The federal arrangement is undermined, not because it cannot work, but because the centre still wants absolute power. The crises you refer to were not due to failures of federalism but firstly because of British imperialism that desired the control, inter alia, of a larger portion of the River Nile. Then later on Obote was nearly impeached because of his activities in Congo; when Obote learnt of the pending vote of no confidence in his government, he used the army (henceforth the military interventions in our political lives) to obliterate the Kingdom of Buganda and the remnants of federalism. Please note that Uganda never voted for a republican constitution although I doubt anyone would re-introduce monarchism. Uganda was made a state by colonial design and a republic by force. That this marriage of convenience between different parts of Uganda causes trepidation, is expected, and cannot be simply wished away for ever-lasting tranquility. Furthermore, in terms of the love of power and control, our presidents have not really differed from the colonialists.
You correctly identified the division of powers under a regional system. The catch is that political power is still in the centre in a regional system of government – it does not matter how many ministries become controlled by the regional governments; what matters is how much political power the regional governments can exercise. This is because, the central government, and in the powers vested in the president of Uganda today, the operations and governance of regional governments can be changed at will or even suspended. For example, budgetary allocations to regional governments can be altered regardless of the wishes of regional governments, and a regional government can be easily blamed of underperforming where it is (deliberately) starved of finance and of other resources, especially if a particular regional government is judged to be unfriendly to the central government; in fact the Minister of Local Government might be more powerful than a regional governor. It will take a president of extreme magnanimous proportions to willingly relinquish some of his/her power to federal states in Uganda.
The other reason federalism has been undermined is because anything Buganda favours is anathema to some people. Federalism would be today Uganda’s system of governance if Buganda hated it. It is really amazing that without critical analyses, many subscribers on the UAH forum dismiss federalism as a Baganda thing! Yet, most are living in countries, which are surviving only because they are federal unions of states.
Finally, while an elected Katikkiro is ideal, what would prevent that Katikkiro to act like Obote did against Buganda and the King of Buganda in 1966? Remember that the Katikkiro would possess executive powers. I think Baganda have legitimate suspicions and fear of an elected Katikkiro, especially justified on account of fraudulent election processes, which could usher in an anti-Buganda and anti-Kabaka character. Although the Katikkiro has ever been elected before; those times had fewer Bafuruki. Today, it is possible that we have a Bafuruki majority. So we need some checks and balances. Thus, yes, we can still elect a Katikkiro BUT there has to be censorship of those who can stand for Katikkiroship by the King of Buganda and the Bataka Lukiiko. I for one would not want a Katikkiro who would use executive powers, because s/he is an elected Katikkiro to dismiss my King. I guess other regions in Uganda would exercise similar censorship.
This is clearly a deliberate misinformation from Bukenya, singing his master’s voice. Where and who asked for absolute monarchism? Certainly, not Mengo. People understand the difference between monarchism and federalism. Secondly, the government does not give power – people give power. Anyway, why did Bukenya’s refuse to abide by the referenda about federalism? I am sorry to ask – who are Bukenya’s parents? (Following on the news article having had the trouble to mention that Bukenya is a Muganda).
I sometimes find cause to indulge into analysing some of the sweeping paradigms, which eventually become beliefs. One such is democracy. One definition: democracy is a political system in which all the members of the society have an equal share of formal political power. How does federalism fail this definition? Instead, we see what is called Ugandan centralism so far (from Obote I, Amin, Obote II, and now Museveni) failing democratic principles by degenerating into oligarchies – the political, economic and military power in Ugandan governments have so far effectively rested upon those elite, who are royal to the presidency (not to the people of Uganda – so, for example, they could remove presidential term limits). Indeed, these families prepare their children to be heirs of the power of the Ugandan oligarchy; wait to see Gabonese succession in Uganda. The kingdom of Buganda and the demand for federalism is simply standing against that centralist oligarchy.
Nonetheless, Bukenya’s assertion that once there is one person one vote is democracy is also terribly misleading. Not only have we seen that votes are bought and stolen, particularly in Uganda, but also that it is really financial capacity, which determines the votes in most countries. Absolute democracy (just like absolute monarchism) is currently a myth. On the other hand, federalism brings democracy and political power closer to the people. Federalism differs from Bukenya’s decentralisation in that federalism renders political power to federal states – decentralisation simply gives (Bukenya’s own words!) some responsibilities to districts, while the central oligarchy holds the political power. The current centralists simply fear to lose their controlling position to loot from the centre.
Moreover, while democracy is bears some desirable attributes, it has been thus desirable in some so called democratic countries for some other hidden interests. In some of the Western democracies, there were fears of community or tribal, often indigenous groups, which the conquering powers, looking for resources to support their economies, deliberately had to obliterate. In the USA, were the Red Indians and one way of liquidating their legitimate claim over the USA was to introduce one person one vote, as soon as the Whites became the majority. So was the case in Australia, as a British extension. In both these cases the aboriginals were killed en mass and rounded up into camps, while at the same time the powers encouraged immigration, not of any other race but Europeans – so as to increase their majorities. THEN they introduced one person one vote. To some extent, this has happened in Buganda – killing, immigration of other tribes, and a demand for one man one vote about the Kingdom of Buganda.
My prediction is that the one person one vote format will change as soon as Whites become minorities in the USA and Australia. In fact, the voices supporting power and representation of minority groups have become louder. The point I am raising is that the one reason for the one vote philosophy is that it has benefitted immigrant majorities – it has enabled control by immigrant majorities. I think this is clearly demonstrated in Bunyoro and Buganda where Bafuruki win elections, and traditional institutions are deliberately being weakened.
Extrapolate my hypothesis to Uganda – some of the people most vocal against federalism are those who enjoy control and plunder of ‘national’ resources. In similar light, the East African community will help some dispersed ethnic groups like Banyarwanda to simply disappear as a group, while controlling federal governments.