By Steven Masiga.
The clan chairmen of the 26 clans of Masaba land have finally implemented a court directive that required them to mediate and pronounce themselves on who of the two contenders was properly elected as Umguga III of Bugisu to replace the late Mushikori Bob.
This sitting that took place in Sironko on Monday 21/November /2022 presided over by the clan chairmen was also witnessed by LCVs and other opinion leaders from all corners of Masaaba land. About 70% of the clan leaders zeroed down on Mike Jude Mudoma as the bona-fide king of Bugisu and that the Ministry of Gender has accordingly been informed to conclude the gazettement of Mzee Mudoma.
The two conflicting parties for Muguga III leadership had petitioned court at various times moving the high court in Mbale to compel government to gazette them through issuance of various writs like mandamus, but the high court was reluctant to order government to gazette Mzee JM Mudoma or Mzee Wagabyalire.
In its ruling high court directed the two petitioners for Buguuga to first exhaust all the provisions within Art 246 (2) and sections 16(1) of the CLA 2011 and this is why the elders assembled yesterday and fully implemented it.
The above statutory provisions put a lot of emphasis on clan chairmen/ elders to resolve conflicts in cultural institutions whenever they arise and thus court was legally shy to pronounce itself on the true cultural leader yet such powers are vested in the clan leaders who are mandated to determine who leads them as Umuguga III. Court can only intervene once the two remedies have failed.
Recently the Sabaruli of Buruli had tried to help in the mediation but he received cold reception from majority of Bamasaba who thought clan chairmen carry more weight in such matters than any outsider.
Wagabyalire’s Prime minister Geofrey Wepondi challenged this and quickly issued a rebuttal by way of social media statement as follows;”Fred, go back to the list. Why are these liers missing the public?. There seems to be a lot of fraud in those cow issues. Mr. Wabuya wrote this list. He faked and jumped numbers intentionally. check, Who is number 8 on that list? For me I have already sent this list to the ministry. The Baganda say..noo ugezi awubwa Wabuya is so corrupt, he calls himself a chairman of 26 clans when he is not a chairman of his clan. Now on the list, he skips 8 and jumps to 9. At the end instead of 14, he writes and reads 15 to the whole public. This is fraud, corruption, misrepresentation, everything…..!. So on the actual 14 people, remove three who are not chairmen. So they collected only 11 people out of 26 clan chairmen. What is unfortunate for them is that they announced 15 and it’s recorded on air. I have also sent a report to the Ministry. How will they change from 15 to actually 11. There is serious suspect that someone signed for some people and Wabuya takes responsibility as the so called chairman. For us birds of the same feather, we flock together. If it is lying, we all lie. If it’s forging, we forge together. The list is in Public domain, examine it for yourself. For me, am accountant by training and a student of governance and administration and a strategist by practice. I have been an auditor. I do a lot of analysis of figures, situations and the environment. Please, analyse and comment on Mr Wabuya’s list of chairmen. That group has a lawyer amongst them. If they change their list because of my analysis, they will be adding concrete on their grave”. Wepondi continues that; “Wabuya is a retired either civil or public servant. He is a delegate of Mumbo clan. He replaced Elder Musundi who originally was the delegate. When Wabuya became a delegate, Mr. Mulongo now took the position of chairman mumbo clan. Up to now, Mr. Mulongo is the chairman. Mr. Wabuya recently participated in organizing Imbalu 2022. The group is yet to account to us (Bamasaaba and Inzu) how they managed the activity using public funds because some delegate…Jenipher manana was instructed to procure a cow and they have not paid and Jenipher is on police bond for inzu failure to pay for the cow. Now Mr. Wabuya says he is the chairman of the 26 clan chairmen, you will know him very clearly when we shall very soon require them to account for Imbalu activity. I don’t know him beyond this but I once met him in bumbo when I h a d gone visiting my relatives”.COUNSEL RICHARD MASEREJE .
