Presented by the Kingdom of Buganda


This Report is not intended to address every issue of concern to the People of Buganda in the Kingdom’s official presentation to the Uganda Constitutional Review Commission. It is intended to address only the most fundamental issues of concern to Buganda, which are:

  1. Federal system of government;

  2. Kampala District as part of Buganda;

  3. The return of the 9000 square miles to the Kingdom of Buganda;

  4. The excesses of the Land Act 1998;

  5. The Immunities and privileges of Traditional Leaders.

This is not an academic Report written for intellectuals. It is a simple Report, written in simple straightforward language, for ordinary Ugandans, who constitute the majority of our population, so that they can understand the presentation made, on their behalf, to the Uganda Constitutional Review Commission.

It seeks to answer many of the most commonly asked questions about the Federal system of Government. Most of these questions have arisen from interviews conducted by the Buganda Constitutional Review Commission, and the generally held misconceptions about the federal system, its effect and impact on development and nationalism in Uganda.

Some of the answers to these questions are a result of views and contributions from various people in Buganda, Uganda and outside.


Executive Summary About Federalism:

Federal is a system of governance. It is not about getting rid of the Central Government. It is not about party politics. It is not about multi-partism or absence of it. It is not about religious differences. It is not about tribalism. It is not for the benefit of Buganda alone. It is not about monarchism. It is not about land or dispossessing people from land. It is not about supremacy of one region over another or others.

It is about helping the Central Government to provide services more efficiently and provide more effective development to the people. It is about SHARING power and responsibilities between the Central Government and Regional Governments.

Federalism is about providing more prosperity, more wealth, more feeling of belonging and participation in governance by marginalized and non-marginalized people. The Federal system of government minimises possibilities of waging war against the Central Government. It minimises internal acts of terrorism and discontent against the Central Government.

It has inbuilt safeguards that ensure uniform growth for all the regions of the country, and additional measures to make sure that marginalized or less developed regions of the country can catch up, through the system of equalisation grants and affirmative action programmes. These ensure that regions with greater income and development contribute a pre-agreed percentage of their earnings to the development of areas, which may be less developed.

It should be noted that Federalism, though different from Decentralisation, does not contradict or exclude Decentralisation. The two systems can and should co-exist and complement each other, at the Regional level. Advocating federal does not mean or seek to get rid of decentralisation from the regional tier. Nor does it mean getting rid of District MPs, LCs leaders or other local government officials.


Perhaps the easiest way to understand and to explain the Federal system of governance is to set out the most commonly asked questions and misconceptions about the System. Responding to these questions and concerns will effectively clarify why the people of Buganda and the people of Uganda generally desire a federal system of Government.

It is important to answer these questions by referring to our history and experience with the Federal System of government in order to ensure that we learn from our past mistakes.

1. What is the Federal System of Government?

In the most basic sense, "Federalism" is a national system of governance in a country with one Central Government for the entire country and several regional governments.

2. What does the Central Government do under this type of arrangement?

The Central Government has control over national matters like defence, citizenship, foreign relations, telecommunication, electricity, inter-region highways, dams, rail networks, airports, national monuments and natural resources and other such overall national policies.

3. What do the regional governments do under this arrangement?

The regional governments take care of regional matters in the particular regions like schools, health services, feeder roads, culture, land, local services, local government, local development plans, local economic policy etc.

4. What is the objective of Federalism?

The primary philosophy under this system is that it is the people in the various regions of the country who are best suited to determine affairs of that region. The regional governments are given autonomy to decide their regional affairs themselves on the terms that best suit them.

5. Has Uganda ever been governed under a federal system of Government?

Yes. From the very foundation of the Country, Uganda was a federation of the Kingdom states of Ankole, Buganda, Bunyoro, Toro, the Territory of Busoga and the other non-kingdom states that make up the rest of Uganda.

6. How was this Federal Arrangement arrived at?

Each of the Kingdom States entered into an independent Protection Agreement with the British Colonial Government to give up their respective independence and join a new federal state known as Uganda, on terms spelt out in the respective Protection Agreements. In the case of Buganda, this was under the 1900 Buganda Agreement.

It was under these Agreements that the very diverse and culturally different peoples in Uganda came together as one nation known as Uganda.

7. What was the relationship between the various Kingdoms and the colonial government?

Under these arrangements, each kingdom state remained in the Union of Uganda upon the terms and conditions set out in its particular agreement. The powers and duties of the respective states, as well as the powers and duties of the Colonial Central Government were properly addressed in these Agreements and the two institutions worked well together.

8. How long did this arrangement last?

This arrangement continued throughout the colonial times until the Protection Agreements expired on 8th October 1962, at independence.

Even at Independence, both the British Government as well as the pre-Independence Ugandan leaders recognised that it was important for the people of Uganda as a whole to continue being together as one nation group known as Uganda that can meaningfully pursue national objectives and aspirations on the world stage.

But at the same time, they also realised the inevitable truism: that the people who made up this nation-state of Uganda were people from different cultural and historical backgrounds, with varying cultural and social needs, aspirations and traditions.

Amidst these differences, a compromise position emerged, at the Lancaster Conference, in the form of a Federal System of Government. This Federal System permitted the various Kingdoms and non-kingdom states to continue following their traditional ways of life and fulfil their cultural and social obligations and aspirations, within the umbrella system of one nation that pursued national objectives and goals. After 1955, the Kabaka became a non-political monarch.

At independence, the system of Government, arrived at by agreement of all parts of Uganda, was embodied in a document known as the 1962 Constitution.

9. What were the basic considerations underlying this Federal Arrangement?

During the colonial period, Uganda had organised into various Kingdom States and districts of peoples with relatively homogeneous ethnic backgrounds. The philosophy was that people should be grouped together into viable regional units, with each unit being made up of people who shared the same traditions, history, language, culture and traditional beliefs.

