an interview with Kenya’s Weekly Review in 1985 where he dismissed exaggeration of Southern Bantu who were predominant in NRM/NRA versus Northern Nilotics whom some propagandists had called Anyanya (linking them to Southern Sudanese) by saying that some of the Southern people are of Hamatic and Niltoc origins. That is true like the Bachwezi. Their descendants are Bahima , Bahuma, Batutsi and Batsietsie (Batsiesie of Wanga Kingdom of Baluhya in Western Kenya) who are Hamites.
Even according to Oral Tradition, Kabaka Kintu of Buganda hailed from Galla in the Horn of Africa, and hence a Hamite. The Babiito dynasties of Bunyoro, Buganda, Tooro, Busoga, Bugwere, Kiziba were of Luo origins. So, with inter clan and inter-tribal marriages, Ugandans are a mixed grill.
Having said that, there is hope that where there is imbalance among heads of arms of government, cabinet positions of Vice President and Prime Minister remain for regions who are not heading any arm in the new government. There is a call that the former Speaker Rebecca Kadaga should reconcile with her mentor President Yoweri Museveni, and be included in next cabinet. Unfortunately, she was quoted as saying that she would not want to become a Vice President. But according to Red Pepper, even her predecessor Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, did the same in 2010 but became so in 2011.
There is also hope that a Vice President will be appointed from Buganda for regional balance but most MPs from Buganda are National Unity Platform (NUP). There are however a few exceptional including those representing interest groups like UPDF where there is Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala. Although the President can appoint a Vice President from outside Parliament, the tradition from 1991, is that he has been appointing MPs; Samson Kisekka, Specioza Kazibwe, Gilbert Bukenya and Edward Ssekandi.
But in case he goes outside cabinet, it should be proper if he appoints from within NRM structure where there is First Vice Chairperson Al Haji Moses Kigongo, Second Vice Chairperson Rebecca Kadaga and Regional Vice Chairperson Central, Godfrey Ssuubi Kiwanda.
Some talk of religious balance, saying that since 1994, a Vice President is a Roman Catholic and since 2003, a Muganda. They talk about an NRM loyalist ex-Katikkiro Eng. J.B. Walusimbi. But Hajjati Syda Bumba, a FRONASA child soldier since 1968, has also shown interest. Unfortunately, she lost elections last year. The President has capacity to balance his cabinet as he has done previously.
The writer is a veteran journalist and a Communication Assistant with Digital Unit under Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.
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