Buganda Kingdom Prime Minister (Katikkiro) Charles Peter Mayiga. Photo/ FILE


Govt yet to pay Buganda for State House land, says Katikkiro Mayiga

What you need to know:

  • When Charles Peter Mayiga was appointed Buganda prime minister (Katikkiro) on May 13, 2013, he assumed the position with enthusiasm and a catchphrase Buganda kuntikko, literally announcing glory for the Buganda Kingdom.
  • His decade at the helm has not been without challenges, not least of all the constant heckling on social media—voices he insists will not distract him as the kingdom embarks on improving the livelihoods of Kabaka’s subjects. He spoke to Gabriel Buule about his success and challenges.

Where is the accountability for the money you collected during Ettofaali project?
The accountability for Ettofaali project has two versions and that involves what anyone can see with their eyes, which is the 64-acre Kasubi tombs land where we built a three-kilometre perimeter wall called Bbugwe.

Second is the main project of building the Muzibu Azaala Mpanga which is progressing and more evidence is the commercial building in Mengo, Enyumba Masengere, a mega building that is bigger than Bulange.

Inside Masengere is the Kingdom’s television channel called BBS Terefayina.

These are the things that everyone can see with their eyes. However, this question shocks me given that we put out a detailed accountability report in newspapers on Monday, July 07, 2014 and it can be accessed in Daily Monitor archives and the website.

We have already acquired an automated fire extinguishing system from the people of Japan through Unesco which is installed and work on Muzibu Azaala Mpanga is progressing.

Those who are asking for the accountability are not paying attention to what is going on in the kingdom but every resource was put to good use and accounted for.

Before and during your reign as Katikkiro, many parts of Buganda have been disputed, is the kingdom administration bothered?

The Constitution clearly demarcates the areas that clearly make Buganda Kingdom. It is sad that instead of encouraging people to work, the leaders are focusing on non-issues.

History has it that Buganda started with three counties of Mawokota, Kyadondo and Busiro and it expanded as kings annexed many areas. By the time the colonial government arrived, Buganda ruled as far as Buziba which is now part of Tanzania, even in Busoga and people in those areas paid allegiance to the Kabaka.

I can remind you that Kooki County came to Buganda in 1896 but before that Buganda owned it because the Kamuswaaga was under the protection of the Kabaka.

The issue is that some people are just attempting to force us to stay away from the real issues by creating cultural leaders in places like Bugerere, Buruuli, even in Buwekula. At one point they even alleged that Ssese County is not in Buganda not even knowing that traditionally, Buganda hails from Ssese.

We have important issues to focus on and these involve eradicating poverty and hunger. The boundaries of Buganda are known.

What is the state of the kingdom properties that are in government custody?
We have always been clear about Buganda properties and encouraged government to either vacate our premises and land or pay rent.

We also encourage some government departments to acquire lease on kingdom land.
As of now, I can confirm that government vacated Buddukiro, Pokino’s official house in Masaka and we are refurbishing it. That is what we mean when we say, ‘let them vacate’.

On some properties they are paying us and some are asking for lease, which we welcome.
Among those who are paying, the Judiciary rents court premises in its use within Buganda. However, that is not the case with Uganda Police, Prisons, local government and the army in areas like Katabi, Nakasongola, among others. For years, these institutions have occupied kingdom land and premises without paying dues.

We will continue to demand for our properties and also ask those who owe Buganda, to pay all our money.

For the case of State House land, we agreed that government pays us to fully own the land and the government chief valuer returned value of the land in question but we are yet to receive the payment.

The kingdom administration has always been clear about its quest for the Federo system of governance. How far with this?
With federalism, we mean that the central government can concentrate on some areas say; the army, foreign affairs and then regional governments handle issues like health, environment, cultural affairs, and education, among others.

Buganda Kingdom premier (Katikkiro) Peter Mayiga takes the Ddamula to the Butikiro as his clans men protect him at Mengo in June 2013.  PHOTO | FILE

The people of Buganda and Uganda have for years been requesting for federal system of governance right from the Odoki Commission established in 1988 and chaired by Justice Benjamin Odoki to draft the new Constitution and the 2004 Constitutional Review Commission led by legal expert Fredrick Ssempebwa, and the evidence is there that the majority of people in Buganda wanted federo.

Those who crafted our Constitution covertly failed federalism and even during the Constitution review, federalism was again failed.

However, we still insist that federalism will be a key to the development of Uganda. Every region can deal with its own issues. 

Currently, I hear very many people talk about Karamoja. Are there are no people from Karamoja who understand their problems? Why aren’t the people of Karamoja empowered to deal with their own problems?

There are many countries, say Ethiopia, Nigeria and, to an extent, South Africa who have regional governments that directly deal with their problems.

In Uganda, we have the oil-rich Bunyoro region and I wonder why oil money from Bunyoro has to be carried to Kampala and give them peanuts.

Since the creation of Uganda, the country has largely depended on Buganda to date. Where is Buganda’s share?

We need the federal system of governance and we demand for it. However, I urge the people to concentrate on other issues as we wait for federo to arrive.

What is your greatest achievement as Katikkiro?
We have done very many things but what makes me proud is when I meet strangers and they tell me that their lives have changed because of what I said somewhere.

The most recent example is when I was invited to inaugurate a state-of-the-art school library that was named after me. I am not a shareholder in that school but the owner explained to me that he attributes the development of his school to the words that I often say.