10. What happened in the non-kingdom areas of Uganda?

In the case of non–Kingdom state areas of Uganda, the system of Administration divided the nation into large district groups, with each district large enough to encompass whole ethnic groups with the above characteristics. There were very few exceptions to this general rule.

The colonial districts were much larger and more economically viable units than the current fragmented mostly unviable districts. Many of these colonial districts were governed directly from the centre and did not benefit from the federal system. Although these areas were negatively impacted by being administered from the centre, the colonial government mitigated their lack of benefits of full Federal by grouping and administering them through "quasi federal", large and economically viable regional blocks named Northern Region, Eastern Region and Western Region.

11. How were the federal regions administered?

During the colonial period, the various states and districts were administered through their traditional leaders and cultural institutions where these existed. For example, under the 1900 Buganda Agreement, the Kingdom of Buganda remained a Kingdom as a whole, and was administered through the Kabaka (King), the Katikkiro (Prime Minister), the Abakungu (Ministers), the Lukiiko (Parliament), and the local government administrative structure from the Masaza to Batongole. Similar arrangements worked with the rest of Uganda. This federal and semi-federal arrangement was maintained by the 1962 constitution.

12. Why did the colonial government rely on traditional leaders and institutions in the governance of Uganda?

The British colonial government recognised that traditional leaders and cultural institutions played a very major role in the development and transformation of society. They also realised that it was much easier to mobilise people of similar ethnic backgrounds to work together, through their traditional institutions for development. It was for this reason that they relied upon the traditional institutions to achieve the rapid transformation of societies in Uganda.

13. Did this Federal arrangement work in Uganda?

In all Uganda’s recorded history, the period between 1945 and 1967 was the period that marked the fastest level of development of Ugandan society during which we saw a very rapid economic transformation.

Most of the institutions, schools and colleges, roads, hospitals and much of our physical infrastructure were all built during this period.

Uganda’s economic growth rate in the 1950’s and 1960’s was one of the fastest in the world. We were a more economically advanced society than the famous Asian Tiger nations like Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan. In East Africa, we were far ahead of our neighbours Kenya and Tanzania, and other nations in the region. Uganda was then known as the Switzerland of Africa.

14. What happened to the Federal System of Government in Uganda?

In 1966, the Kabaka’s palace was invaded by the Central Government and the Kabaka was forced into exile. Uganda’s federal system was unilaterally abolished in contravention of the pre-agreed 1962 Constitution. This was done without any consultation or consent of the people of Uganda.

In 1967, a new constitution was put in place that abolished federal arrangements all over Uganda. This Constitution also unilaterally abolished the institutions of traditional and cultural leaders in Uganda.

15. Why was the federal system removed? Was it because it did not work?

Various reasons can be advanced for the forceful overthrow of the system, but the most important one was simply the clash between the two leaders of the time.

Evidence of the fact that it was this clash and not the failure of the Federal System, can be found in the speech made by Prime Minister Milton Obote to the National Parliament on 30th June, 1966. This speech is reported in the Parliamentary Debates (Hansard), 1st Session, 1966-67, 2nd Series, volume 63, from pages 529 onwards. At page 534, Hansard reports, in Obote’s own words that "the cause of the trouble is the ambitions of Sir Edward Muteesa and nothing more".

Furthermore, although Obote invaded the Palace in 1966, when he introduced his pigeonhole Constitution in April 1966, he did not, under that Constitution, abolish the Federal system of government for Uganda. Instead he engaged in dialogue with the Buganda leadership to find out whether they would install another prince as the Kabaka.

It was only after Buganda refused to have any other Kabaka but Mutesa II, that Obote decided in May 1967 (over a year later), to abolish the federal system and to rule the whole country from the centre. This he did by introducing the 1967 Constitution, under which re renamed Uganda a Republic.

The clash between the two leaders was exacerbated by the problems inevitably caused when a new position of Head of State (a political role) was created in 1964. A king, who was the head of his own regional Kingdom, occupied this new contradictory position of the national Head of State.

The merger of traditional leadership of a Kingdom and political leadership of the whole Nation, led to an inevitable clash between the two institutions, as well as between the President and Prime Minister. Lessons must obviously be drawn from this experience.

The Federal system that had worked well throughout the colonial period and in the early years after independence thus came to an end.

16. What happened to Uganda after the overthrow of the system?

From that overthrow of the Federal system, Uganda as a nation state began its journey of steady decline for over two decades, with unprecedented terror, tyranny, lawlessness, infamy and rogue-state status around the world.

The National Resistance Movement resolved to fight this tyranny and went to the bush to return peace, democracy and prosperity to Uganda. This liberation war was fully and actively supported by the Kabaka and the people of Buganda, as well as very many people elsewhere in the Country. Many, in Luwero and elsewhere, lost their lives for this cause.

17. Are Traditional Leaders and Institutions dangerous to the development of the Country?

The NRM government allowed and facilitated the return of the traditional leaders, and the revival of traditional, cultural and social aspirations of the people of Uganda.

Although this was feared by many opponents as a return to the "dark ages", and all kinds of imaginary fears were predicted by the ever present prophets of doom, we have all seen that these traditional institutions have enabled Uganda to continue its peaceful journey of revival.

The traditional leaders have contributed tremendously to the unity, happiness and development of their various peoples in Uganda. Under federalism, their potential as mobilisers for development would even be greater.

Valuable lessons have obviously been learnt from the History of Uganda, and the 1966 Crisis. The people of Buganda, just as the Central Government, appreciate the great need to iron out the areas of controversy that led to the 1966 crisis and the collapse of federalism.

The people of Buganda, and we believe many other people from other parts of Uganda, would like the question of the federal system of Government to be revisited and re-introduced with necessary modifications to bring the system in line with today’s prevailing social, economic and other conditions and circumstances.

18. Does the Federal System of Government work anywhere in the world?

The federal system of Government is very popular and has worked successfully in many countries around the world. Good examples include: the United States of America, Canada, the Federal Republic of Germany, Australia, Brazil, India, Mexico, Switzerland, Ethiopia, Belgium, South Africa, Malaysia, Spain, Belgium and many more. These are among the most stable and prosperous countries in the world.

