By Watchdog reporter
The Basoga in the diaspora have rejected Kyabazinga William Gabula’s appointment as Ambassador for Special duties in the office of the president.
On the 27th of January, 2017, a list of new appointments to and changes in Uganda’s various Foreign and diplomatic service portfolios was published and circulated by social media sites and was later carried by the mainstream electronic and print press.
Among the appointees was His Royal Highness William Nadiope Gabula IV, the reigning Kyabazinga of Busoga Kingdom.
According to the statement dated 31, January, 2017 issued by the Basoga in the diaspora, the general public has discussed little else since. Debate has centred around two major fault lines:
i) The constitutionality, and by extension, the legality of the appointment of the Kyabazinga of Busoga by President Yoweri Museveni of the Republic of Uganda in light of Article 246 (3) (e);
ii) A broad range of implications that the said appointment has had and will have on the Institution of the Kyabazinga.
It has also emerged that arguments have been raised in support of the impugned appointment, to the effect that since His Royal Highness Gabula IV has attained postgraduate academic qualifications, is purportedly not engaged in gainful employment or service and is facing financial hardship, he should, on that account, accept the said appointment.
Following an elaborate consultative process that has, over the past few days sought the opinions of our fellow Basoga, both those resident in Uganda and in the Diaspora, we wish to respond by stating the considered position for the benefit of the general public, relevant authorities, our King, William Nadiope Gabula IV and his Cabinet.
From the outset, we would like to underscore the fact that the Institution of the Kyabazinga transcends the individual holder and the physical attributes that that office or position comes with. As such, the Kyabazinga is a living embodiment of the centuries-old nation of Busoga, her indelible norms, values and traditions, socioeconomic and political organisation.
As is the case with most of the major ethnic groupings, the nation of Busoga predates the country of Uganda by over one hundred and twenty years. The disruptive effects of colonialism should not and cannot erase the significance of our respective heritage and traditions as the Peoples of present-day Uganda. The Kyabazinga is the highest expression of the nation of Busoga both as a cultural entity and as a political institution.
In no uncertain terms, we wish to state that the idea that a commoner—regardless of the position s/he holds in Uganda—can purport to appoint a royal—more so a King—is insulting, provocative, demeaning, presumptuous, unsettling and disingenuous! It is condemnable and must altogether be firmly resisted. A President of a country cannot appoint a King.
This then leads us to the second point we would like to put across. We take unreserved cognizance of the fact that the jurisdiction of the Republic of Uganda extends to Busoga and surrounding nations. In that regard, we recognize the 1995 Constitution of Uganda and the Laws thereof. Specifically, we are alive to the provisions of Chapter Sixteen. Article 246 (3) (e) thereof stipulates to the effect that a person shall not, while remaining a traditional leader or cultural leader, join or participate in partisan politics.
The subsequent provision (f) states unequivocally that: “a traditional leader or cultural leader shall not have any administrative, legislative or executive powers of Government or local government.” It is crucial to refer to a provision under Chapter Seven which creates and confers the Executive with a clear mandate regarding what it can and cannot do. Article 122 (1) thereof states that “The President may, with the approval of Parliament, appoint Ambassadors and Heads of Diplomatic missions.”
Read together and as a whole, two obvious conclusions can be drawn, without contention. First, the appointment is an Executive appointment. It confers executive powers. His Royal Highness William Nadiope Gabula IV as a cultural leader is constitutionally precluded from occupying an office or holding powers of any administrative, legislative or executive nature.
This conflict cannot be resolved in favour of the impugned appointment because Article 2 expressly states that: “This Constitution is the supreme law of Uganda and shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout Uganda.” All persons and authorities are commanded to submit themselves to the Constitution. His Royal Highness the Kyabazinga is not outside the ambit of the Constitution. He is bound. This is contrary to (uninformed) talk that has been doing the rounds suggesting that the Kyabazinga has the latitude to either accept or decline the appointment. He does not have an option but to conform to the supreme law of Uganda and decline the incurably defective appointment. Alternatively, and in the unfortunate even that he accedes to the appointment, he cannot continue serving as our Kyabazinga.
At any rate, the Kyabazinga is the King of all Basoga yet this appointment, coming in a multiparty dispensation under which there can only be one incumbent political party at a time, runs the risk of reducing the esteemed Institution of the Kyabazinga into the divisive arena of partisan political contestation.
