A section of leaders of Bamasaba Cultural Institution (Inzu Ya Masaba) have accused the Energy minister, Ms Mary Goretti Kitutu, of interfering with the gazettement process of the newly elected cultural head (Umukukha), Mr Mike Jude Mudoma.
Mr Mudoma, the head of Buyobo Clan in Sironko District, was on March 20 endorsed as the duly elected umukukha during a reconciliation meeting chaired by State minister for Gender and Culture Peace Mutuuzo at Mbale District headquarters.
The same cultural seat is being claimed by Mr John Wagabyalire.
The controversy was sparked off by the Energy minister arose during a burial ceremony in Bukiabi Sub-county, Namisindwa District, last Saturday when she told mourners of how she had brought the impasse of who should be the cultural leader to President Museveni for redress.
“I told the President that we have two cultural leaders. I also told the minister (Ms Mutuzo) that we should call delegates from Kenya and those from here and organise fresh elections so that we sort out the mess,” Ms Kitutu told mourners.
She added: “There are people telling us that we have the elected Umukukha but we will not accept that because we know how the Umukukha is elected.”
Ms Kitutu, who is the woman MP-elect for Manafwa District, has since last month been accused of covertly backing Mr Wagabyalire as the new cultural leader.
Mr Wagabyalire was elected in December last year to replace the late Bob Mushikori by a group opposed to the election of Mr Mudoma.
During the recent reconciliation meeting, it was found that Mr Mudoma’s election was conducted in the right manner as opposed to that of Mr Wagabyalire.
“The minister is one of the hurdles blocking the gazettement process of the duly elected Umukhuka. Although she has interests, her remarks were uncalled for,” Mr James Kangala, the secretary general of Inzu Ya Masaba, said.
Mr Nelson Wedaira, the speaker of the general assembly of the institution, told Daily Monitor, that the minister is opposed to Mr Mudoma’s candidature for political reasons.
“The minister was not happy when Mr Mudoma appointed Mr Charles Walimbwa Peke as prime minister because she and Mr Walimbwa have their own political differences,” Mr Wedaira said.
Mr Walimbwa, who is the current NRM chairperson for Manafwa District, also contested for the position of Umukukha in 2015 but lost to late Bob Mushikori by one vote. Mushikori died in January this year.
But Ms Kitutu, while giving her remarks at the burial ceremony, dismissed such allegations and denied to have ever met Mr Wagabyalire.
“There are those people who are saying I support Mr Wagabyalire but this is my first time to see him. I had never met him,” she said. Mr Wagabyalire was in attendance.
Mr Mathius Nabutele, the former deputy prime minister in the institution and an ally of Mr Wagabyalire, said he supports fresh elections as long as they are geared towards restoring sanity in the institution.
“I support any approach that is geared towards restoring sanity and that approach must be inclusive,” Mr Nabutele said.
Mr Herbet Mulekwa, the chairperson of Sironko District, however, said a call for fresh elections is impossible because the term of office of the delegates expired last year.
The communication officer at the ministry of Gender, Mr Frank Mugabi, on Tuesday said the gazettement process of Mr Mudoma is still on.
Source of trouble
The rivalry within the institution started last year after parallel search committees for the next Umukukha were instituted resulting in the election of two parallel cultural leaders.
One of the groups was affiliated to the late Mushikori, and was headed by Mr Geoffrey Wetpondi as its secretary general, and the other to Mr James Kangala, who also served as secretary general.