19. Does it work in developing countries? Does it work in Africa?

All the above examples show, the system works well for both developed countries, like the United States and Germany, and also for developing nations, like Brazil, Malaysia and India.

A celebrated African scholar, Professor Ali Mazrui lamented in February, 1998, in his paper entitled "The Nation", that "There is an American innovation which is missing in Africa, has not been promoted by the United States, and which may be far more relevant for liberal democracy in Africa in the 21st Century than many realise. The missing American agenda is federalism." He goes on to argue that Federalism is an important system of governance in this century that has been ignored or despised by African leaders.

20. Does the Federal System of Government work in countries with diverse ethnic groups?

Yes. As a matter of fact most of the countries where there is Federalism have very diverse peoples. A good example is India.

With a population in excess of 1 billion people, and a physical size of more than 50 times the total land area of Uganda, India is governed under a Federal System of government, and it has never had a military coup or an illegal overthrow of government in over 50 years of independence. India has in excess of 1,000 different ethnic groups, yet it is the world’s largest democracy. Brazil has over 600 million people and is the largest country in Latin America. Its conditions are not different from those of India shown above, yet federalism has thrived there too, and Brazil has had relatively stable governments.

21. Does the federal system work in small countries or countries with small populations?

Size is irrelevant. Even small countries like Switzerland and Belgium some of which are much smaller than Uganda and with even smaller populations, function with very effective federal systems.

22. Are there any Federal systems in the world based on ethnic origins, cultures, or languages?

Yes. A good African example is the state of Ethiopia, where the Federal regions are divided on the basis of ethnic origin.

Other examples in the world include the Federal Republic of Germany, Switzerland, and Canada. Even the United Kingdom, which has had a unitary government for centuries, has at last realised the merits and strength of federalism along cultural and ethnic lines. It has introduced some form of federal arrangement based on ethnic origins amongst the English, Welsh and Scots.

In Uganda, during the colonial period and under the 1962 Constitution, federalism was partially practiced on a regional basis with each region being viable and comprising people of similar languages, culture and traditions.

After years of investigation, interviewing and receiving peoples’ views, the Odoki Constitutional Commission complained and recommended (under recommendation 18.84 of its Report that "the demarcation of local administration boundaries has not always been logical or natural." It recommended that: "A fair system should take into consideration, among other things, common language, culture, geographical features, natural boundaries and economic viability."

This recommendation was adopted!

23. Does a federal system based on similar cultures, traditions, languages and beliefs work?

Yes, in Ethiopia, after the failed experiment of a unitary government that led to a bitter civil war, and the secession of Eritrea, The horn of Africa nation embarked on a bold experiment to introduce a new federal arrangement based on these standards.

Multi- lingual Switzerland, and the Federal Republic of Germany also have similar systems.

A federal system based on similarity of cultures, traditions, languages and ethnic origin, works and, in many cases, works even better than the case of a Federal system which joins diverse people, with no common cultures, languages, and traditions.

24. Why does the federal system of government work in countries where it is practiced?

The Federal System of Government works in these countries because the respective central governments recognise that the best people to understand and devise solutions to the problems of the various federal regions in such countries are the people of those regions themselves.

In India for example, the Central Government in New Delhi knows that the problems of Tamil Nadhu are probably different from those of Uttar Pradesh. It recognises the diversity of their problems and knows that it is not in the best position to decide for these people how their problems should be solved.

Even in the great United States of America, the different states in different regions have different problems. For example, states on the West Coast like California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas are very dry. Their annual concerns are earthquakes, fires that burn throughout these states, and droughts. Their biggest concerns are to build structures for irrigation, to build earthquake proof buildings, and improve fire-fighting techniques.

By contrast the states on the US East Coast like Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, or Rhode Island, do not care for droughts, fires or earthquakes. Instead, their concerns are long cold winters.

Southern states like Florida, and Louisiana are not afraid of winters, or fires. They worry about tornadoes and floods which destroy property worth hundreds of millions of dollars almost annually.

The Federal Government recognised early on that the USA was a collection of different states, with different peoples and different problems. The Federal Government does not purport to know how to solve all these different problems from Washington DC. It has recognised that the states themselves should be the best entities to deal with these problems.

25. Would the Federal System of Government work in Uganda?

Yes. It must be recognised that Uganda is made up various different groups of people with diverse backgrounds and cultures. We must also acknowledge a reality that the majority of our people are rural and unsophisticated. They live and practice their traditional ways of life.

It must also be acknowledged that, just like in the United States, different regions of Uganda have different problems. For example, the people of Soroti District have to contend with violent cattle rustling which results in terrible loss of life and property. Those in Gulu live under fear of frequent rebel raids. Eastern Uganda has had droughts. Karamoja and parts of Ankole badly need valley dams, Hoima has no tarmac roads while Kalangala wants a reliable ferry. The list of unique local needs and priorities that are often ignored by the centre, is endless.

The people in Soroti feel that cattle rustling is their priority problem, yet those in Gulu believe the rebel war is the most important thing. The decision makers in Kampala may not know how to solve these problems and may not see these problems as priority matters.

The people in these regions need to be given an opportunity to decide on their priorities.

26. Do the people of Uganda like the Federal System of Government?

The will of the people on the question of the federal system of Government was tested by the Odoki Constitutional Commission. The results of the views collected by that Commission showed that the Federal System of Government was very popular not only in Buganda, but also in Uganda as a whole.

Sixty Five Percent (65%) of the all the people of Uganda and Ninety Seven Percent (97%) of the people of Buganda wanted this system of Government.

The investigations, research and interviews carried out by the Buganda Constitutional Commission have confirmed that the views of the people of Buganda and Uganda on this matter have not changed.

