In Uganda, during the second Lockdown there are Over 100 bar owners who have decided to change business:

9th August, 2021


By Benson Tumusiime

Big Zone Restaurant in premises that were previously occupied by Big Zone Bar in Nansana Municipality, Wakiso District. PHOTO/RACHEL MABALA


At least 100 bar owners in Kampala Metropolitan area have changed business due to the prolonged government shutdown over the Covid-19 pandemic.

On March 18, 2020, President Museveni imposed the first lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19, directing, among others, all bars and entertainment centres to close.

Since then, the bars are still closed although some other businesses have since been reopened.
Mr George Pambason, the secretary general of Legit Bar Owners Association, says more than 100 bar owners have changed business because they were stuck with bank loans, rent arrears and utility bills plus payment of workers.

He, however, says the bar owners have had engagements with the government about possible assistance.
“We have expressed our grievances to them and we hope that with time the government shall consider us as well,” Mr Pambason says.

“We now have the issues with the landlords because of the accumulated rent arrears, the landlords now don’t want to know that we have been in lockdown. We have also requested the Uganda Law Society to provide us with the legal definition of the lockdown so that we can present it before Parliament and government can talk to land lords,” he adds.

Mr Pambason says the lockdown has affected 60,000 registered bars countrywide, leaving an unspecified number of employees unemployed.

Mr Medard Rugubwa, aka Younger, the proprietor of Big Zone Entertainment Centre in Nansana Municipality, Wakiso District, says the lockdown has affected him financially.

“Here at Big Zone, I lost my bouncer because he lost the job and he failed to maintain himself in Kampala. Because of pressure and debts, he ended up being hospitalised and eventually died,” Mr Rugubwa says.

“As Legit association, we lost three prominent businessmen in the industry who were the owners of Happy Boys Bar in Namasuba and Nexus Bar in Najera,” he adds.

Mr Rugubwa, who also doubles as public relations officer for the bar owners association, says he has also changed the business.

“Before the lockdown, my bar was doing well with very many clients because I also used to host musicians. On special days such as Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I could make sales of Shs10 million per day. Then I also cater for more than 100 people who were my employees, but since the lockdown, everything went down,” he adds.


A retail shop in the premises previously occupied by Vision Congo Bar in Kabalagala, Makindye Division. PHOTO/RACHEL MABALA


Mr Rugubwa said he has rent arrears of Shs125 million and a bank mortgage of Shs1.2 billion.

“My music system and other machines have been destroyed, including a number of television sets. Therefore, I don’t know whether I shall recover. This situation has forced me to start a mini restaurant and a boutique so that I can also survive,” he explains.

He adds that by the time the lockdown was imposed last year, his bar had a stock of Shs150 million, which all went to waste.

“I used part of my stock to feed some of the employees so that they can keep the place. Part of the stock was sold to supermarkets cheaply and others were damaged since they were not long life products,” he adds.

Asked which of the bar and restaurant business is more profitable, Mr Rugubwa says: “Me I know the bar business very well. So I have found running restaurant business very challenging to the extent that I can’t even get 10 customers a day.”

“But because I have no choice, I am hanging in there for survival as we hope for the best in future,” he adds.
Mr Bruce Kiggundu, the manager of LA Breeze Bar in Nakulabye, Rubaga Division, says when the lockdown started, he could not sustain running the business anymore because he had many loans.

“When we were put in lockdown, my boss told me to look for some people who can buy the available stock and we leave the place. We sold the stock cheaply and left the business. Currently it is called Nakulabye Furniture Centre,” he says.

Mr Denis Kaka, the manager of Vision Congo in Kabalagala, Makindye Division, says the business was owned by two Congolese nationals. 







Uganda Government energy policy has failed to extend financing, to solar companies, to achieve the required United Nation sustainable development timetable: 

17 July, 2020


By Jamidah Namuyanja 

Energy is an important factor for human development as underscored in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7).

SDG7 seeks to ensure access to affordable, sustainable, reliable, and modern energy for all by the year 2030. Despite this target, 789 million people worldwide, the majority of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa, lack access to electricity.


Marius Korsnes stands in front of a solar cell plant in China during one of his study trips to China. Photo: Private


This is according to the State of the Global Mini-Grids Market Report 2020 published by Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) and Bloomberg.

For centuries, energy has fostered economic development and created wealth for nations. For example, the 18th Century British industrial revolution was heavily driven by coal. In the Middle East and the United States, sectors such as aviation, agriculture, health, manufacturing, education, and most recently, the technology revolution, have been largely powered by proceeds from oil and gas.

There is, therefore a clear correlation between energy and economic development. World economic powerhouses like the United States, Britain, Germany, and China whose energy access levels are high score very highly on the human development index in comparison to those with low energy access like Uganda.
Globally, past decades have seen over-reliance on fossil fuels to power industries and households.

However, with technology innovations and climate change awareness and adaptation measures taking root, there is a shift towards renewable energy utilisation with sources like solar, wind, water (hydro- which, is the major energy source for Uganda), biomass, and geothermal gaining prominence.


