The disputed cultural leader of the Banyala, Captain Baker Kimeze, has told President Museveni that his people want autonomy from Buganda Kingdom.
The Banyala are a minority ethnic group living in Kayunga District, Buganda Kingdom’s old county of Bugerere.
Kimeze handed the President a petition from the Banyala seeking to break away from Buganda and to be recognised as an autonomous cultural institution. This was during a public rally Museveni addressed at Galiraya, a landing site on the shores of Lake Kyoga, on Monday.
Kimeze’s petition comes days after the President had declared that Kayunga will not beak away from Buganda, but the Banyala have the right to practise their culture. But the Banyala who received the President, maintained that they want Kayunga to be autonomous from Buganda. And to emphasise their point, the Banyala sang their own anthem after the national anthem had been played.
They sang songs declaring their autonomy and praised Kimeze who explained to President Museveni the history of the Banyala.
The President chose not to comment on Kimeze’s petition when he stood up to address the rally.
But the issue of autonomy for the Banyala remains a controversial one with Buganda accusing the central government of propping up separatist chiefdoms in Buganda.
It was the same demands by the Banyala for recognition as an autonomous cultural institution that sparked off riots in Kampala and Kayunga in September 2009 after the Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, was blocked from visiting Kayunga.
The Government said the Kabaka needed to seek permission from Kimeze before he could visit the area, but Mengo officials dismissed Kimeze as a government creation from whom the Kabaka could not beg.
Museveni has been touring Prosperity for All projects in Kayunga District since Thursday, February 4.
He told the same rally that he was tired of corruption in the NAADS programme.
“These corrupt NAADS officials are like jiggers, I am going to remove them from the system,” he said.
He was responding to residents who complained that NAADS officials were stealing funds meant to help poor people improve their lives. Margaret Ndagire, a farmer in Ntimba, Galiraya, said that her group of 25 members was given only a he-goat.
“We stared at it wondering how it will benefit all of us. We knew it would not reproduce so that each of us takes the kids so we consulted the NAADS officials,” Ndagire said.
She said that they were advised by the NAADS officials to look for farmers who would bring their female goats for mating at Shs1,000.
“My friends left the goat with me since it was not going to benefit all of us,” Ndagire says.
She says first the goat needed special feeds, and then the goats it would mate with had to be vaccinated first. Ndagire said the goat fell sick and died. “One day the NAADS people came and took their signpost from my compound and that was the last time I saw them.”
“I have had it with this NAADS people. Everywhere I go people are saying they don’t help the poor but instead they have started their own farms. I am not going to allow this. This year is for improving household incomes,” the President told the gathering.
He directed Moses Byaruhanga, the Presidential Assistant on Political Affairs, to write down everyone’s concerns and problems. For over two hours Byaruhanga listened to demands ranging from women asking for dairy cows to men seeking mosquito nets for their families.
But one resident, Saulo Musigire, remained pessimistic. He said all government programmes had failed to understand what the people actually need.
He said that helping only farmers in Galiraya, left the majority of people, who are fishermen, in poverty.
“First, the conditions here cannot allow exotic cattle, goats or plants to survive. Secondly, the weather here is very harsh and hot; so, farming is very difficult. We cannot harvest what we expect. The poverty here is unimaginable. NAADS should be helping the fishermen because this is a fishing community,” he said.
He said that while government had introduced patrols to check illegal fishing, the law enforcement people were instead aiding it. When they confiscate illegal fishing nets, Musigire says, the officers sell the nets to other fishermen and the cycle continues.
The President promised to extend electricity to Galiraya. He visited homes of two farmers; Kizito Luwalira and Godfrey Ssonko who rear cattle and grow pineapples. He donated a milk processing plant and a juice processor.