27. Was the Federal system of Government implemented in the 1995 Constitution of Uganda?

No. The 1995 Constitution of Uganda instead introduced another system of Government known as Decentralisation. Under this system, Uganda is currently divided into 56 small districts, some with only a few thousand people.

28. What is Decentralisation and how is it different from the Federal System of Government?

Decentralisation: Under a Decentralised system of government, functions, power and responsibility is delegated to lower units. The delegated power or responsibility can be unilaterally un-delegated any time, either by administrative directive or by amendment of the laws or even of the Constitution itself.

The delegation and its extent are at the discretion of the Central Government and institutions of the day. In other words, the local governments and districts are really just agents of the Central Government. Under this system the delegated powers can be taken away anytime.

Federalism: The Federal system of government is a binding contract between the Central Government and the Federal states. Under that agreement, the parties agree on the extent of sharing responsibilities, powers, functions and resources. This agreement cannot be changed by one party without the consent of the other affected parties.

Under Federalism, decisions that affect particular regions are made at regional level by the particular region affected. The Central Government makes decisions that affect the entire country. This is not an agency relationship. Decisions affecting a region are decided upon directly by the people of that region (and not the Central Government).

In the Decentralised model, decisions are made by the Central Government and accountability is to the Central Government.

Under the Federal arrangements, the decision making process of day-to-day affairs that affect a particular region are made locally in that region, and regional accountability is to the people of that region.

29. How are the financial arrangements in the federal system?

Funds or percentages of funds to which a Federal state is entitled or which the Central Government is bound to give the Federal state are pre-determined and cannot be unilaterally changed. So are methods of raising revenue.

30. Is the federal system better than the Decentralisation system?

Yes. The Federal system between the Central Government and regional governments has numerous advantages over the current system of decentralisation. Decentralisation works well from the regional level downwards. However, it does not work effectively from the national or Central Government level to the village level.

31. How is the Federal System of Government better than Decentralisation?

The Uganda Decentralisation system is based on tiny un-viable political units. The District system is not a viable political, economic or social unit. It is too small to be capable of making useful strides in national development. This is over – decentralisation. Decentralisation should start at a regional level.

Today, Uganda has 56 districts, each with its own policies and administrative structures. But can the district of Kalangala for example, set up a university? Can Moroto district set up a regional referral hospital? Can a small unit like a district build an effective road? Any single district may not be able to mobilise the funding or manpower to undertake such necessary but large projects. Yet the Central Government cannot do all these things effectively for all the regions in Uganda.

The Federal system of Government proposes viable regional blocks, that consist of several districts where people of the same or similar problems, cultures, languages and traditional ways of life can devise regional strategies to solve regional problems. A region of districts with similar aspirations has the capacity to undertake such development projects within the region.

It is this kind of co-operation that is likely to lead to regional universities, regional road systems, and regional policies on matters like health, education, agriculture and economic development plans. After these regional plans and policies have been developed, then decentralisation can be applied at the regional level to implement them.

A federal system of government allows the people to share with the central government the responsibility of planning, executing and reviewing development proposals. Under the decentralisation system, all planning, and budgeting is the responsibility of the Central Government and accountability goes to the Central Government. For example, under the current Decentralised system, the people of West Nile region do not participate in the decision making process of the Ministry of Finance. The Minister of Finance, sitting in Kampala, will dictate to the people of West Nile Region how much money they will get in Financial Year X, and how they are going to spend it, and they must account for it to him.

Under the Federal model, the regions themselves decide these affairs. The Federal model brings the decision making process closer to the people. Supposing the people of West Nile region produce tobacco worth Shs. 90 billion a year. All this money goes to the Central Government. Then the Central Government, sitting in Kampala, not only decides that Shs. 15 billion should go back to West Nile, but also decides on how it should be spent. How can a minister, and his bureaucrats, sitting in Kampala realistically know what the people in West Nile actually want? Is it a surprise that in the year 2001, West Nile region does not have electricity? Without electricity, how is it expected to build factories and industries so that it can create employment and generate wealth?

In this example, the decentralisation system is flawed on two fronts. First, it depends on the whim of the minister in Kampala, whether this year they will get back, Shs. 2, 5, or 10 billion, irrespective of what they produce. Under the federal arrangement, the people will be entitled to a minimum pre-agreed percentage, which will then be topped up by the equalisation grants discussed below.

The second flaw with decentralisation is that the Central Government decides what this money should be used on. If the people of West Nile had been allowed to decide on the priority of their expenditure, they would now probably have electricity and factories. West Nile is but one example of what is true to most of Uganda’s regions. The Central Government is too far removed from the villages to be able to make effective and proper decisions for every corner of the country on how money should be spent. The regional governments under the federal system are closer to the people and can make more informed judgments.

Under decentralisation, virtually all appointments to regional jobs (apart from locally elected representatives) are made in Kampala. Under the Federal system appointments are made locally by the region, giving a chance to local people to serve their regions, and accountability is done by local people to the local region itself. This has potential for reducing corruption.

The Federal system of Government devolves seats of power and brings them closer to the people and minimises undue dependence on the Central Government for every aspect of development. Since the abolition of the Federal system of government in Uganda, the country has been engaged in constant struggles for power. In a space of only 40 years, we have had no less than six violent overthrows of governments and endless wars. This is because the only seat of power in the country is in Kampala. We have also seen politics of cronyism, with changing regimes and leaders surrounded by "yes men" seeking political favours. Under the Federal model, some of the power base will shift to regional levels and is likely to reduce on the pressures our history has shown of people fighting for power and jobs in the Central Government.

Professor Ali Mazrui, in his presentation, "The Nation" in February 1998, argues strongly that the federal system of government is a solution to ethnic problems of African countries and its denial has caused plenty of bloodshed. He writes:

"What has been remarkable since independence has been, loosely, Africa’s reluctance to seriously consider federal as a solution to its tumultuous ethnic upheavals…. Indeed, Africa worked itself up into a condition of acute psychological denial. Loyalty to tribe was regarded as political pathology … ignoring the salience of ethnic loyalties has cost Africa three to four million lives in civil conflicts since independence. On the other hand, some of the countries which have attempted to make concessions to those loyalties have reduced risks."