Solar cells are now being built in rural areas, too. Photo: Marius Korsnes


Development partners are leading the transition to renewable energy given its affordability and ease of maintenance, especially for small scale businesses and households.

For instance, at the recent Global Off-grid Forum and Expo held in Nairobi, Kenya, organised by GOGLA - the global association for the off-grid solar energy industry and the World Bank’s - Lighting Global, investors agreed to support the growth of the off-grid solar market and accelerate universal access to affordable and sustainable energy by 2030.

The solar sector in Uganda is only two decades old, but its impact on the overall economy has not gone unnoticed in terms of employment, powering agriculture, lighting up schools, homes, businesses, and health centres in remote off-grid communities.

Despite government’s emphasis on increasing grid connections through heavy investment in the construction of hydro-power plants over the years, only about 5 per cent of rural Ugandans have access to energy as per the Electricity Connections Policy 2018-2027.

This has affected household incomes and left many Ugandans stuck in abject poverty as they are unable to engage even in the most basic economic activity.

It is impossible for a rural farmer to improve production and add value to his produce without a reliable energy source. Solar companies in Uganda have sought to change this narrative by providing affordable solutions such as pay-go, where customers pay for solar power systems in daily, weekly, or monthly instalments.

Although the pay-go model has spurred increased access to energy due to its ability to include low-level earners, it has not been without pitfalls. Lack of access to affordable and patient financing is a major hindrance to the growth of many solar energy companies in Uganda, making business expansion difficult.


This photo shows offshore wind power in Rudong – a rapidly growing industry. Photo: Marius Korsnes


It limits the number of clients they can offer products on models such as pay-go and remain operating. Unfavourable taxes by the government, with companies being taxed differently for similar items, also makes importation of solar products and accessories burdensome.

Other challenges include poor, regulatory and policy environment, which pits off-grid energy solutions against on-grid electricity hence creating a negative perception that deters investment; limited collaboration between government and the private sector when implementing the off-grid strategy as well as limited consumer awareness on the value of off-grid products.

Government can remedy this situation and ensure that the country meets its SD7 target by extending financial subsidies to the solar sector and integrating off-grid solutions in its rural electrification plans.

Ms Jamidah Namuyanja is the communications&membership officer
Uganda Solar Energy Association.







In Uganda, old time African farm management practice of pastoralisim is contributing to the destruction of the delicate environment in the so called African cattle grassland corridors:

Meat prices for cattle ranchers have fallen to Shs 1,000(40 pence) a kg of meat as a massive dry spell hits Nakasongola:

Written by URN

 Misair Ssenyange a butcher slaughtering a cow that collapsed at Wabbale village in Naksongola town. The meat was sold at Shs 1000 per kilogram

Misairi Ssenyange, a butcher slaughtering a cow that collapsed at Wabbale village in Naksongola town. The meat was sold at at give away prices.


The price of meat has drastically fallen in Nakasongola district as scores of cattle continue to die on a daily basis due to lack of water and pasture. A kilogram of meat now costs a paltry Shs 1,000, down from Shs 10,000 while a cow goes for as low as Shs 50,000. 

Samuel Kasirye, the prime minister of Buruuli chiefdom explains that the valley dams constructed by both the district and private farmers dried up in August 2018, leaving pastoralists desperate, with no water to sustain their animals. 


Kasirye adds that the rains expected in early March did not come, forcing herdsmen to trek long distances for water and pasture. He says that because of the long distances, animal collapse along the way and die.  

"Animals are dying everyday and each animal is costing between Shs 20,000 and Shs 30,000 because once it cannot move, then the owner has to sell it off." said Kasirye. 

The most affected pastoralists are from the sub-counties of Nabiswera, Lwabyata, Kalungi, and Wabinyonyi. Joseph Muruli, a pastoralist at Kawondwe village, Kalungi sub-county says he has lost over 10 head of cattle so far. He adds that he now spends between Shs 70,000 and Shs 200,000 per day to fuel a truck to fetch water from a distant valley dam to enable other cattle to survive. 


Godfrey Byekwaso, a cattle trader in Nakasongola says that he now buys each cow at between Shs 50,000 and Shs 100,000. He says because of the high supply, they now sell a kilo of meat at Shs 1,000 within the community in Nakasongola.     

Fred Kasumba, a tax collector at Kansirye cattle market says that because of the dry spell, few cattle is now able to reach the market. He says the market used to attract over 300 head of cattle but currently they are only 100 head of cattle which are also in bad shape.  

Wabbale valley dam located on the outskirts of Nakasongola town is the only available water source serving over 700 head of cattle per day from Nakasongola town, Wabinyonyi and Nabiswera among sub-counties. There are fears that it may equally dry up due to the high water consumption. 

Eva Najja, a resident of Wabbale village says that they are worried that if rains don’t fall soon, people may also start dying because they compete with animals for water at valley dam. Pastoralists and residents have asked the government to invest in water for production.  

There over 264,000 head of cattle in Nakasongola district. But, at least 500 of them are lost during the dry spell each year according to district veterinary office estimates. According to a statement from the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) the dry spell conditions are expected to prevail over most parts of the country until late March 2019.  

