MBALE – The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has backtracked on their promise to gazette Jude Mike Mudoma as the duly elected Umukukha of Bamasaba.
Having received conflicting correspondences on the Inzu Ya Masaba cultural institution, the Minister was left with no option but to pen a letter dated April 6, guiding the parties to utilize Section 16 of the Institution of Traditional or Cultural Leaders Act, 2011 to settle their disputes and later report to his office.
The foregoing section provides in Section 16(1) that any conflict or dispute within the traditional or cultural institution or within the community shall be handled by a council of elders or clan leaders or a representative body chosen and approved by the community, in accordance with the traditions, customs and norms of dispute or conflict resolution pertaining to that community.
And Section 16(2) where the community fails to resolve the conflict or dispute in accordance with subsection (1), the matter shall be referred to the court.
The conflict or dispute referred to in sub section (1) is a conflict or dispute relating to—(a) whether or not a community should have a traditional or cultural leader; (b) who should be the traditional or cultural leader of the community or area of Uganda; or(c) whether or not the proper procedure for installation of a traditional or cultural leader has been followed.
Already, there was a meeting involving a council of elders and clan leaders chaired by Hon. Peace Mutuuzo the State Minister for culture in line with Section 16(1).
In that meeting, it was decided that Jude Mike Mudoma and not John Amulamu Wagabyalile be approved and gazetted to replace the Late Bob Mushikori.
This decision did not go down well with John Amulamu Wagabyalile who had been fictiously elected prior to the election of Jude Mudoma.
It is clear that it is Mr Wagabyalile and a group of disgruntled former allies of Mushikori [those hailing from Inda Ya Wanale and Mubuya] have been writing protest letters to the Ministry opposing the gazetting of legally elected Mr Mudoma.
Hon Peace Mutuuzo had initially assured the parties that they were going to gazette Jude Mike Mudoma as the new Umukukha as per the wish of the meeting.
The state Minister had made the remarks after the Mbale District L.C 5 Chairman Bernard Mujasi had read out a resolution endorsing Jude Mike Mudoma as the duly elected Umukukha 111. Now it appears the chance to deal with the dispute under Section 16(1) is exhausted and the only option is court.
The rivalry within the institution started last year after parallel search committees for Umukukha111 were instituted and it looks like the conflict is far from over and will depend on the outcome of Court Civil Suit No. 34 of 2020 in which a one Richard Masereje and Mr Richard Gidagui petitioned court to intervene in the conflicts surrounding the creation, establishment, registration and management of Bugisu’s cultural institution.
In an earlier letter dated 18 December, 2020 to the speaker of Inzu Ya Masaba, the permanent secretary Ministry of Gender, labour and social development Mr Abbey Kibenge said there was so much confusion, disunity, uncertainty and disharmony among the Bamasaba and it was difficult to organize them under a cultural leader.
It should be remembered that Bamasaba cultural institution operates under a rotational basis among the three sons of the founding father of the Bamasaba. The sons include Mwambu, Mubuya and Wanale. By the time confusion emerged, the descendants of Wanale and Mubuya had completed each of their 5 years none renewable term in office and it was automatic for the chance to shift to north Bugisu among the descendants of Mwambu.
When Jude Mike Mudoma was elected as the 3rd Umukukha for Inzu Ya Masaba on 13 October and installed on 21 November, 2020, the Bagisu thought it was game over.
Unfortunately, on 11 December, 2020, another faction aligned to former Umukuka Bob Mushikori led Mr Godfrey Wepondi and Sister Rose Nelima were allegedly bribed, financed and organized a kangaroo election and purported elected Mr John Amulamu Wagabyalile.
They immediately wrote to the lime Ministry submitting the name of Amram Wagabyalile as the duly elected Umukuka in total disregard that the name of Jude Mudoma had been submitted as the duly elected Umukuka 111.
Faced with conflicting information, the Permanent Secretary wrote a letter inviting the speaker, secretary general, the chairperson of the culture council of both factions and the prime Minister and the chairperson of governing council and the chairperson select committee to a meeting on 29 December at 10,00am in the ministry’s board room.
It is not clear whether this meeting ever took place and if it did whether or not it yielded any results but rumours across the corridors indicate that Mr Wagabyalire faction refused to attend the meeting.
According to the 1995 constitution, A “traditional leader or cultural leader” is a king or similar leader, by whatever name called, who derives allegiance from the fact of birth or descent in accordance with the customs, traditions, usage or consent of the people led by that traditional or cultural leader (10).
In Chapter 16, the Constitution states that “the allegiance and privileges accorded to a traditional leader or a cultural leader by virtue of that office shall not be regarded as a discriminatory practice prohibited under Article 21 of this Constitution; but any custom, practice, usage or tradition relating to a traditional leader or cultural leader which detracts from the rights of any person as guaranteed by this Constitution, shall be taken to be prohibited under that Article (10).
It adds that traditional leaders may determine or mediate in disputes over customary tenure. One or both parties to a land dispute may invite the traditional authorities to hear their matter. The Land Tribunal may also advise the parties to use such mediation or may refer the parties to an independent mediator, appointed by the Tribunal, but agreed to by the two parties.
And the present sequence of events in Bugisu that are causing divisions indicate having Umukukha is as useful and useless. Actually the ministry should just disband the entire Bukukka institution.