Big federal regional blocks have a stabilising and balancing influence over a potentially despotic Central Government. Constitutional review should not be based on personalities or the government of the day. The fact that government today may be occupied by decent leadership should not blind us to the fact that some day there may be a possibility of a corrupt or despotic leadership or a decidedly anti-people dictator. This is what we should guard against. We neither should wait for this to happen and then act nor should we be amending the Constitution every five years. We should give it staying power. A federal arrangement is one way of ensuring this.

Unlike the system of fragmented decentralisation, the regional Federal system of government takes advantage of the social and cultural factors that bring people together in particular regions of the country to achieve uniform regional development. Recognising these systems and taking advantage of them can lead to national development more effectively and efficiently on a regional basis than can the arbitrary unviable district units set up under decentralisation.

The Federal System can be compared to the growth of radio in Uganda. For several decades, Radio Uganda was the only radio station in the Country. As is usually the case in Uganda when something new is suggested, "stakeholders" in the status quo and among prophets of doom loudly expressed fears that private radio stations would jeopardise national security and even aid and abet coup plotters! At the same time, many Ugandans often complained that issues they cared about were not adequately covered by Radio Uganda. Many longed for programmes in their local languages.

Since the advent of FM Stations in late 1992, there has never been a coup or the threat of one. Instead, FM stations have helped the different peoples of Uganda to have their unique cultures to be handled in their own languages and in their own regions. That helps explain the tremendous growth and popularity of FM Stations around the country (now over 40).

Federalism is like the FM stations, where today virtually each area has an FM station in its local language. Everyone is happy in diversity and plenty.

Federalism lends stability to the central government: Previously, a coup plotter, who only had to take over Radio Uganda in order to take over government, would now find it very difficult to convince each one of the forty FM stations to carry his message. The same goes for convincing all regional governments to lend support in case of a coup attempt.

The Federal system allows the various people of Uganda to celebrate their diversity under a united Government. The various ethnic groups in Uganda each have their unique customs and traditions. A sound nation and society can only be built on the preservation of our respective cultures, instead of eroding them, and leaving a vacuum. Regional federation of similar people of Uganda will advance our cultural heritage and will take advantage of our traditional systems of government and cultures to achieve development. This will enable us to develop our history, languages, regional identities, morality, traditions, and character among our people.

32 Does Buganda want to return to the 1962 Federal system?

No. A Federal system has to be based upon the peculiar, social and economic circumstances pertaining to the particular country. The times and development of the societies also make a difference. A federal system that was suitable in 1962 certainly needs modifications to make it work in the year 2000. This is because every federal system has to be adjusted to meet the times. Other countries do this by periodic amendment of the Constitution, but the amendment has to be agreed upon by all the affected parties.

33. What were some of the weaknesses of the 1962 Federal Arrangement?

An example of necessary amendments to the 1962 Federal Arrangement is the scope of its application. Under the 1962 arrangement, federal status was only granted to the Kingdom states of Uganda and even these kingdoms had varying federal rights. The rest of Uganda had a unitary system. This was a recipe for envy, possible hatred and created an imbalance that cannot be sustained today. Every region in Uganda should have the right to pursue federal status and every federal region of Uganda should enjoy the same rights and privileges as the other federal regions in the country.

34. What type of Federal System Does Buganda want to see implemented?

A federal system of government should divide the country into regions, with the division taking into account the principle that people of the same or similar traditions, cultures, languages and ways of life are put together to take into account and take advantage of their traditional systems of leadership, mobilisation and way of life for development. In the case of the people of Buganda, the districts of Buganda would form the federal Kingdom of Buganda under a non- political Kabaka.

In regions where a Federal system of government based upon similar languages, cultures and traditions is not feasible, the people of those regions should be free to come up with their own federal system of governance in accordance to their needs and circumstances.

Buganda objects to the Charter and Charter arrangements because they are just an extension to the ineffective decentralised system.

35. Must every part of Uganda have a federal system of government?

Because we believe that the federal arrangement is the best way for all parts of Uganda to develop, all of Uganda should be governed under a federal arrangement. In the event that a region does not desire federal status or desires a unitary system of government with the Central Government, that region should have the right to pursue that unitary system for itself, while the rest of the country that desires federal arrangements can pursue such federal arrangements. This is an accepted practice. Some federal and quasi-federal states in the world have this type of system. For example the United Kingdom has a unitary system over all areas of England yet at the same time, it has devolved a semi-federal system to the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who on the basis of their ethnic differences desire to have self governance, yet at the same time are part of the United Kingdom. India too has some areas (e.g. Jamur and Kashmir) administered directly by the Central Government under a unitary system within the federal arrangement for the rest of the country and this has worked well.

This compromise was also reflected in the Munster Commission of 1961 that recommended Federal government for parts of Uganda and a unitary system for the other regions, which recommendation was taken up in the 1962 Constitution.

This scenario would be different from the 1962 situation in that we propose that provisions would be made in the Constitution to permit areas which do not immediately opt for the federal system to join at anytime. Unlike under the 1962 Constitution, they would not be locked out forever.

Traditional leaders under any federal system would be non-political and would not exercise executive authority in the region. In the case of Buganda, the Kabaka of Buganda would be a constitutional monarch over the people of Buganda.

There would be national parliament and executive that would establish national legislative and executive policy for the country. But the Federal regions would also establish federal legislative and executive units to legislate, implement and decide on regional matters affecting each particular region.

Like in all countries where the Federal system of government prevails, the rights of the Federal States should be entrenched in both Federal and National constitutions, with sufficient safeguards requiring a consensus of two-third’s majority in the federal and national assemblies before any alteration of these rights can be done.

36. Doesn’t the federal system of government make some productive regions richer and prosperous, while leaving others backward?