The Authority boss, Dr Festus Luboyera said in a March 12 statement said that the current dry spell is a result of the tropical cyclone (storm) named ‘IDAI’, which has been over Mozambique and Madagascar. He observes that this tropical cyclone led to the development of a low-pressure system around the Mozambique Channel, which resulted into the weakening of the Southeasterly trade winds in mid-march.

"These winds became diverted towards the channel, depriving moisture-laden winds to reach our country, which is why we have experienced dry spells that have disrupted the onset of March to May seasonal rainfall,” Luboyera said.      

Doctor Sam Eswaggu, the Nakasongola district veterinary officer and Sam Kigula the LC V chairman of Nakasongola said they were outside the district and unable to comment on the issue. However, Eswaggu has been quoted previously saying that the problem has been worsened by the fact that some pastoralists have overstocked animals yet they have meagre resources to look after them.

The confusion between the different officials in government is uncalled for.

These Ganda Agricaultural territories have been invaded by so many ambitious pastoralists.

Their poor farm management is messing up the environment as in the territory of Karamoja and no one seems to mind.

Really if these so called cattle corridors had wild animals as it was milion of years ago, the natural balance of nature would be keeping these lands, wet, fertile and alive to sustain life!
Interesting that these obdurate African pastoralists are learning the hard way that overstocking cattle and stealing thousands of acres of grasslands on which to graze this cattle has its limitations and the whole enterprise can lead to financial loss and destruction.

Because certainly if the huge Sahara desert continues to come South on to the Equator, the African meat production industry will gradually disappear by the year 2060.
There has to come a time, and that time should be now, when Uganda starts thinking of putting a stop to this scourge that is pastoralism.

This practice was acceptable in the age when both the human population and its impact on the environment were negligible.

Today, this isn’t the case. Uganda, already in a region struggling with a high population density, will have over 100 million inhabitants in 30 years time. This is a truly shocking number. No advanced economy would be able to handle such a massive growth in such a short space of time.

We need to rethink our ways 

Pastoralism should therefore be one of those practices that are critically examined, and done away with if need be. We cannot carry on with the old ways like this any longer.

Understanding mailo land and dual ownership of land in Uganda:

February 10, 2019

Written by Geoffrey Mulindwa

The statistics of the Struggle for the resource of land in Uganda


The Mailo land tenure system is one of the most complex among Uganda’s four tenure system.

Its ambiguity leaves many people mistaking it for the Freehold tenure system. While these two tenure systems have some similarities, they are by far different. Mailo land has its origins in the 1900 agreement which was signed between the regents of Buganda, acting on behalf of the young Sir Daudi Chwa, and Sir Harry Johnson on behalf of the queen of England.

This agreement divided the 19,600 square miles that form Buganda kingdom among different entities and individuals. These included the Kabaka (king), regents, chiefs, central government, key offices and other individuals who were found fit.

Before we delve much into the distribution of this land, let us first understand Uganda’s four tenure systems. The first one is customary land tenure; this is land that is held basing on particular customs, traditions and norms of people. It is often communal. It is commonly owned by indigenous communities in Uganda.

Such land is found in the northern and eastern parts of the country. Freehold tenure system; under this system, one owns land for eternity and he/she is entitled to a certificate of title. In Uganda, this is the most favoured tenure.

Leasehold tenure; this is where a lessee has exclusive possession of land through an agreement with the landlord. The agreement is for a specific period of time subject to premium and ground rent. Mailo land tenure; This is the most misunderstood tenure in Uganda simply because it creates dual ownership over the same piece of land.

Mailo land owners have the same rights as freehold land owners, but they must respect the rights of lawful and bonafide occupants and Kibanja holders to occupy and live on the land. (Section 3 (4) of the Land Act). Buganda Land Board operations are largely based on Mailo land and there have been some divergent voices over this land because many people find it hard to understand how Mailo land works.

Buganda’s land falls in the category of Official Mailo land which means it cannot be sold entirely but can accommodate bibanja holders as well as lease holders. Hereunder are a few descriptions of key terms used on this land tenure. Kibanja holders; Persons who had settled on the land in Buganda as customary tenants with the consent of the Mailo land owner under the Busuulu and Envujjo Law, 1928.

A Kibanja holder holds an equitable interest in mailo land which can be transferred with consent of a registered owner. It is worth noting that kibanja is peculiar to Mailo land found mostly in Buganda Bonafide occupant; A Bonafide occupant is one who, before the coming into force of the Constitution 1995—

(a) Had occupied and utilized or developed any land unchallenged by the registered owner or agent of the registered owner for twelve years or more; or

(b) Had been settled on land by the Government or an agent of the Government, which may include a local authority. Lawful occupant; This means a person who entered the land with the consent of the registered owner, and includes a purchaser.

For this article we will go with this definition though a lawful occupant is also one who occupies land by virtue of the repealed— (i) Busuulu and Envujjo Law of 1928; (ii) Toro Landlord and Tenant Law of 1937;(iii) Ankole Landlord and Tenant Law of 1937.