Previously, while in Kiteredde, a man walked four kilometres with a goat, bunch of matooke and a cock to gift me for advice given at a public forum, the details of which I could no longer recall. Recalling my words, he started a banana plantation, poultry and animal husbandry which changed his life and family. Those are the things that really make me proud. I feel happy when peoples’ lives change.

In my 10 years as the Katikkiro, I celebrate the people who turn up whenever we organise events intended to support kingdom projects.

Namboole stadium had never filled to capacity until 2017 when we organised the finals of our Masaza (county) football tournament. I remember when Buddu County was playing against Ssingo County, we were overwhelmed by the number of people in attendance.

The number of people who attend the Kabaka’s birthday run has grown steadily and recently more than 10,000 people attended. Journalist Charles Onyango Obbo later wrote that in Africa, no kingdom event with an entry fee attached to it has ever attracted the number of people that Kabaka’s birthday run attracts.

Kabaka Ronald Mutebi (centre) and Nnabagereka Sylvia Nagginda during the recent birthday run in Kampala. Left is Katikkiro Mayiga. PHOTO/COURTESY

When people turn up in big numbers, it is an indicator that the people appreciate those that the Kabaka entrusted to serve on his behalf, which makes me proud.

Another source of pride for me is the coffee project that we initiated called Emwaanyi terimba. It has been a challenge and we hope it will continue to impact people’s livelihoods.

Most importantly, this project is meant to benefit all people regardless of political beliefs or tribe. I continue to encourage the people to embrace coffee growing.

You have been the subject of a fair amount of criticism, especially on social media, what are your critics up to?
I can never be bothered by a few social media users with a handful of followers when I can rally hundreds of thousands to support the kingdom’s projects.

They once told me that there is a man on social media who discouraged the king’s subjects from attending the Kabaka’s run but instead the numbers increased.

At every village event, there is that drunkard who will always share his views and everyone will hear what they say but the event never stops.

I am never bothered about hecklers and I do not pretend about it. What I do is to encourage our people to think more than talking.

My concern is about children who are not in schools, starving families and people who struggle to change lives.

I once visited a village called Katanaabirwa in Kiboga and I found hundreds of pupils who go barefooted to school yet the village was littered with television satellite dishes.

I gave parents one year to make sure that children wear shoes whenever they go to school. A year later when I returned, I found that their mind-sets had changed. Those are the things that give me sleepless nights other than a handful of envious people on social media.

Our people should find serious things today instead of spending time gossiping on social media. Social media is here to stay but our youth must put it to good use.

Very many people are using social media to trade, do business, learn and influence at a fee and that is what our people must do.

The Kabaka’s health has been a concern for his subjects and perhaps they need a clear answer from you
I understand how people feel about the Kabaka’s health because his subjects must surely be concerned about the health of their leader.

I do not know whether people expect me to go on any platform and start telling them about the Kabaka’s health.

When you go to the doctor with an ailment, that doctor is not even supposed to tell your wife unless you authorise him.

We all have parents but I do not know whether you would go to discuss your mother’s ailment on public platforms.

I am not a doctor in any case to discuss Kabaka’s health. They say this so that we get distracted. We are carrying out very many programmes that intend to help the ordinary people but some people are not happy about it.

As I have been telling the public, the Kabaka’s health is handled most professionally by the best physicians in the world.

Political arrests are occasionally happening in the country, especially in Buganda, does that concern you?
The reason as to why this government went to the bush was to fight bad rule and the only thing that can keep it in power is to have a proper relationship with the people and those who are opposing it.

Torturing people is not a proper way to keep government in power. It happens but never lasts for long.
I saw people harassing female Members of Parliament with just a document and I wondered what would happen if at all they let them deliver their document in peace.

Even those who organise rallies must be given their freedom to do so. In Kenya Raila Odinga was allowed to organise a rally and inaugurate himself but Uhuru Kenyatta remained president.

It is dangerous when someone starts to run away from shadows. How can you get threatened by women who are demonstrating with just a document?

Freedom is what this government promised the people when they went to the bush and people must be allowed to exercise their freedoms.

What is the role of cultural leaders in the contemporary Ugandan society and how do you see it evolving?

There is a tendency in this country of lumping all leaders related to culture and refer to them as cultural leaders which I do not think it is wise.

President Museveni (right)receives Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II (left) and his entourage, including Katikkiro (prime minister) Charles Mayiga (behind the Kabaka) and Prince David Wasajja (2nd right) at State Lodge in Nakasero, Kampala on August 3, 2021. PHOTO/PPU

In this country we have kings, chiefs, clan leaders among others which is misleading, for instance the Kabaka of Buganda is not a cultural leader, he is the king.

What I would like to say is that whatever the description you give them, they represent the heritages of different people that constitute the country called Uganda.

They are so significant because they create the State called Uganda. We all know that the formation of Uganda starts with the 1894 agreement signed between Kabaka Mwanga and Sir Harry Johnston.
We all know that the borders of Uganda were concretised in 1926. Buganda has existed for more than 900 years, a heritage defining people, determining their way of life and these realities are very pertinent to our lives.

Heritage is of great significance. It is clear that clans are part and parcel of our daily lives. 
It is pretentious to assume that the State of Uganda which is only 60 years old, has more significance than the heritages to which we belong. Instead, we should use the different heritages of the people who make Uganda to build a strong country with its people enjoying what they inherited from their forefathers. 

Culture is evolving and becoming more relevant and I advise that at national level, people with different heritages must be given space to develop.