No. Federalism is supposed to achieve quite the opposite. Under a federal system, the more prosperous regions give part of their incomes to the other regions, so that a more balanced development of the whole country can ensue.

Under the federal system, taxes collected in the various federal regions of the country would be divided into three proportions. For example, 30% could be given to the Federal state to address the needs of the Federal Region, 30% could go the Central Government to take care of the Federal Government’s responsibilities, and 40% could go the equalisation grants fund.

In almost every country where a federal system of government exists, there is a system of "equalisation grants" to address regional imbalance. These grants are given by the Central Government and onward to regions of Uganda that are behind other regions. For example today, if Uganda was divided into federal regions, some regions would be more advanced than other regions. The Central Government would then give the equalisation grants collected from all the regions to the less developed regions to ensure more balanced development.

The equalisation grants are also intended to be given to regions to make the responsibilities of the region commensurate to the funds given.

The concept of equalisation grants in Uganda is neither unfair nor new. It is already being used by the Central Government today.

37. Does a federal system of government promote tribalism?

No. Recognising different traditions and cultures does not mean that people are being divided along tribal lines. It is simply recognising the rich variety of cultures and traditions in a society. Every Ugandan should be free to live, work or settle anywhere in Uganda, under the federal system.

As a celebrated scholar noted:

"Africa has cornered itself into rejecting ethnicity as an organising concept in the process of nation-building. The challenge then is whether it is possible to reverse the mindset, so that ethnic groups which are African realities, could be seen in reverse light as resources or building blocks that can provide a sound foundation for a sustainable political and socio-economic development from within."

For example, the national parliament of Uganda is composed of representatives of different regions. While each representative is there to represent and advance the views of that individual’s particular constituency, all representatives together represent the whole nation of Uganda. It cannot be said that the parliamentarians are sectarian because they represent individual possibly ethnic constituencies.

Another example can be drawn from the Baganda clans: The Baganda are divided into fifty-two clans. Each clan is different from the other fifty-one. It has different customs, different taboos, different names, different leadership and different ancestral grounds and origin. These divisions can be misunderstood to mean that the Baganda are a divided people. Every year these different clans engage in fierce competition against each other in areas of sports, social and traditional duties to the Kingdom. Their differences and these competitions do not divide them. Rather it makes them appreciate their diversity. The reality is that just because people like their clan, does not mean that they do not like their being Baganda. It is the combination of these various clans that forms the people known as Baganda. Similarly an Acholi is entitled to be proud of his heritage. That should not make him less Ugandan. The ability to attain one’s cultural and traditional aspirations within a nation is the ultimate goal. Similarly, the appreciation of one’s culture does not make the person like his nationality any less. In fact, like the clan example above, it makes him like it more.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain is made up of three major ethnic groups: the English, the Scots and the Welsh. The country is virtually divided into regions based on these ethnic groups. Nevertheless, it would be an unfair criticism to call this tribalism. The Scots love their heritage, but they also love to be part of the United Kingdom, as do the English and Welsh.

38. Does Federalism mean "Obugabe-ism" in Ankole?

Federalism should not be confused with Monarchism. The people of Ankole would get to choose the type of federal arrangements that would work well in Ankole.

This would not only be true for Ankole alone, but for the whole of Uganda, including Buganda.

39. What about people of different cultures who live or work in areas where one culture is dominant?

The interests of these people would be catered for. Whereas preservation of various cultures is a primary consideration, the rights of such people must be respected and protected by the regional constitutions. This in Uganda is not an issue, especially in Buganda. Buganda believes and has always believed in the full participation of all people within the region. For example, even in the 1960’s Buganda elected several non–Baganda to represent it in National Assembly. Examples include: Edward Simpson (an English man), Dr. Kununka ( a Munyoro), Daudi Ochieng ( an Acholi), Mrs. Visram ( an Asian also known as Namubiru) and many more. Even in the current Parliament, Buganda is one of the few regions represented by people who are not ethnically of that region.

After 1993, Buganda Government started some schools, including Lubiri Secondary School located right in Kabaka’s Palace. None of these schools are exclusively attended by Baganda children. Over 30% of the current enrolment are non-Baganda children from within and outside Buganda. The Kabaka Foundation, an educational fund, contributed to mostly by people from Buganda, is currently giving education scholarships for students in Buganda, over 27% of whom are non-Baganda. The Buganda Land Board, which administers the land returned to the Kabaka in 1993, has granted several leases on this land to various Ugandans, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds. As a matter of fact, 40% of the leases granted by the Land Board on Kabaka’s returned land in the Kampala area are to non-Baganda. This is inspite of the original imaginary fears that retuning Kabaka’s land would mean sending non-Baganda or even Baganda off it. This is, and has always been and will always be, the Buganda spirit.

It is also important to remember that the services or facilities that the Federal system bring to any particular region benefit everyone in that region irrespective of their ethnic origin. For example, the roads, schools, and hospitals constructed would benefit all users and not just the people of that region.

Before the restoration of kingdom in Buganda, all kinds of imaginary fears were expressed. For example that with the return of the Kabaka, non–Baganda were going to be expelled from Buganda, or that every body was going to be forced to kneel before the Kabaka. As time has shown, all these were unfounded. Similar unfounded fears have been and will be expressed in the case of federalism.

40. What would be the rights of people who do not belong to a particular ethnic group within a federal region made up of different ethnic groups?

The National Constitution of Uganda does and should guarantee the equality of all people regardless of ethnic origin in any part of Uganda. The people of Buganda strongly believe in this standard.

For example, residents of Kampala who are not Baganda cannot and have never been evicted, or denied any right they are by law entitled to, on the basis that they are not Baganda. Similar standards should be applied to all other parts of Uganda.

There can be no unconstitutional restrictions on the right to purchase, own or use property, or the right of movement in and out of any region, or the right of employment, or the right to pursue any legitimate objectives in any region of Uganda based on ethnic origin.