Tenant by occupancy; These include bonafide and lawful tenants. They are considered tenants of the registered owner of the land which they occupy and are required to pay annual ground rent. (Sections 1 and 31 of the Land Act).

Most people in Buganda are tenants by occupancy and are required to pay Busuulu. a. Rights and Duties of Tenants by Occupancy and Kibanja Holders

1. Tenants by occupancy have a right to occupy land under the laws of Uganda.

2. They have the right to enter transactions with respect to the land they occupy with the consent of the registered land owner, which should not be denied on unreasonable grounds. (Section 34 of the Land Act).

3. The law strictly requires tenants by occupancy to give the landowner first option where they wish to sell their interest and vice versa where a land owner wants to sell the land. This must be on a willing buyer willing seller basis. (Section 35 of the Land Act).

4. Where a tenant by occupancy or Kibanja holder sells their interest without giving the land owner first option, he or she commits an offence and loses the right to occupy the land. (Land (Amendment) Act 2010). 

5. A person who buys registered land which has tenants by occupancy must respect and observe their rights.

6. He or she must not evict them except if he or she obtains a court order of eviction for non-payment of the annual nominal ground rent. (Section 32A of the Land Act as amended in 2010).

7. Similarly, any person who buys registered land in Buganda must observe the rights of Kibanja holders on the land.

8. Tenants by occupancy and Kibanja holders can also register a caveat at the Registry of Lands where they have reason to suspect that the registered landowner intends to enter a land transaction which will affect their rights and interests. (Section 139 of the Registration of Titles Act).

One can only secure their land by knowing the tenure he or she is under, his duties and responsibilities on the said piece of land.


The chart to show why land users are not serious enough to want to register land in Uganda.






The dodgy Basajja Shs11.5b compensation claim for Uganda Broadcasting Corporation land-buy, has been placed into the hands of the Inspector of Government business:

The ambitious businessman Mr Hassan Basajjabalaba who has lost money trying to buy the government land.

The dilapitated UBC building that should have been modernized to international standards by now.

By Ephraim Kasozi

2nd February, 2019



The compensation claim for refund of Shs11.5b by businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba for the botched sale of 23-acre piece of land belonging to the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) has been challenged before the Inspectorate of Government.
It is alleged that Mr Basajjabalaba through his Haba Group Ltd is seeking to recover Shs11.5 billion after courts of law rendered the transactions and sale agreement of the land at Bugolobi null and void.
The dispute arose from a February 2011 sale agreement between UBC and Haba Group Ltd for the 23.1-acre of land comprised in freehold volume on Farady Road at Bugolobi, Kampala.

Call for investigation
In a January 25 complaint, a whistleblower has asked the Inspector General of Government (IGG), Justice Irene Mulyagonja, to investigate ‘irregular and fraudulent manoeuvre by some government officials to refund Shs11.5 billion to Haba Group Uganda Ltd.
The complaint states that the High Court dismissed a case in which Haba Group had sued UBC and its former managing director Paul Kihika and also ordered the cancellation of the sale agreement to reinstate UBC as the registered proprietor and a decree was extracted.
“In the unanimous ruling, the Court of Appeal reviewed the ruling of the High Court and ordered that no order to UBC to refund Shs11.5 billion to Haba Group was ever made by the High Court judge and that even if it had been made, it would have been made in error, having declared the agreement of sale of the suit property to have been illegal, null and void, court cannot sanction an illegality or be used to enforce an obligation arising out of an illegal contract,” the complaint reads in part.
When contacted, Ms Munira Ali, the public relations officer at the Inspectorate, said: “We received the compliant and it is being reviewed by the IGG for action.”
The complaint follows several correspondences in regard to payment of the disputed money after the courts of law decided.
In a January 2017 letter, the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, asked the Secretary to the Treasury to expeditiously attend to the demand by Haba Group to avoid interest accumulating on the said money.
Ms Kadaga cited a petition lodged on behalf of Haba Group that sought intervention regarding failure of UBC to refund the money.
On April 6, 2018, Ms Kadaga wrote that her office continued to receive petitions on the matter yet the directive contained in the resolution (of Parliament) was clear.

Deputy AG’s opinion
In a legal opinion to the Secretary to the Treasury dated January 10, 2018, Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana said the issue of refund and or forfeiture of Shs11.5b to government by Haba Group was conclusively dealt with at the High Court where it was held on February 24, 2012, that it would be improper to allow government to be unjustly enriched.
“…it is my considered opinion that Haba Group is entitled to be refunded the full sum of Shs11.5b as was ordered by the High Court and recommended by the Rt Hon Speaker of Parliament in her letter dated April 6,2018,’ reads the opinion.
He added: “Government stands at risk of refunding the full amount in issue together with accumulated interest, damages and costs of litigation, if the refund is not made.”
But the complaint states: “…court refused to be used as an instrument to enforce the illegal transaction and having rejected the notion of a refund, is it in order for the Speaker of Parliament to resolve to refund Shs11.5b to Haba Group given the doctrine of separation of powers and independence of the Judiciary.”
The complaint alleges that the opinion of the Deputy Attorney General and that of the Speaker of Parliament create an impression as if a statutory notice has been served upon his office allegedly to recover Shs11.5b with interest.
“He is intentionally blowing the case out of proportion by creating fear to the Ministry of Finance to irregularly pay.”







