The government of Uganda has issued a directive removing all 14 kings from the official list of recognized traditional and cultural leaders in the country. In a letter to Jacqueline Kaggwa, Managing Director of the Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation (UPPC), official publishers of the Uganda Gazette, Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Mary Karooro Okurut, asked for the removal of the names of some 14 recognized traditional and cultural leaders.
The letter titled, Annulment of general notice N0. 303 of 2014, read in part: “This is to request you to de-gazette the names and titles of traditional or cultural leaders, which appeared in the Uganda Gazette, legal notice number 303 of 2014.”
UPPC received the letter on August 6, and agreed to publish an extraordinary gazette, annulling the names and titles of the kings. Okurut’s letter followed a July 17, 2014 letter from her Permanent Secretary, Pius Bigirimana, which was rejected by UPPC on grounds that it broke the law.
“According to the Institution of Traditional or Cultural Leaders Act of 2011, sections 6 and 8, it is the minister who has the powers to call for either the gazetting or de-gazetting [of any traditional or cultural leader]. So, we require a letter/notice signed by your minister to the effect,” UPPC’s Kaggwa wrote to Bigirimana.
Even though Karooro’s letter does not give reasons for the government’s action, some officials at the ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity advanced several theories. One such theory points to last month’s clashes in the Rwenzori sub-region, in which about 90 people were killed. The officials say government blamed the clashes largely on tribal conflicts ignited by the Bakonzo. Several government officials, notably the Internal Affairs minister Gen Aronda Nyakayirima and President Museveni, hinted at the possibility of restraining traditional leaders.