Just like the United Kingdom does not accord English people in London special rights over the Welsh or Scots, there can be no discrimination of any kind, by any group of people, from any part of the Country on the basis of ethnic origin.

Even in the 1960’s when Uganda was a federal state, all Ugandans enjoyed the same rights and privileges in Kampala, or in any federal state of Uganda, regardless of their ethnic origins.

41. How do we address the regional imbalances?

The people of Buganda recognise and appreciate that several areas of Uganda have been devastated or neglected for several decades. As a result, the levels of development in these areas fall far behind other areas.

As already stated, the system of equalisation grants is designed to address the current existing imbalances.

In addition, it should firmly be reiterated that the people of Buganda fully support the progressive implementation of an affirmative action plan designed to address current regional imbalances, to ensure that the various federal regions of the country enjoy similar standards of development.

42. Where would the home of the Central Government be?

The Central Government should have the right to have offices and premises in all the federal regions of Uganda. The current major offices of the Central Government are located in Kampala District. These offices should remain.

There should also be appropriate provisions in the National Constitution to ensure that no regional government has the right to evict the Central Government from any region of Uganda.

43. What is the current status of Kampala District?

The 1995 Constitution provides that Kampala District is not part of Buganda.

44. What is the importance of the Kampala district to the people of Buganda?

Kampala District consists of the most important and most cherished traditional and cultural sites, which actually make Buganda. Among these are: the Kasubi Tombs where several Buganda kings are entombed; Lubiri, Kabaka’s traditional official residence; Bulange, the seat of Buganda administration; the Butikkiro; Kabaka’s Lake, an important traditional site; Mujaguzo Palace at Kabowa; Kalinda Well an important traditional water fountain for the Kabaka and several traditional functions in Buganda. There are other several important traditional sites in Kampala.

45. Why should Kampala district be part of Buganda?

The current constitution omitted to include Kampala district among the districts that make up the Kingdom of Buganda. To omit the Kingdom’s most important and sacred traditional ancestral institutional sites, is viewed by Baganda as illogical, unfair and an unnecessary humiliation and mockery of their culture and disrespect for their cultural institutions. Some regard it as occupation.

Several Central Government institutions such as State Houses and Lodges, Military Barracks, Research Centres, airports are situated in various areas in Buganda and the rest of Uganda. None of these have had to be declared to be outside their traditional Districts. We propose that Kampala should be part of Buganda as it has always been, and the Capital and other Central Government institutions should continue to be in Kampala like they continue to be in all other areas of Buganda and Uganda.

46. How would decentralisation co-exist with a federal system of government?

Federalism does not exclude or negate Decentralisation. The two must co-exist. In all countries where there is a federal system, there is also a decentralisation system. The federal system is only between the central government and the regional government. The arrangement between the region and the village level is a decentralised system.

Decentralisation is a system which takes services down to the people. It cannot be left out or ignored. It is an effective local government system under federal regional governments. All federal systems around the world also have a decentralisation system under the federal system. Even Uganda’s history with federalism bears this out clearly. From 1900, although Buganda was a Federal state, its local administration was done through a system of decentralisation. This was crystallised and is reflected in the Buganda Local Government Councils Law, 1965, which is in many respects similar to our current Local Government Statute, and the Great Lukiiko (Election of Representatives) Law, 1953, of the Kingdom of the time that provided for election of local government officials in Buganda. The Masaza system down to Batongole is a decentralised system.

Decentralisation becomes a viable system of local government administration at the regional level and co-exists effectively with federalism in Uganda.

The introduction of the Federal system of government will not significantly alter the current decentralisation system. Districts or Masaza or by whatever names called, will continue with virtually the same rights and responsibilities except that they will no longer be directly controlled by the Central Government but by their respective regional governments.

Under the Federal system of government, MPs representing Districts in the National Parliament will continue to do so. It does not have to affect the LC system or LC leaders. Parliament will still be able to create new districts. The Federal system arrangement is only there to enhance development based on ECONOMICALLY VIABLE units. It is not about disenfranchising anyone.

Conclusion on federalism:

In conclusion, we need to reiterate the following:

  1. The Federal system of government is good for increased productivity, development, prosperity and wealth for all Ugandans.
  2. The system is not a Buganda issue alone. Federalism is for the benefit of all Ugandans.
  3. The system ensures that local people have a say in how they should be governed. This minimises chances of terrorism, rebel activity and discontent.
  4. The system provides employment at regional levels, with decisions of who to employ being made locally by the people of the area.
  5. The system is desired by the majority of the people in Buganda and in Uganda as a whole.

The basic principle that emerges from this Report is that different regions, peoples, cultures and groups of people have competing priorities. The people most affected by a particular problem are the best positioned to devise and implement strategies to solve them within a national constitutional framework. This accelerates development, good governance and contentment.

This is basically what federalism is all about. It is good for Uganda.


The 9,000 square miles of land taken from Buganda.

The ownership and management of the 9,000 sq. miles should revert to the Kingdom of Buganda.

The 9,000 square miles of land had been entrusted to the crown Government for protection and development, under the 1900 Agreement. It was returned to the Kingdom of Buganda at Independence. It was forcefully taken over after 1966. Just like expropriated properties of Asians and traditional leaders have been returned and it is the well established Government policy that such properties should be returned, this land should be returned to the Kingdom of Buganda.

Returning it to Buganda does not mean affecting any existing or future rights of lawful owners or occupants, any more than the return of Kabaka’s land in 1993 affected any legitimate owners or occupants. The return of the 9,000 square miles does not mean evictions, or displacements of people occupying parts of this land. All people, Baganda and non-Baganda will continue to enjoy all their rights on that land and no one will be victimised. A good example of this is the land which was returned to the Kabaka eight years ago. No one has ever been evicted off it on account of ethnic origins. On the contrary, 40% of the leases granted in Kampala area by the Buganda Land Board (which administers it on behalf of the Kabaka) are to non-Baganda.

The Land Act, 1998.