However, Counsel Richard Masereje a one time MP contender for Budadiri East and still eyeing for 2026 to oust the FDC strongman Hon Isiah Sasaga opined that; ” I think I saw, some clan leaders backing Mzee Wagabyalire and Some backing Mzee Mudoma. So it is not in dispute that they are recognised 26 Clan Leaders of Bugisu sub region. Then the law gave them the mandate to resolve the dispute not to mediate and how they resolve the dispute is their call.” This Counsel Masereje legal opinion seems to legitimise the Sironko meeting and it now remains to be seen whether His Highness Jude Mike Mudoma will be Gazetted and would seem for now to have the momentum.
INZU INNAUGRAL ATTORNEY GENERAL However when the innaugral Attorney General Inzu Ya Masaaba Barrister Peter Magomu Mashate was asked for his take on the current impasse, he was very reluctant to comment as he argued that he doesn’t want to add fuel on the burning fire. However when further pressed he opined thus; ” the doctrine of necessity has no room for conquest by one side against the other. On the facts, it is not an option as it would leave bitterness and blackmail therefore perpetual turbulence that may go beyond Inda Ya Mwambu even when it comes to the turn of Wanale/Mubuya. Operation of the DOCTRINE OF NECESSITY seems to me to be enshrined in the Olive branch that the Court provided by pushing it back to the elders. One of the basic questions a law student grapples with in the study of Comparative Jurisprudence is often this; ” is a Court of Law really a Court of Justice”?. This question is so poignant in the light of various international justice systems including Ugandan cultural perspectives and quasi-judicial traditional dispute resolution systems. A good example of traditional system lies in the Acholi/Kony Mato Oput that operated in lieu of strict and formal judicial jurisdiction. The central theme for adoption of this mode was reconciliation just like the South African ANC/Apartheid truth and reconciliation commission.For instance, while taking alcohol is a social event in Uganda, USA, UK etc, its is a criminal offence to do so in Saudi Arabia etc amongst other things, including but not limited to culture. If pushed too much the Court’s imposed decision could appear inflexible based on law hence this Olive branch of reverting it to the Bugisu/Bamasaaba elders the real stakeholders. Let’s embrace reconciliation for “lwebudwela ninzowazowana ye Bamasaaba”.The Inzu Ya Masaaba has many rooms that will accommodate most of the supporters of either side of the divide provided a formula of inclusiveness is adopted. Let’s work together and stop this washing of dirty linen in public.Mashate further arguses, Politicians lose elections but live with the outcome to fight another day why make this Buguuga Issue a “life and death” matter at the expense of our children (the youth) and posterity. This is selfishness which is alien in our culture and must be avoided. Similarly, he contends, Notwithstanding, if none is Gazetted this time round, the Innaugral Umuguuga 1 Emiritus Wilson Weasa Wamimbi faced very many challenges but he was a listening Umuguuga 1 and he prevauled – I trust he is open and ever availble for guidance if needed to break the impasse. A committe agreed by both sides of about 7 venerable elders that includes 3 Bamasaaba lawyers could be constituted with specific terms of reference to advise the clan elders on amicable resolution and equitable sharing of responsibilities in the Institution which has many rooms. The legal and moral dilemma for Mwambu lineage cannot be indefinite.Mashate opined that as matters stand legally speaking the Mwambu turn cannot be said to have commenced until Umuguuga III is gazetted. That is when you start ticking off the 5 years term. However, should the Mwambu family dilly-dally up to the would-be expiry of their term of 5 years, a MORAL question posed by all Bamasaaba will inevitably arise which will be impossible to deflect. The question will be; ” WHAT MORAL AUTHORITY DO YOU HAVE TO HOLD BACK IF NOT AT RANSOM THE PROGRESS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE CULTURAL INSTITUTION & FOR HOW MUCH LONGER UNTIL KINGDOM COME?”. At that point Mwambu might let go to Wanale or Mubuya as it will become untenable. This should not be allowed to happen. The decision is in our hands the Mwambus’.Let our people rise to the occasion. Co-existence is achievable and has to be achieved.
Steven Masiga is a researcher and writer from Mbale tel: 0706655811