Kampala — The Cabinet has recognised the Rwenzururu Kingdom headed by Charles Wesley Mumbere as a cultural institution. This was long over due.
The Bakonzo and Bamba suffered oppression and segregation under Toro Kingdom, leading to an armed struggle for independence in 1963. There have been fears that Toro could reclaim jurisdiction over Kasese and Bundibugyo if Rwenzururu was not recognised sooner than later. This would lead to fresh violent confrontation. Therefore, the Bamba and Bakonzo deserve their cherished prize as a symbol of cultural identity and pride.
The Cabinet move is in line with the Constitution which provides for people to have a cultural institution if they so wish.
Unlike in Ankole, studies revealed unanimity in the Rwenzori region. Even before the Kajura report, a study by Makerere University showed that over 87% of the population wanted the kingdom - whether it was a new concept or not. Therefore, the Government should be commended for respecting public opinion albeit late.
The Rwenzururu kingdom is unique; it is the only one with two distinct tribes - unlike Toro, Bunyoro, Busoga and Buganda. Although Buganda has Baruli, the latter are uncomfortable being part of the kingdom and are not totally a distinct tribal group. Now that Bamba and Bakonzo have realised their dream, the kingdom and central government leaders should use the unity between the two to cause development in the area.
The sub-region has been voting against the Government because of its earlier refusal to recognise the kingdom. The Reform Agenda and FDC rode on protest votes to defeat the Government.
Therefore, the Cabinet move is a boost to the NRM, but a challenge to the FDC to prove that its good performance in the area was because of good alternative programmes rather than the voters' anger.
King Charles Wesley Mumbere also faces a challenge to bring his rival claimants to the throne to a round table conference so as to work together in the interests of harmony, unity and development in the kingdom.