The Constitution of Uganda in 1995 introduced the concepts of "bonafide occupants" and "lawful occupants" of land and security of occupancy. The Constitution further provided that Parliament shall enact a law to give meaning to these terms. The law that resulted was the Land Act, 1998.

The Land Act, 1998 needs to be repealed and its aims and objectives should be revisited to ensure that it adheres to well-established principles of Constitutional Law and does not violate Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. In enforcing the rights of Bonafide and lawful occupants as set out in the Constitution, it tramples on the constitutional fundamental rights and freedoms of landowners.

When the Land Act automatically creates tenancies, and takes away the land owner’s right to negotiate fair tenancy terms; when it restricts the land owner’s right to use the land; when it restricts the rights of a title holder to transfer, pledge or mortgage land; it is taking away the essence of ownership, and is interfering with the property rights of the land owners, which is unconstitutional.

This unconstitutional 1998 Land Act deprived land owners who had invested in land of their property without complying with the provisions of Article 26(2) of the 1995 Constitution which provides as follows:

"No person shall be compulsorily deprived of property or any interest or right over property of any description except where the following conditions are satisfied-

        1. the taking of possession or acquisition is necessary for public use or in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health: and
        2. the compulsory taking of possession or acquisition of property is made under a law which makes provision for-
          1. prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation, prior to the taking of possession or acquisition of the property; and
          2. a right of access to a court of law by any person who has an interest or right of property."

The 1998 Land Act deprived land owners many of whom had invested their savings into land were suddenly deprived of their interest and right in their land for an inadequate compensation of Shs. 1,000 per year not paid prior to its being taken, and the taking was not necessary for "public use or in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health"

The Land Act also imposed the above paltry fee irrespective of the size, location or use of the land. This does not make economic sense at all.

This issue is very important to the people of Buganda, because it directly affects the land returned to the Kabaka under the "Ebyaffe" statute in 1993. Although on paper, the Kabaka holds 350 square miles of land which were returned to him, in actual fact, he cannot use this land, nor does he benefit from it. The issue does not affect the Kabaka alone. It also affects the people of Buganda and Uganda, whether they are mailo or leaseholders. Since the early 1920s, the safest form of investment for an ordinary Muganda has always been land. Land is a valuable and sacred asset in Buganda, hence: Ssabataka, Bataka, Butaka and so on.

Objection to the extremely unfair rent of Shs 1,000/= irrespective of size or location or economic activity on the land is not in disregard of tenants’ or occupants’ rights. Throughout our history, the Busuulu and Envujjo laws found an appropriate compromise between landowners and tenants. These laws gave sufficient protections to tenants and squatters, while at the same time giving protection to the landlord. In this manner a viable economic relationship between the two groups emerged. The current Land Act upset these relationships and is not workable.

It is possible to achieve the public interest objectives of the Land Act in other manners that do not violate fundamental freedoms and property rights guaranteed under the Constitution. The Constitution needs to be revisited on the questions of "bonafide" and "lawful occupants" having regard to the rights of landholders. If the Constitution clarifies the issue, then the Land Act can be adjusted accordingly. The issue of the Land Act is raised here because it emanates from the above constitutional provisions.


Tax Exemption for Traditional Leaders: The Kabaka and other traditional leaders should be exempted from paying tax in recognition of their developmental, mobilising, cultural and leadership roles. This had been the position in 1993 when these institutions were restored. The law restoring the traditional institutions also provided that they should be exempt from taxation. Through an inadvertent omission, when the provisions relating to restoration of the traditional institutions were imported into the 1995 Constitution, the provisions relating to tax exemption were repealed with the rest of the 1993 Statute.

Immunity from Criminal Prosecution: The traditional Leaders should also be exempted from criminal prosecution. This is the position in many countries such as Ghana, where Traditional Leaders similar to ours, exist.

Protocol: The people of a particular area hold their traditional Leader in high esteem. They therefore view it as a humiliation that the Traditional Leader should be relegated to the current low protocol ranking on state functions taking place in his area. We propose that the Traditional Leader in whose area a state function is held should take precedence over all people except the President and Vice President. This was the position under the 1962 Constitution and was respected by all Ugandans.


1. This Report is not exhaustive, but it addresses the core issues of concern to the people of Buganda. Separate and individual recommendations may and will be made on other issues, which the people in Buganda would like to be reviewed in this Constitutional review process.

At the Buganda Government level, there will be a follow up representation on the above issues later in the year or early next year. The presentation will be more detailed and will have more specific recommendations. In the meantime, we would be happy to provide more details and to answer questions.

2. This report is a result of recommendations made by the Buganda Constitutional Review Commission after interviewing a variety of people from Buganda and outside, and receiving representations from various people within and outside Uganda.

3. It was presented and passed by the Buganda Cabinet. It is to be presented and debated by the Abataka Ab’Obusolya (Heads of Buganda Clans) and the Buganda Caucus of National Parliament of Uganda.

Finally it was presented to a session of the Buganda Lukiiko, sitting on the 24th of September 2001, which was attended by various Princes and Princesses of Buganda, Members of Parliament representing the Districts of Buganda, Religious leaders, LC Chairpersons from the districts of Buganda, and various eminent people from Buganda.

After this document has been edited and approved, it will be published into booklets in both English and Luganda, and will be distributed to the general public to enable them to understand some of the issues that the Kingdom of Buganda would like to present to the Uganda Constitutional Review Commission.


Joseph G. Mulwanyammuli Ssemwogerere
Katikkiro Of Buganda
Head Of The Government
The Kingdom Of Buganda

John W. Katende
Attorney General / Minister Of Justice And Strategic Planning,
Chairman Of The Buganda Constitutional Commission
The Kingdom Of Buganda

Charles Peter Mayiga
Minister Of Youth And Cabinet Affairs,
Secretary To The Buganda Constitutional Commission
The Kingdom Of Buganda

Sheikh Ali Kulumba
Speaker Of The Lukiiko
The Kingdom Of Buganda

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