President Museveni with his Country of Uganda and the flag since 1962


The King of Buganda with the Kingdom flag. A Kingdom State within a Republican State.


Once bitten, never shy:

24 December, 2009  and Reproduced 4 November, 2018

Written by Henry Lubega

Kabaka Mutesa sent (without) packing, again

This is the second part of our special series on the tug of war between Buganda and the central government, putting this year's bloody clashes and the continuing stand-off in a historical context. The first part showed how the current conflict is uncannily similar to the clashes of 1966 and 1953. In this part, HENRY LUBEGA takes a closer look at how Kabaka Edward Mutesa fell out with the colonial authorities, and then with the Obote government, with disastrous consequences for king, kingdom and country:

President Milton Obote’s attack on Kabaka Edward Mutesa in 1966 is widely regarded as the beginning of the culture of repression and use of the gun to settle differences that bedevils Uganda to this day.


The flight of the Kabaka into exile remains one of the darkest moments in Buganda’s history. Yet long before Uganda’s independence in 1962, there were already strong signs that Buganda would, at best, have an uneasy relationship with the central government. In the 1920s and 30s, the British considered forming a closer union among their East African colonies – Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika, as Tanzania was then known.

The idea was vehemently opposed in Uganda, especially by the Baganda. They feared that the federation would open doors to European settlers, as had happened in Kenya, and that their ancient kingdom, with its treasured culture, would be swallowed up in a bigger East Africa. The idea was shelved, but not completely discarded. Following the appointment of Andrew Cohen as the governor of the Uganda Protectorate, a memorandum on Constitutional Development and Reform in Buganda was signed by the Governor and Kabaka Edward Mutesa in March 1953.

The memorandum stated that “Uganda had been and would continue to be developed as a unitary state.” 
A few months later, the governor announced changes that included an increase in African representation in the Legislative Council, the Governor’s Executive Council, and having the majority of the Lukiiko members elected, not appointed by the Kabaka. These reforms were the prelude to the 1953 crisis that saw Kabaka Mutesa exiled to England. The Lukiiko was, in particular, opposed to having an increase in elected members.

However, Mutesa convinced the Lukiiko to accept the move, reasoning that it would then be harder for the governor to ignore the views of a largely elected Lukiiko. But as the tension over the increase of elected members of the Lukiiko subsided, a fresh burst of anger was stirred up by what Mutesa called a “careless remark” by the Secretary of State for Colonies, Oliver Lyttleton.

On June 30, 1953, Lyttleton, making a speech to the East African Dinner Club in London, said: “Nor should we exclude from our minds the evolution, as time goes on, of still wider measures of unification and possibly still larger measures of federation of the whole East African territories.” 
There was immediate protest from Buganda, whose old fears about East African federation, and the loss of the kingdom’s special position in Uganda, were re-ignited.

“It was clear that a crisis was under way. The mention of federation in East Africa was enough to bring all Baganda anxiety frothing to the surface,” Mutesa wrote in his book The Desecration of My Kingdom.
In protest, the Kabaka agreed to the Lukiiko’s request not to nominate members to the Legislative Council.

Kabaka sent (without) packing

Mutesa, however, held confidential talks with Cohen. He writes, “We drafted what was to be seen as joint statements by the two of us, which I was to read to the Lukiiko. [I] withdrew my demands and accepted the re-assurances already given…our talks had been confidential, I had already been refused permission to tell the Lukiiko what was happening.”

Mutesa wanted to inform the Lukiiko of this tricky situation, much to the governor’s displeasure. “We had reached a curious position where Sir Andrew demanded that I should use all my power to help him implement a policy of which I disapproved as strongly as they (Lukiiko) did.”

“The struggle was now personal, courtesy collapsing. Sir Andrew was talking in threats, and he finally asserted: ‘If you don’t agree, you will have to go.’ My reply was: ‘If anyone has to go, it will certainly be you’.”

The protectorate government withdrew its recognition of the Kabaka on November 20, 1953, on grounds that he had failed to give royal co-operation to Her Majesty’s Government as required by article 6 of the 1900 Buganda Agreement. On November 27, Sir Andrew sent Mutesa an ultimatum to meet his demands. Mutesa insisted on consulting the Lukiiko. Three days later, on November 30, Mutesa was given deportation orders.

“I asked if this meant that I was under arrest and was told that it did. [I had] a hazy feeling that perhaps I should shoot this man.”
He didn’t, as without even a piece of luggage, Mutesa was flown aboard a Royal Air Force plane to Tangmere in Sussex, England. A state of emergency was declared in Buganda. The non-cooperation, which followed between Mengo and the protectorate government, forced the Governor to invite Sir Keith Hancock to head a committee that included leading Baganda to resolve the crisis.

