Three days after his name was dropped from the list of presidential appointees who appeared for vetting in Parliament on Tuesday, the Kyabazinga of Busoga will now serve as a Special Envoy of the President.
In the initial list issued by the Office of the President on January 26, William Wilberforce Kadhumbula Nadiope Gabula IV had been appointed an ambassador for Special Duties in the Office of the President. This generated an outcry within and outside Busoga Kingdom with critics accusing the President of insulting the “youthful” king.
However, on Wednesday the kingdom spokesperson, Mr Andrew Ntange, told Daily Monitor that “He [the Kyabazinga] is now going to serve as the President’s Special Envoy and he will be based in Bugembe (Busoga Kingdom headquarters).”
The initial announcement sparked off criticisms, with a section of the king’s subjects asking him to reject the appointment on grounds that his being inserted into government contravenes the national Constitution and would likely compromise him.
Some of the subjects argued the appointment would make it impossible for the king to preside over mediation talks, especially those involving subjects from either side of the political divide.
Those opposed to the appointment on political grounds point to the increasing number of opposition supporters in Busoga sub-region.
Besides the public criticism, the Busoga Lukiiko and clan leaders also weighed in and advised the Kyabazinga not to take up the appointment saying it would have wide ranging ramifications for the Busoga cultural institution.
Last Saturday, Mr Museveni who was chief guest during the Kyabazinga Day celebrations in Namutumba, defended his decision to appoint the king saying cultural leaders should get employment and work for the development of their kingdoms. He also lashed out at the media for making a meal of a well-intentioned gesture.
“I invested in the education of the Kyabazinga. He now has a Masters degree and when he came to visit me recently, I proposed to him to serve his country,” Mr Museveni said.
Despite the President’s explanation, the Busoga Lukiiko has never relented on its opposition to the move with sections of the public also remaining apprehensive.
Call for support
Mr Ntange could not explain whether the decision to touch up the title was meant to allay public fears or cool public criticism, but was quick to point out that the new title did not require the Kyabazinga to appear before the vetting committee chaired by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, a subject of the Busoga king.
“A Special envoy does not have to be subjected to vetting. He will be doing special assignments and I appeal to the Basoga to support this. It will benefit us,” he said.
The Kyabazinga has since remained tight-lipped on his appointment that has divided opinion in the country among his subjects and non-subjects alike.