Many people today are indeed quite unsure of what federalism is and what it entails. However, it needs to be said here also from the outset that the Buganda Kingdom government has done very extensive research on the issue of federalism and have made a number of very balanced and well tought out proposals on all aspects of federalism for Uganda. I will return to this later. First let me answer some of the issues and questions you raised.
1. “How did federalism crop up in Uganda body politics?”.
The origin of federalism in Uganda derives from two things. The first is the 1900 Uganda (Buganda) Agreement. This agreement which was infact a “draft constitution” was signed between the British Government and the people of Buganda. The 1900 agreement defined the basis by which the people of Buganda would be governed. The British later signed other agreements with other outlaying tribes or communities, addiding to Buganda, gradually to form Uganda as we know it today. So these agreements, signed under different conditions reflecting different circumstances, provide the first basis of federal system for Uganda.
The second basis of federalism for Uganda is the cultural, social, geographical and locality “differentness” of the various communities that form Uganda. We share some aspirations in common, but we also differ in our expectations and what is of priority to us as different bodies of tribes or communities that comprise the nation Uganda.
2. “The British did not grant Buganda a federal status by 1962 when Uganda popped out of colonial womb at Independence.”
Infact Buganda was granted a federal status at the Lancaster Conference in October 1961, and this was later enshrined in the 1962 independence constitution.The Kingdom of Buganda was governed as a federal regional government until 1966 when the Kabaka was deposed, and the constitution abrogated in 1967, when a unitary constitution was then put in place.
3. “Is there an example in the world where there is a federation between a monarchy and a secular state”?
The United Kingdom of Great Britain is a federation all but in name. Britain does not have a written constitution, but the country comprises of four completely distinct regional governments or nations:- England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Although there is a ‘national parliament’ at Westminster in London, England where MPs from all four nations sit, the Scots also have a parliament, the Welsh have an assembly and Northern Ireland also has an assembly. Infact in World Cup these four regions compete as separate nation.
4. “The Buganda local government is merely a Monarchy form of government. So, if Buganda wants federation, it must first establish a “secular” local government.”
There are two aspects to this particular issue you raised. Firstly, the Kingdom of Buganda has a cultural head; His Highness the Kabaka. However, the characteristic features of the governing structures of the Kingdom of Buganda are no different from, say, those of a Republican or non monarchy government. The current situation whereby the Kabaka appoints members of the Great Lukiiko is a temporary anomaly which infact has been forced on Buganda by the absence of a federal law or constitution. Indeed, His Highness the Kabaka desires so much not to rule as an absolute monarch that is why he has appointed members of the Great Lukiiko and the Buganda Ministers to advise him informally, until such a time when the federal law or constitution is in place.
Secondly, you are right when you say that if Buganda wants federation, it must first establish a “secular” local government. By “secular” I take it that you mean His Highness the Kabaka should not have undue or formal influence in the day -to -day running of the local government or federal government of the Kingdom of Buganda. To create a “secular” (to borrow his word) Kingdom of Buganda or regional government of Buganda the Kabaka needs to become a “constitutional monarch”. This means that His Highness the Kabaka will be a figurehead of state of the Kingdom of Buganda. His powers of state having been devolved to an executive prime minister, or the Katikiro. The fact of the Kabaka being a figurehead means that he “has to accept” the lawful functioning of his government and cannot interfere with it.. The independence of the executive arm of the Kingdom of Buganda government from His Highness the Kabaka will be entrenched in law, in the federal constitution.
Let me now turn to the main question that often raised, namely:- “What exactly is the “Beast” called federalism”?
In plain language federalism is a system of government whereby power is SHARED between national or central government and regional government. Broadly, national or central government has control over matters affecting the nation as a whole, or the area best handled by the central government. While regional government have control over matters of that region. This division of authority is ENTRENCHED in law, in the federal constitution, as well as federal government laws.
The key thing about federalism which differentiates it from a unitary form of devolved local government is that AUTHORITY IS SHARED, between the central government and the regional government. Whereas in a unitary devolved or decentralized local government the central government “gives away some of its power to the local government”. In the federal system the authority of a regional government, such as, for example the Kingdom of Buganda “to act” or “function” is not derived from the central government but from the federal constitutions. The other distinction is that in a federal system, decentralisation starts at the regional level. For example, it is the Kingdom of Buganda government that will decentralise power in a federal system.
WHAT ARE BUGANDA’S PROPOSALS OR “DEMANDS” FOR “FEDERO”?