This committee, which sat at Namirembe, led to the Namirembe Conference, which was the basis of the Buganda Agreement and Constitution of 1955. The agreement paved the way for Mutesa’s return from exile. The 1955 agreement left Buganda, and especially the Kabaka, in a weakened position. Although the colonial government agreed not to raise the issue of the East African Federation “either at the present time or while local public opinion on the issue remains as it is at the present time”, it did not rule out resurrecting the question in future.

More significantly, the agreement made the Kabaka, a constitutional monarch, spelling out the limits of his powers and those of the Lukiiko. His ministers were also given some political powers, thereby creating different centres of power. All major decisions by the Kabaka and the Lukiiko, including the appointment of ministers, would be subject to the approval of the governor.

Down but not out

Only three years later, however, another clash occurred between the Mengo and protectorate governments over the issue of direct election of Buganda’s representatives in the Legislative Council. As a result, from 1958 to 1961, Buganda was not represented. Towards the end of 1958, the appointed Lukiiko passed a resolution terminating all the agreements signed between Buganda kings and Her Majesty’s Government. They demanded that powers that had been surrendered to the crown government should be returned to the Kabaka.

The Secretary of State for Colonies, Lord Iain Macleod, met the Kabaka in August 1960 with a delegation from the Lukiiko to iron out their differences, as the country prepared for the 1961 elections that would pave the way for independence. Buganda’s response was two fold: boycott the elections and declare the kingdom’s own independence.

In September 1960, the Lukiiko submitted a memorandum to the Queen, outlining a “plan for an independent Buganda”. Under the plan, an independent Buganda would maintain friendly relations with Her Majesty’s Government, remain a member of the Commonwealth, and seek admission to the United Nations. Buganda would have her own army with the Kabaka as commander in chief.

Arrangements for Buganda’s independence were to be completed by December 31, 1960. On January 1, 1961, the Lukiiko declared Buganda’s independence. Little effort, however, was made to bring the declared independence into reality. As the Lukiiko had decided to boycott the March 1961 elections, it asked people in Buganda not to register for the elections. Some Baganda, however, chose to participate.

The two main parties contesting the elections were the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) headed by Apollo Milton Obote and the Democratic Party (DP) led by Benedicto Kiwanuka. Both parties shared the view that Uganda should continue as a united country. They viewed Buganda’s demands as a threat to that unity as the country moved towards independence. DP won 20 of the 21 seats on offer in Buganda. Having secured another 23 in other parts of the country against UPC’s 35, the Democratic Party formed the government headed by Benedicto Kiwanuka as Chief Minister.

Having failed to secede and the future of the Kabaka and the kingdom in an independent Uganda being uncertain, Buganda changed strategy. It decided to push for a federal status, which would ensure the continued existence of the kingdom, and secure for the Kabaka a superior position within an independent Uganda. In June 1961, thousands of Baganda chanting “Kabaka Yekka” (only the king) staged demonstrations against the government of Benedicto Kiwanuka, whom they viewed as a traitor.

“Kiwanuka’s sins were threefold. He was a Catholic who had opposed the Protestant establishment in the Kingdom of Buganda; he had fought the [1961] election despite the boycott declared by the Kabaka’s government, he was a Muganda and a commoner who had dared to set himself above the Kabaka,” writes I.R. Hancock in the Journal of African History (1970). This anti-Kiwanuka movement led to the founding of Kabaka Yekka (KY) as a political party to fight DP and to promote Buganda’s tribal interests.




Kabaka, Obote jump into bed

At the first Constitutional Conference in London in September 1961, also known as the first Lancaster Conference, to negotiate Uganda’s independence, Benedicto Kiwanuka, as the Chief Minister, vehemently opposed the idea of having Buganda’s representatives to the National Assembly indirectly elected. He knew that DP would stand no chance of winning elections in Buganda in a process controlled by Mengo.

UPC, which had been completely beaten by DP in Buganda in the March 1961 elections, smelt an opportunity to dislodge DP from government by allying with Buganda. The UPC delegation, therefore, sided with Buganda, marking the birth of the ill-fated UPC-Buganda alliance.

In March 1962, direct elections to the Lukiiko were held in Buganda for the first time. In a deal with KY, UPC did not contest any seat. KY easily beat DP, taking 65 out of the 68 seats.  Since it had been agreed that Buganda’s representatives to the National Assembly would be elected indirectly, with the Lukiiko serving as the electoral college, KY’s victory meant that DP had no chance of remaining in power.

When the April 1962 general elections were held, DP won 24 seats and UPC 37. The Lukiiko’s indirect vote handed 21 seats to KY. As agreed earlier, UPC and KY formed a coalition government with Milton Obote as Prime Minister, ahead of Uganda’s independence on October 9, 1962.

Through a constitutional amendment, a provision was made for the non-executive positions of President and Vice President, to be elected by the National Assembly. On October 4, 1963, five days before the country’s first independence anniversary, Sir Edward Mutesa was elected President and Sir Wilberforce Nadiope, the Kyabazinga of Busoga, Vice President.

From the start, the UPC-KY alliance was doomed to fail. While UPC presented itself as a national, progressive party espousing national unity, KY was unashamedly tribal and conservative, pushing for Mengo’s interests.

