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Analysis: Tracing the Endless Row Surrounding Bugisu Cultural Institution Leadership

A fresh row has erupted in the Cultural Institution of Bamasaaba (Inzu Ya Masaaba), following the election of two new leaders (Umukuuka) John Amram Wagabyalile and Jude Mudoma in October and December respectively.

Two rival factions, one affiliated to the current Umukuuka Sir Bob Mushikori and another one to the institution Chairperson of Governing Board Stephen Mungoma both say that it is their leaders who were lawfully voted.

The two elected leaders are Mudoma for Mungoma’s and Wagabyalile for Mushikori’s factions respectively.

Mungoma and Mushikori got misunderstanding in 2019, following the differences where Mungoma and his allies accused Mushikori of being incompetent, misuse of Office and poor dress code.

In April 2019, Mushikori and his allies travelled and convened a General Assembly in Mabanga, Bungoma Kenya, where they sucked some institution officials; the Speaker Nelson Wedaire replacing him with Rose Nelima and the Secretary General Geofrey Wepondi replacing Reverend James Kangala. The two Kangala and Wedaire, had sided with Mungoma.

Mushikori (R), congratulating Wagabyalile (L) last week.

Since the election of the new leader is spearheaded by the Office of the Secretary General and the Speaker according to the Constitution of the Inzu Ya Masaaba, Mungoma’s faction sought for guidance from the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development, which is responsible for all cultural institutions.

In a subsequent letter that was written by Peace Mutuzo, the Minister of state for Gender, the Mabanga Resolutions were illegalized since it had been held in the foreign land.

This reportedly gave Wedaire and Kangala a go ahead to organize the election of the new leader which received maximum opposition from the institution between June and August.

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On August 6, 49 clans organized by the Wedaira met at Bungokho-Mutoto and voted Mudoma as the new king. 33 out of 49 Heads of different Bamasaaba clans who participated in the polls approved Mudoma as the new Umukuuka. On November 21, Mudoma was sworn-in from Mbale Sports Club in a scientific function.

His election was perceived as unlawful by Mushikori faction’s Speaker Wepondi, who termed it null and void.

“This is to notify the general public that the office of the Secretary General, Inzu Ya Masaaba which is charged with the Constitutional mandate under the Inzu Ya Masaaba Constitution to among others oversee and supervise the election and installation of Uwelukoosi Umukuuka/Umukhukhu we Bamasaaba was not aware of and didn’t participate in the ceremony that took place on 21st day of November 2020 at Mbale Sports Club Bar purporting to install Umukuuka III,” reads part of the statement that Wepondi released after Mudoma’s installation.

Delegates who convened at Inzu Ya Masaaba headquarters last week.

Few weeks later, the institution organized polls where Wagabyalile was elected as the new formally accepted leader.

Wagabyalile was declared the third Umukuuka after garnering 35 votes, beating his only two competitors; Gregory Gidagui Mafabi and Patrick Mazina Wamakuyu, who scored two and one votes respectively.

Unlike Wedaire’s where Delegates from over 45 clans participated in the polls, this time, delegates from 26 clans showed up at the chiefdom headquarters in Malukhu, Mbale district.

A day after, Wedaire termed Wagabyalile’s election as null, void and unconstitutional.

Addressing journalists in Mbale over the weekend, Wedaira said that the election of Wagabyalile was illegal, null and void, since Mudoma was legally elected and fully installed.

“Mudoma was elected on 6th October, sworn in on 13th November and traditionally installed on 21st November, 2020. The latest elections are null and void,” he said.

Calling upon Mushikori to peacefully hand over power to Mudoma, Wadaire said, “I appeal to the masses to rally behind Jude Mudoma for development, he is the only one with the vision for Bamasaaba.”

It is no longer a secret that the cultural institution is now having two leaders, where the legality of both of them is questioned since the two follow different legal procedures.

It should be remembered that unlike other Kingdoms like; Baganda, Tooro and Bunyoro, whose leadership is hereditary, in Bugisu, the position is competitive and attained through polls and the leader is chosen from the over 50 clans which originate from the three sons of Masaaba, who is believed to be the first Mugisu.

These are Wanale majorly from Mbale district, Mubuya from Bududa, Manafwa and Namisindwa and Mwambu from Sironko district.

Since the restoration of the cultural institutions, Bugisu has been ruled by two leaders; Wilson Waasa Wamimbi originating from Wanale, Sir Bob Mushikori from the Mubuya.

The acceptance of the third leader remains unknown as each faction disagrees with the other.

Former Institution Attorney General Speaks Out

Peter Magomu Mashate, the Former Attorney General of the Institution who served under the first leadership of Umukuuka Wilson Wamimbi said that the whole issue should be solved using the Constitution.

“While dealing with this issue, personal ego should be put aside and we do the right thing because the Constitution makes it clear and I think if followed, all these problems would not be arising,” he said adding.

“Dialogue can also help here because if the two sides reconcile and agree on particular issues either amending some provisions which may be raising all these concerns. It is bad when we see our leaders and elders quarreling in the public,” he added.

If the Constitution is followed as advised by Mashate, it implies that it is Mudoma who is lawfully elected since the Mabanga Resolution was illegalized by the Government.

Speaker Rose Nelima during the Mabanga General assembly.

“While we have these different Constitutions governing different bodies like the Organizations, Institutions, they should ultimately be subjected to the Ugandan Constitution because it is the one which takes precedence for example legalizing the establishment of Kingdoms under Article 246,” he noted.

Mashate warned that it is good to welcome the Bamasaaba brothers and sisters from Kenya but it would not be a wise decision to involve them in the affairs governing the institutions since the Kenyan Constitution does not acknowledge the presence of Cultural Institutions as its Ugandan counterpart does.

“During my time as the Attorney General, we had some misunderstandings that arose due to governance but we were able to solve them amicably.

 

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