At least two main presidential candidates in the 2021 election have visited Bulange, Mengo, the seat of Buganda Kingdom, the most prominent monarchy in Uganda, seeking endorsement.
These are Patrick Oboi Amuriat of main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), and Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine of the National Unity Platform (NUP).
Incumbent Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni was the first to send a delegation, that included junior tourism minister and NRM vice chairperson for Buganda Godfrey Suubi Kiwanda, NRM and government chief Ruth Nankabirwa and former regional parliament East Africa Legislative Assembly (Eala) speaker Margaret Nantongo Zziwa, to meet Kingdom officials.
On October 22, about a month after a visit by Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) delegation, Bobi Wine also visited Mengo.
The latest to visit the kingdom is Amuriat.
In all the three meetings, Kingdom Prime Minister Katikkiro Charles Peter Mayiga has remained consistent in his message to those seeking the monarchy’s support: promote Buganda’s five aspirations.
These are: protection of the sanctity of the heritage including respect for the incumbent on the throne; a federal system of government; protection of land rights and the boundaries of the Kingdom; extension of economic and social services for the well-being of the people of Buganda; and unity of the people of Buganda.
After his meeting with Amuriat and his FDC delegation, which included Nakawa MP Micheal Kabaziguruka, Rubaga Division Mayor Joyce Ssebugwawo, FDC National Chairman Wasswa Biriggwa, and Kampala Woman MP FDC candidate Stella Nyanzi, Mayiga emphasized the centrality of Buganda to Uganda.
“Every student of history knows that the Kingdom of Buganda is central to the formation of the country Uganda. The struggle and all the processes that led to Independence in 1962 were deeply related or even originated within the Kingdom of Buganda and as our experience as an independent country played out, it was within Buganda to the large extent,” explained Mayiga.
“And of course the Capital is here and most of the national installations are found in Buganda. The same is also true with regard to the economic activities since the bigger portion of the country’s GDP is realized within an 80 Kilometer radius from Kampala which largely constitutes the Kingdom.”
Amuriat pronounced himself on one of the most contentious issues: federal system of government.
“Buganda should be at peace because our government is going to be working with the federal government here, and federal will be given in its true sense of the word as it is understood by Buganda,” said the barefooted presidential candidate.
He asked Buganda to back him, saying he is their son since his mother was a Muganda.
The same basis would go for Bobi Wine, who is a Muganda. But Mengo has asked Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi’s subjects to elect politicians who espouse the five aspirations.
In May 2020, Mayiga told Kingdom loyalists that Mengo would not back Bobi Wine – even when he is a Muganda by tribe. Taking sides in politics, he argued, would divide the Kabaka’s people.
“I am not going to endorse NRM, FDC, People Power, or any other party. If I endorse DP, how am I going to deal with those of NRM yet they are all subjects of the Kabaka. If for example I endorse People Power and Honourable Kyagulanyi, how do I deal with other people some of whom are my friends?” he told Urban TV.
Despite its significance in Uganda’s politics, Mengo is clearly constrained and would find it difficult to openly support any of the 11 candidates given its largely troubled relationship with the central government.
Besides moderate condemnation of excesses of government officials and security agencies, Mengo seems to have found it prudent to take a backseat or go slow on politics to avoid a repeat of the trouble that befell it in past administrations.