The only thing the two had in common was the desire to kick DP out of power. As Samwiri Karugire wrote in A Political History of Uganda (1980), “the coalition between the UPC and the Mengo government was a cynic’s delight because the two parties had divergent views on almost every conceivable subject”. It did not take long, therefore, for the two to clash.

Honeymoon ends early

Once in power, Obote started moves to weaken Mengo’s influence. Through patronage and promises of rewards, Obote got a number of KY members in the National Assembly to switch allegiances to UPC. In January 1963, UPC decided to field candidates against KY candidates for two seats in the Buganda Lukiiko but failed. Although the UPC-KY alliance prohibited UPC from opening branches in Buganda, Obote felt strong enough by early 1964 to do so. The remaining KY members considered forming an alliance with DP.

The election of the Kabaka as president had been seen as an effort to bridge the rift between Mengo and the rest of the country, but it seemed to have the opposite effect. The Prime Minister and the President were jostling for state power.

Even on seemingly trivial things, such as whose picture appeared where, became a matter of contention. The constant display of the Prime Minister’s portrait rather than that of the President when playing the national anthem on national television, for example, displeased Mutesa and his supporters.

One of the main sources of disagreement between the Kabaka and the central government was the future of the “lost counties”, which had been taken from Bunyoro and given to Buganda by the colonial authorities, as a reward for its (Buganda’s) support.

The independence constitution had provided for a referendum in the “lost counties” for them to decide their fate. But as census figures showed that the Banyoro outnumbered the Baganda in the area, Buganda was strongly opposed to the referendum.
Despite Buganda’s opposition, the Obote-led government pushed ahead with the referendum in November 1964. Having gained a majority in the National Assembly, UPC was no longer reliant on KY support.

As expected, Buyaga and Bugangaizi counties voted in favour of returning to Bunyoro. The Kabaka’s government challenged the validity of the referendum in the High Court and lost. Its appeal in the Privy Council was dismissed in April 1965. The loss of the two counties to Bunyoro sparked off angry scenes among the Baganda in Kampala.

Buganda’s Katikkiro (Prime Minister), Michael Kintu, was blamed, forcing his government to resign. Kintu was replaced with Mayanja Nkangi, a former minister in the central government, who had resigned following the collapse of the UPC-KY alliance. Whereas UPC didn’t need KY any more, a fierce power struggle was raging between Milton Obote and the newly-elected Secretary General, Grace Ibingira, for the control of the party.

Ibingira, a cabinet minister, was elected Secretary General during the UPC delegates’ conference in December 1964, in Gulu. His aim, he later claimed, was “to build resilience in the UPC against Obote’s tendency to grab all power and promote militarism”. However, some historians say that on the contrary, Obote supported Ibingira’s bid against his critic, who was then incumbent Secretary General, John Kakonge.

Whatever the truth, Ibingira emerged as Obote’s main rival, gaining the support of the Prime Minister’s enemies, including Kabaka Mutesa and Buganda Kingdom. The stage was set for the 1966 crisis. The catalyst, however, didn’t come from Buganda or even Uganda, but Zaire, as the Democratic Republic of Congo was then known.

Amin takes centre stage

In January 1966, Daudi Ocheng, the former Secretary General of KY and a close friend of Edward Mutesa, attempted to move a motion in the National Assembly calling for an investigation of Deputy Army Commander, Col. Idi Amin, over corruption. The UPC parliamentary group refused to support it. He had tried to move the same motion earlier in 1965 without success.

Amin, who was seen as Obote’s confidant in the army, had been accused of involvement in gold and ivory smuggling during military operations in support of Congolese rebels in Eastern Congo. Milton Obote and some of his ministers, including Adoko Nekyon and Felix Onama, were being linked to the alleged smuggling.

Obote told cabinet and UPC parliamentarians that Amin had admitted to having large sums of money on his account, but it was money received from the Congolese rebel group to buy military supplies. The rebel group, headed by Christopher Gbenye and General Nicholas Oleng, was fighting the government of Moise Tshombe, who was seen by Obote as a traitor to the cause of African independence.

He had been involved in the assassination of Congolese independence leader, Patrice Lumumba. Obote had tried to keep support to the rebel group secret, since it had not been officially sanctioned by the government. During a cabinet meeting on February 4, while Obote and his key supporters were on a scheduled visit to West Nile, Grace Ibingira, a minister of state, mobilised his group to support the motion against Amin. Cuthbert Obwangor, who was then acting chairman of cabinet, didn’t have the numbers to block the decision. They asked Daudi Ocheng to re-table his motion.

The same day, February 4, Ocheng tabled the motion in the National Assembly. He accused Obote, Adoko Nekyon and Felix Onama of involvement in the gold and ivory scandal, along with Amin. The motion calling for suspension of Amin while investigations were conducted was adopted.

Obote interpreted the move as an attempt by Ibingira and his supporters, including Ocheng and Kabaka Mutesa, to overthrow his government with the backing of the Army Commander, Brig. Shaban Opolot. There were reports of mysterious troop movements in and out of Kampala in the following days, as the two sides sought to place loyal forces in the capital.

