KAMPALA — Kabaka Ronald Edward Frederick Kimera Muwenda Mutebi II, the king of the Baganda people – Uganda’s largest ethnic group –has dismissed a proposal by the government to abolish the Mailo land tenure system—describing it as an open attack on the Kingdom.
Speaking at his 28th coronation anniversary at Nkoni Palace, in Buddu—one of Buganda’s 18 counties, the Kabaka expressed disappointment in the proposal which he says its not brought in good faith and that it is prepared to weaken Buganda, where the Mailo land tenure system is most prevalent.
Kabaka Mutebi said that the suggested reforms will mess up the cultural values and interests of the Kingdom and the subjects whose heritage is hinged on land as one of the key principles of their existence.
He indicated that mooting for reforms that specifically target a land tenure system which is largely espoused in Buganda amounts to outright injustice aimed at weakening the Kingdom.
The Baganda make up over 23% of the estimated 44 million Ugandans.
They are found in central and part of southern Uganda and the capital Kampala is in their area.
For years the Baganda have been demanding a federal system of governance but President Museveni rejects the demand, saying it would breed chaos.
Relations between the Ugandan and the Buganda governments have also been strained by a Buganda demand that the central government hands over 9,000 square miles of land held by the kingdom administration until 1967, when the monarchies were abolished.
The Museveni administration restored the largely popular traditional institutions with Mutebi’s coronation in 1993.
President Museveni previously described Buganda’s Mailo tenure as an evil system of land administration.
He argued that it sustains a historical injustice and promoted inequality against tenants by landlords.
But Kabaka Mutebi says a government proposal will create unnecessary tensions between Buganda and the other parts of the country, hence affecting the longstanding spirit of coexistence among multicultural communities in the area.
The King also slammed government over recent security violence on the civilians and echoed the need to promote human rights, fairness and rule of law in all aspects of governance, as a way to upholding values of the historical liberation struggles that occurred when the country was faced with bad leadership.
On his part, Kingdom Prime Minister, Owek. Charles Peter Mayiga, indicated that the cultural institution is still open to negotiations with the government on issues related to the proposed amendments such that they amicably defuse the apparent tensions about the matter.
He noted the subject of land has a central place in the traditions of Buganda, arguing all reform preferred on it should be considered after mutual understanding.