Related to matters legal, we have heard about the illustrious legal action by one of our own, Mr. Asuman Basalirwa, who has taken the matter to Court, seeking to challenge the impugned appointment. This is a welcome development.
We must at this point briefly point out and inquire into the multiple conflicts of interest that this appointment places both the institution and person of the Kyabazinga into:- Can the King of Busoga hold a partisan political appointment in the Executive branch of the central government and be expected to simultaneously manage the affairs of his Kingdom without encountering incompatible calls of duty?
– What are the cultural, social and political implications of the King of Busoga submitting a report or taking work-related instructions from the President of Uganda?
– How will an institution like the Parliament of Uganda which possesses the constitutional mandate to exercise checks and balances against the Executive call His Royal Highness William Nadiope Gabula IV before an accountability committee for example to submit a narrative or financial report, especially where a significant number of Members of Parliament are already his subjects as Basoga?
– Finally but by no means the least, what will happen to the royalty, dignity and esteem that we the Basoga place in our Kyabazinga and the Kingdom when the President decides to revoke the said appointment?
Having resolved the legal question, we would like to emphasize a few points and offer some clarifications regarding the sanctity of the Office of the Kyabazinga of Busoga.
This appointment has definitely not occurred in a vacuum; it has been a culmination of various actions, omissions and solicitations on the part of some of the lazy, incompetent, esoteric, selfish, shameless and corrupt leaders of the Kingdom who have failed in their role of being a robust support mechanism for the Kyabazinga. Instead they have used their positions to solicit for personal favours and been part of shameless acts of begging in the name of the Kyabazinga. Let all Ugandans and the global public know that these people do not represent us the Basoga.
We have established that contrary to emerging arguments that have been advanced towards defining the impugned appointment of the Kyabazinga of Busoga as Ambassador for Special Duties in the Office of the President as being one and the same with an appointment as a Goodwill Ambassador, the appointment in question is executive in nature and cannot be conflated with that of a Goodwill Ambassador. A Goodwill Ambassador is one whose name and pedigree are lent towards supporting a given cause or campaign and for which no remuneration or form of pay (except coverage of travel and related expenses) is given. In any case, one cannot be an Ambassador for Special Duties in the Office of the President (a paid job) and at the same time be a Goodwill Ambassador. This is a misguided afterthought whose designs are not tenable.
We also find the argument regarding the dire financial position of the Kyabazinga as a person insufficient justification for this appointment. In the same vein, we find the argument that fronts the Kyabazinga’s academic qualifications as further justification for him to take the appointment as an under-utilisation of a person of His Royal Highness Gabula IV’s stature. There is a lot more that he can do without having to be in the service of the President.
Our view and 4 understanding of education is not limited to the narrow objectives of employment and earning—education to us is a much more powerful tool whose potential can be harnessed to champion the progress of a given society, over and above an individual’s personal wellbeing and comfort. We will, in our conclusion outline our propositions as to how the Kyabazinga’s academic qualifications can be put to more resourceful purposes.
Conclusion and Way Forward
Towards shoring up and marshalling the abundant wealth of natural, human and other resources at His Royal Highness’s disposal throughout the length and breadth of Busoga, we have communicated a raft of feasible development projects ranging from commercial ventures to turnkey investments that are intended to restore Busoga’s glory as an industrial powerhouse and food basket of our country Uganda. Basoga from across the world are willing and have already began making contributions of a moral, technical and financial kind. We encourage more Basogato join this effort.
We have heard about an initiative that has been named Kyabazinga Welfare Fund (KWF); from what we gather, it is intended to rally all Basoga in Uganda and beyond as well as the general public to make donations through Mobile Money services to a phone number that shall be made announced. The initiators of this idea intend to give His Royal Highness access to the Mobile Money account so as to enable him meet whatever personal and related needs he may have. We support this and any other ingenious ideas that the people of Busoga may have.
In fact, once the details of this Kyabazinga Welfare Fund are divulged, we would like to put our full support behind it with our own contributions. We urge all Basoga to contribute generously and support this noble cause. This will also go a long way to bring us the subjects closer to our Kyabazinga and also guard the dignity of our identity as Basoga.
Finally, we are calling upon the Executive of Abasoga Nseete to convene, as soon as is practically possible, an urgent meeting of the Concerned Basoga in Uganda to further discuss this issue so as to help bridge the impasse that has been created between the People and the Institution at Igenge.
We are as invested in the sanctity of our Kingdom Busoga as we are about the mutual respect, coexistence with and the peace and stability of our shared home and country Uganda.
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