Gloves off in showdown

Upon his return to Kampala on February 13, Obote discovered that the Kabaka had approached the British High Commissioner seeking military assistance. He twice tried to reach the Kabaka by phone but failed. On February 15, Obote accepted to set up a commission of inquiry into the allegations against Amin, Nekyon and Onama. The commission was headed by Justice Sir Clement Negeon de L’estang of the Court of Appeal. He sent Amin on a two-week leave, short of the suspension demanded by the Ocheng motion. (In a report eventually published in August 1971, the commission exonerated Obote and the others).

While seemingly implementing the parliamentary motion, Obote also moved against his rivals. During a cabinet meeting on February 22, 1966, he arrested Grace Ibingira, the UPC Secretary General and Minister of State; Balaki  Kirya, Minister of Mineral and Water Resources; George Magezi, Minister of Housing and Labour; Dr. E.B.S. Lumu, Minister of Health, and Mathias Ngobi, Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives.

The following day, he promoted Amin to take over the army command and moved Shaban Opolot to the newly created post of “military adviser” to the cabinet. To complete the coup against his own government, Obote suspended the 1962 Constitution, removing the Kabaka from the presidency and assuming all powers. In April 1966, Obote convened the National Assembly and had the changes ratified without debating the new Constitution. Obote became the executive president, with John Babiiha as his Vice President.
Baganda members of the National Assembly refused to swear allegiance to the new constitution. It was also rejected by the Lukiiko, a day after its adoption.

On May 20, 1966, the Kabaka’s government issued an ultimatum to the central government, ordering it to leave Buganda soil by the end of that month. Buganda chiefs were called upon to stir up rebellion in their respective areas while a number of Baganda flocked to the Kabaka’s palace in Mengo. Obote reacted by declaring a state of emergency in Buganda on May 23.

The following morning, on May 24, police was called in to intervene in the chaotic situation around the Kabaka’s palace. Later in the day, the Minister of Defence, Felix Onama, asked Obote to authorise the deployment of the army to “restore order”.

Obote sent in the army under the command of Idi Amin. He stormed the palace, overpowering the Kabaka’s guards who attempted to put up resistance. During the fighting, the Kabaka escaped by climbing over the wall. He fled to England through Rwanda. For a second time, Buganda’s conflict with the central government had ended with the Kabaka being forced into exile.

Who should be blamed for the 1966 crisis? To most Baganda, the answer is obvious: Milton Obote. However, some writers have pointed out that other actors, notably Kabaka Mutesa and his confidante Daudi Ocheng, the Mengo government and the Lukiiko, the ambitious Grace Ibingira, and even the tactless Benedicto Kiwanuka, should all share in the blame.

As historian Phares Mutibwa has written in Uganda Since Independence (1992), “In the final analysis, the issue between Mengo and the central government was the basic constitutional one of where power actually resided: in a local unit (Buganda) or with the central authority (Obote’s UPC government). Personalities came into the story merely as catalysts.”

The 1995 Constitution may have tried to answer the question, but it certainly didn’t answer it to the satisfaction of all parties, hence the current tussle between President Museveni and Kabaka Mutebi.


Buganda Kingdom : background

Buganda is the largest traditional kingdom within Uganda (the others are Toro, Ankole and Bunyoro, which make up part of the Western Region). During the colonial period, the British allowed the Kabaka (king) of Buganda and the rulers of the other states a large degree of power and influence, and this was retained a little while into independence. The kingdoms were abolished by Milton Obote in the 1960's but have recently been revived by President Yuseveni's government as a way of bringing government closer to the traditional feelings of the people. 
Roy Stilling, 14 September 1996

When Uganda became independent, Milton Obote became prime minister. Being from the small Langi tribe, he appointed King 'Freddy' Mutesa II, Kabaka of Buganda, as president of Uganda. As has been mentioned, the Baganda were the largest ethnic group and more anglicized (by contact with missionaries and the colonial authorities) than the other groups.

By appointing Mutesa, Obote miscalculated. He alienated other tribes and didn't actually succeed in placating the Baganda, who by May 1966 were openly agitating for Obote's overthrow.  Obote used the then deputy commander of the Army, one Idi Amin to do the dirty work. Amin personally attacked the Kabaka's palace with a 122 mm gun mounted on his (Amin's) personal jeep. The King escaped and fled to Britain were he died in (I think) the early 1970s. Later, of course, Idi Amin staged a coup against Obote. Ironically, this was initially welcomed by the Baganda (naturally, Amin blamed Obote for their persecution). 
Stuart Notholt, 15 September 1996 


The Buganda Kingdom history of flags:

The current flag of the Buganda kingdom comprises three equal vertical stripes of blue, white and blue, with the kingdom's logo placed in the centre of the flag on the white stripe:



The first known flag of RED during the history of Buganda 1861-1881


The next one is white and red during 1881-1889


The next one is white dark brown dark brown white and grey as outlined above. During 15 July 1891- 30 March 1892


This one is all dark brown with a logo in the middle during 1892.


The Buganda Royal Standard as the 19 Century approached.