Traditional institutions in Uganda are pushing for more administrative powers to fast track development in their localities and also promote cultural identity. They believe a federal type of governance will facilitate quick development in the country.

Uganda has about five kingdoms and several chiefdoms.

These native institutions are helping to preserve and promote the cultural values of the country.

Before they were abolished in 1966, the government would manage their affairs through monarchs. But after their restoration in 1993, they are pushing for a new political arrangement.

Minister for Buganda Kingdom, David Mpanga, says native people of Africa have an internationally recognised right to self-determination.

“Each of the native people of Africa has the internationally recognised right to self-determination. We think the best way to exercise it outright and to the fullest within the context of the colonial states that were created, is to have a federal arrangement under which the entities are recognised as the native owners of the sovereign power which they cede to the centre.”

A federal type of governance is where political authority is divided between two autonomous sets of government. This type of governance would allow the traditional institutions to levy and collect taxes in their area of jurisdiction.

They now have limited powers.

Mpanga says the central government occupies a lot of the Kingdoms’ land.

“Unfortunately, the central government occupies a lot of the Kingdoms’ land and uses it for courts, army barracks and doesn’t pay rent. And when it does pay rent, they only pay half of it or sometimes they term it as compensation or grant. That’s created a build-up or a strain in relationships because like any other entity, we need money to run the affairs of the Kingdom.”

The central government fears that the federal type of governance could cause disharmony.

The state has instead offered a decentralised type of governance. Through this type of arrangement, the government appoints its own people to manage the affairs of the state.

Political pundits say it may take years for the federalists to end this power struggle.

– Reporting by Hillary Ayesiga.