On April 7, 2017, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi’s unannounced trip to President Museveni’s official home in Entebbe set off a storm of press and social media claims and theories about the reasons behind the event. Museveni pulled the trigger when he posted a collection of photos taken during the visit on his personal Facebook page, accompanied by a vague post: “I thank Kabaka Mutebi, in company of Katikkiro Mayiga and Prince David Wasajja, for paying a courtesy call on me today at State House, Entebbe.”
On April 12, 2017 BugandaWatch received a “letter to the editor” email from one of its loyal readers presenting his personal analysis and theory as to why the meeting took place. The writer, Mr. Bill Makanga (clan name), is a financial analyst based diaspora. He asked that his regular surname not be used for security reasons. We reproduce Makanga’s letter below some editing:
Thank you for the your educative stories about Buganda issues. At first i was skeptical even thinking you were M7 agents. But I kept visiting the site (to see how the you – the enemy think). Now I am 100% believe that your only agenda is Buganda.Getting to the point. Please kindly consider my opinion letter on the reasons behind Kabaka Mutebi’s forced trip to see M7 for publication, if it meets your standards.
Cheers, Bill (use Bill Makanga).
Dear BW Editor,
I have seen many theories on social media about why Ssabasajja Kabaka went to talk to president Yoweri Museveni of Uganda on 7th April 2017. Some spoke about the failed Uganda economy, others mentioned Stella Nyanzi, Besigye/Museveni Negotiations, Nambooze, , MOU, Mayiga’s contract, Ettofaali and so on.
Any one or combination of the theories I have seen on Facebook could be true. However, I think that it is important to understand that when it comes to Buganda, Museveni is concerned only by one thing, proving his point that, “Obote made a mistake when he removed the Kabaka by force, when he could have used Baganda themselves”. And he believes that it will happen when Baganda get poor enough.
In my place of work we have an inside joke that “There is no money like money is poverty”. Meaning that it is easy to make a lot of money where there is a lot of poverty. Because poor hungry people value the next meal more than anything else. Unfortunately this is what Museveni has done to Baganda, from way back in 1986 when he chopped three zeros off all bank balances, to now when Salim Saleh runs an office to monitor and sabotage any private business in banking, international trade or security if the principals are sophisticated (read “suspicious”) Baganda with international connections.
Knowing both Museveni’s obsession with proving Obote wrong and facts about the situation in Buganda (see below), I studied the state house photos and decided concluded on a theory is that each side was talking about different things.
It is impossible to know the topics that Kabaka Mutebi or the Katikkiro believed to be discussing. However, one can reasonably expect that they would be things like Mengo financial situation, economics, poverty, Uganda politics, killings in Buganda, Katikkiro’s contract renewal and like.
Yet, based on documented history, Museveni had to be concerned only about his two strategic guideposts on Buganda, which have worked for him over the years:
The photos that Museveni posted hours after the meeting, probably without first alerting the Kabaka, suggest that he (Museveni) may now believe that Mayiga has done enough to weaken Kabaka Mutebi. The danger is that such overconfidence could encourage him to start aggressive and dangerous moves against the Kabaka of Buganda.
Below are the data and analysis that I used as foundation to my theory.
Fact: Museveni posted on his personal Facebook page that Kabaka Mutebi came to pay a “courtesy visit”. He was sending a (possibly false) message that Kabaka Mutebi is the one who requested an appointment to come and speak to president Museveni.
Fact: Museveni, Salim Saleh and John Katende are the reason why Mayiga joined Mengo in 1993, managed to return after the Regional Tier debacle and later became Katikkiro in 2013, executing the MOU after only a few weeks after getting in office.
Fact: Mayiga knowingly misled Kabaka Mutebi to sign the MOU, believing that his father, Ssekabaka Muteesa, was the legal and personal owner of all Buganda Kingdom assets which Obote grabbed in 1966 and he (Mutebi) had a right to register them in his names if returned.
Fact: Since the MOU signing, the Kabaka of Buganda is a hostage who can neither tell his subjects his true thoughts nor fire Mayiga without approval or threats by Museveni and Salim Saleh.
Fact: In the tradition of Katikkiro Apolo Kaggwa who lied to Baganda that he signed the 1900 Land Grabbing Deal on instructions of an infant Ssekabaka Cwa, Mayiga has convinced many unsuspecting Baganda that everything he does is on Kabaka Mutebi’s orders, scaring them from questioning his actions.
Fact: Mengo has gotten highly dependent on monthly payments that Museveni sends regularly since Mayiga became Katikkiro, to support payroll, Mayiga’s security, travel and other purposes.
Fact: Mayiga has committed Buganda assets in a few large multi-year investment partnerships with single-source Ugandans and foreigners since 2013. It is too early to tell if any of the investments is financially viable but the committed Buganda assets are at high risk.
Fact: The Buganda Regional Tier law which Mayiga, Mulwanyaamuli and Katende negotiated is still on the books. If implemented today, Museveni and Salim Saleh would probably make sure that Mayiga becomes the first elected Regional Tier Katikkiro.
In my view, the pictures that Museveni’s team posted on Facebook were carefully curated to tell a subliminal story of Mayiga as the broker delivering the Kabaka of Buganda to powerful warlord Museveni, with Kabaka Mutebi standing between the two men only able to put on a polite smile.
Based on the factual data I have described above and messages in the state house photos, there is no question in my mind that Museveni controlled what was discussed. And that he only agreed to things that would serve his strategic goal of convincing Baganda to get rid their Kabaka by themselves.