A year since Buganda Kingdom Katikkiro (premier) Charles Peter Mayiga took office, there are mixed reactions about his performance and future.
Having assumed the job on May 12, 2013, Mr Mayiga laid out the first things he would do as Katikkiro in his first speech, which included: protecting the king’s throne, restoring Kasubi tombs which were gutted by fire in 2010 and those at Wamala, and restructuring how work is done at the Mengo establishment in that order.
Mr Mayiga has traversed the kingdom, mobilising resources for the restoration of the royal tombs. He has been received by huge crowds of kingdom loyalists in a style previously reserved only for Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi.
He also made it clear that he was not just a leader of Buganda but a leader in Uganda while concluding his speech.
To emphasise this, he has moved beyond the kingdom’s frontiers to Ankole and Busoga.
He made history when he became the first Katikkiro of Buganda Kingdom to be hosted officially by Parliament.
Former Katikkiro and veteran politician Joash Mayanja Nkangi describes him as developmental.
“I am pleased that he is able to make people in and outside Buganda to contribute to the kingdom’s projects willingly,” Mr Nkangi says.
However, he warned Mr Mayiga about the politics surrounding the kingdom’s issues. “It will not be easy for him to get all the things that the kingdom demands as the politics surrounding them is very difficult,” Mr Nkangi says.
Another former katikkiro, Mr Daniel Mulika, praises Mr Mayiga for rejuvenating the restoration of the kindgom’s royal tombs.
“He has awakened the Masiro issue which is very good but the people both in Buganda and the rest of Uganda need to get back their power. We are tired of leaders who are our bosses; we want powers that originate from the bottom to the top,” Mr Mulika says.
Mr Mulika cites a new report by the Ministry of Education which puts the central region as having the highest number of households with children out of school, accounting for 83.8 per cent to make a case that Buganda is not developing.
“Is that development?” Mulika asks, “Let this government get out of the kingdom affairs and we shall set education, agriculture and health standards we want and then we shall talk of development in Buganda,” he says.
Prof Sabiti Makara, a lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Makerere University, says: “There has been a gradual realisation that animosity between the kingdom and the State does not help and Mr Mayiga has extended the ambit of reconciliation to government which has yielded good things.”
Prof Makara adds that Mr Mayiga seems to look at the kingdom not in terms of a tribal region but its position within Uganda. “It is very important because it erodes the tribal sentiments that have often been associated with Buganda,” he says.
By successfully touring Ankole and Busoga, the political science don argues that Mr Mayiga has extended the idea of cultural tolerance in Uganda except that one thing stands in his way.
“The people in both the Central and Mengo governments are likely to see him as somebody very ambitious and I suspect that at one time, he will land in trouble because of the suspicion of his motives but again, like anybody, he could also be having his own political motives,” Prof Makara says.
Mr Robert Ssebunya, a former health minister in the kingdom, looks at Mr Mayiga as a revolutionist and compares him to former Buganda Katikkiros Micheal Kawalya Kagwa and Michael Kintu.
To Mr Ssebunya, Mayiga’s approach in the last one year is indicative of what is likely to happen during his time in office.
“His first term has had less politics, more hard work, integrity and transparency in how the kingdom operates. What he has done should be emulated by other kingdoms and Ugandans because we shouldn’t be politicking all the time,” Mr Ssebunya says.
Mayiga in an interview with The Independent last year assured the country of what he stands for.
“I am not a radical at all,” he said, “but I’m very firm in my beliefs. I’m going to stand up and say what I have to say if I think that’s what is necessary to preserve the integrity of the Kabaka, I will say it loud and clear.”
In the past year, he seems to have shed off the radical perception which led to his arrest in 2008.
His message has been centered on tasking people to work hard, have integrity, be transparent, educate children, among others.
Mayiga in his book King on the throne quotes Godfrey S Lule who said of Buganda: “I can see the monarchy being treated like a patient in the hands of a murderous doctor who has injected painful drugs in his victim’s body, continues to give him doses of sedatives and palliatives to gain the patient’s confidence, hope and patience, even as the patient goes through the blissful last moments of his journey on earth…”
It is too early to tell whether Mr Mayiga and his team will heal Buganda and consequently Uganda from the ‘murderous doctor’ or will participate in sedating and palliating her.