By Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi
MASAKA-UGANDA/NEWSDAY: In late 1985, Ssaabalwanyi Yoweri Museveni held a rally at Masaka Liberation Square. He promised to restore kingdoms.
A Roman Catholic Church owned Munno newspaper published at the time wrote: Obwakabaka bulina okuddawo kubanga Obote bwe yali abuggyawo teyamala kwebuuza ku bantu gyebwali.
The rally was also attended by the then Ssaabataka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, the NRM Vice Chairperson Al Haji Moses Kigongo and the External Coordinator Dr. Samson Kisekka.
In the meeting, was a young student Abed Bwanika, now a veterinary doctor, a former presidential candidate, and an MP representing Kimaanya Kabonera Division in Masaka city.
That was the time l also formally joined NRM at its tactical Headquarters at Lwengo after listening to good speeches of now Rt. Col. Fred Bogere, Brig. Elly Kayanja and the late Commander Male.
No wonder, when Ministry of Local Governments listed Masaka as one of the last cities to be created in 2023, Kabaka Ronald Mutebi called for its priority among the first ones. Government listened and it is now a city.
Restoration of kingdoms Obote had abolished in 1966 crisis was so fundamental because in Africa, kingdoms had never been restored; Egypt in 1952, Rwanda in 1959, Zanzibar in 1964, Burundi in 1966, Libya in 1969, and Ethiopia in 1974.
Even nonpolitical traditional institutions like the Sultanate of Sokoto in Northern Nigeria, and Ashanti in Ghana, were abolished in 1963. Nyarubanja in Kagera Region, an equivalent of Mailo land tenure, was abolished.
Traditional and cultural institutions, regular elections and decentralization are some of the living examples of the achievements of NRM that can speak for themselves.
Yet on January 25th 1971, when l was four years in my home Nnambiriizi village in Mawogola County now Ssembabule District, l saw people celebrating led by our then mosque Imaam, the late Kaluuna Mukiibi, out on a bark cloth, singing: Kabaka adda, Kabaka ajja, ali mu kibuga.
One Muhima pastoralist donated a cow they roasted, and my aunt, Fatina Nantale, who was a brewer donated a calabash of beer.
I asked my mother what was going on, and she told me: General Amin had led a coup against Obote.
One of the leading newspapers, The People had headlines on page one as President Idi Amin ; He is now a general; No return to kingdoms; Election in five years; Severe warning to politicians.
Elections promised in five years or less were never held, a second republic which was proclaimed never had its own constitution and commissions of inquiry that were set up never concluded.
Yet, the fundamental change that was declared by President Museveni after he was sworn in on January 29th 1986 following January 26th victory, now 36 years ago, visible achievements include new cities including Masaka
Masaka, which was a regional capital of Pokino (Saza Chief) of Buddu in pre-colonial times became a town council in 1958, a municipality in 1968 and a city in 2020.
As a result of democratization and popular participation enshrined under NRM 10 now 15 point program, Masaka citizens voted a veteran legislator Florence Namayanja, as the first City Mayor. Yet in 1968, Obote l government imposed the late Francis Walugembe as the Municipality Mayor. Before NRM came to power in 1986, local government leaders were appointed by the Central Government other than elected by the people.
Masaka had been erased in 1979 war but it has been restored due to peace and good policies ushered in by NRM Government.
Tropic Inn hotel which was under defunct Uganda Hotels, that was erased to the ground, was reconstructed, this time by a private investor. So are other new hotels include City view hotel popularly known as Muto new building which is as magnificent as Town Hall.
Solar lights along Bukoba Road which harbors a hotel owned by State Minister for Micro Finance, Haruna Kyeyune Kasolo,
Elsie Hotel owned by DP Vice President General Dennis Mukasa Mbidde, Hotel Brovad, Zebra Hotel, Golf Lane and Court Lane hotels, among others, that have boosted tourism.
Almost all former municipality roads are under construction and the main Broadway road between Welcome round about at Nnyendo, and Kyabajuza round about, has been concluded. Construction of road to Roman Catholic cathedral at Kitovu and Church of Uganda cathedral at Kako are going on, it is also the same from Bukoba Road to Masaka Regional Referral Hospital, Muteesa l Royal University, Saza headquarters, Nyendo-Villa Maria, among others.
Nyendo-Bukakkata road has been commissioned by Minister of Works and Transport, Gen. Katumba Wamala on Monday January 24th, but he declined to commission others because they are not yet completed. There are complaints that Broad way road’s with is reduced in some areas and Public Works Committee has complained to the minister.
Mpigi-Gombe-Kanoni-Ssembabule-Bukomansimbi-Villa Maria is completed and soon Bukoba road reconstruction will commence.
In addition to public works, two modern markets have been constructed , one at Nnyendo that was launched by the President early last year and Central Market in the town that will be completed next month, God willing.
In social services, Masaka harbors not only Muteesa l Royal University and some other tertially institutions, but also big government aided schools include St. Henry’s College Kitovu, Blessed Sacrament Kimaanya, Masaka Secondary School, Kako Secondary School, among others.
Despite 1979 and 1985/86 wars, the scourge of HIV-AIDS, and now Covid19 pandemic, Masaka has boosted in production especially in banana and coffee in addition to livestock, and the challenge now is marketing and value addition.
With the Industrial park ear marked, the presidential promises including a beef factory at Lukaya in 1996 campaign , a glass factory in 2016, and a fruit processing plant which had started under Masaka Cooperative Union, will be realised.
Challenges include corruption, encroaching on wetlands and road reserves, and Masaka City Council land that is dubiously sold to private developers.
As a result of poor planning and prioritization among local leaders, and a poor Curriculum, land fragmentation and evictions, many youth are unemployed. Panga men and ADF terrorists tried to misuse the opportunity, but cutting people to lives and terrorism are things of the past. Shs. 12 billion have been injected in Greater Masaka under Emyoga program and the city has got 1.2 billion shillings and many, regardless of political affiliation have benefited. Operation Wealth Creation, Youth livelihood and women fund have also benefited some, and all that will be consolidated and decentralized under a Parish Development Model where 100 million will be injected in a parish every year.
As we mark 36th anniversary of NRM/NRA liberation Day, where Lwengo served as tactical Headquarters under Ssaabalwanyi Yoweri Museveni in 1985, and Masaka became a garrison town, there is a cause for celebrations.
Haji Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi is a veteran journalist and Deputy Resident City Commissioner Masaka City. Contact: 257-757/772-836537; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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