The proposals or “desires” of Buganda for “Federo” or federalism are contained in the submissions of the Kingdom of Buganda to the 1991 Odoki Constitutional Commission and the 2003 Constitution Review Commission. Buganda has put forward five main demands:-
1. Federal system of government.
2. Kampala district as part of the Kingdom of Buganda
3. The return of the 9000 square miles to the Kingdom of Buganda
4. The excesses of the Land Act 1998
5. The status, immunities, privileges of the traditional leader.
Let us examine each proposal/demand.
FEDERAL SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT.
In its submissions the kingdom of Buganda is not asking for the same federal system as in the 1962 Constitution, whereby only Buganda was granted full federal status and the other kingdoms semi federal status. Buganda has proposed amending the 1962 system so that all regions of Uganda have “full and equal federal status”. The model proposed by the Kingdom of Buganda is infact a combination of Obargot’s district and provincial models.Thus there would be 13 federal states or regional governments of:- Acholi, Buganda, Bugisu and Sebei, Bukedi, Bunyoro Kitara, Busoga,Karamoja, Kigezi, Lango, teso, Tooro, West Nile and Madi.
Buganda have cited about 30 areas which it proposes to be exclusively the responsibility of the central government, this include, to mention a few;- defence, national police force, protection of territorial integrity and regional integrity, arms, explosives, foreign affairs, immigration and nationality, national identy cards, deportations, extraditions, national elections, central bank and all all banks, national parks, inter regional high ways, population and cencus, export duty and import duty, deplomatic protocols, foreign treaties and agreements, etc.
KAMPALA DISTRICT AS PART OF KINGDOM OF BUGANDA
The government has currently put in place the Kampala City Bill by which it intends to bring Kampala district under central government jurisdiction. The Kingdom of Buganda has proposed that Kampala district including the main city district be under the Kingdom of Buganda area. Buganda cites various institutions of Buganda including the Lubiri, the Great Lukiiko Assembly Hall, Tombs of past Kabakas and the fact Kampala is situated right at the heart of Buganda Kingdom.
In order to alley any fears that the central government and /or non Baganda Ugandans or foreigners might be evicted from Kampala, the Kingdom of Buganda has proposed in Article 38 of its submissions to the 2003 Constitution Review Commission that “The National Constitution of Uganda does and should guarantee the equality of all people regardless of ethnic origin in any part of Uganda”.
Also in Article 39 of the same 2003 submissions, that ” There should also be appropriate provisions in the National Constitution that no regional governments has the right to evict the central government from any region of Uganda”.
THE RETURN OF THE 9000 SQUARE MILE TO BUGANDA.
Under the 1900 Agreement, “9000 sq miles of waste or uncultivated land” was allocated to the Colonial Government to keep for the people of Buganda in trust. On 8th October, 1962 before independence this land was reverted to Buganda government and was administered by the Buganda land board until 1967, when it was again taken over by the Uganda Land Commission. Buganda wants this land back and has proposed adequate constitutional guarantees to ensure people already leagally on the land do not suffer and loss, etc.
THE EXCESSES OF THE LAND ACT 1998
The Kingdom of Buganda contends that the 1998 Land Act was an “unfair land law, enacted by Parliament that protected the interest of land occupants at the expense of the land owners. Thus makes meaningful development of the land very difficult and unworkable” . The Kingdom of Buganda is proposing for “A more balanced law, giving sufficient protection to tenants and squatters at the same time giving protection to the land owners rights”.
THE STATUS, IMMUNITY AND PRIVILEGES OF THE TRADITIONAL LEADER.
The constitution currently recognises His Highness the Kabaka as the traditional leader of Buganda. The Kingdom of Buganda however would like the status of the Kabaka to be clearly defined in the constitution. They are proposing the Kabaka to be a constitutional monarch so that he is above party and politics.
Buganda is also proposing that His Highness the Kabaka be immune from prosecution. It is also proposed that His Highness the Kabaka should have precedence in protocol only to the President and the Vice- President during official functions in Buganda. It is also proposed that His Highness the Kabaka should be exempt from direct personal taxation.
My dear friend Obargot and all UAH members, as you can see the “beast” called federalism is infact quite a benign system that will bring about peace, stability, prosperity, equality, transparency, protection of the environment and resources, unity, integration and so much more benefits for the people of Uganda.
That currently many people are unsure or even hostile to federalism is due to lack of information and public awareness about the system. It is the responsibility of the government to put clearly all the sides of the federalism “coin” so that people can understand and make informed choices.. For the record during the Odoki Constitution Commission submissions 68% of Ugandans supported federalism. There is therefore majority support for federalism in Uganda. SO, FEDERALISM WILL definitely COME. Uganda needs it.
Pilipo Oruni Oloya.
UAH forumist residing in London