African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 382

Full Length Research Paper

Analysis of the pre-colonial, colonial and post colonial bureaucracy of Buganda: The major milestones in its development

Hizaamu Ramadhan
  • Hizaamu Ramadhan
  • Uganda Management Institute, Kampala, Uganda.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 05 March 2014
  •  Accepted: 08 May 2015
  •  Published: 31 August 2018


Bureaucracy in Buganda polity transcended the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial era. During each era, the principles which underpin the Weberian bureaucracy manifested variously. Pre-colonial bureaucracy manifested as a strong chain of command through the hierarchical kingdom structure; and centralized control by the King through the chiefs. During the colonial times, bureaucracy had duality in the chain of command and allegiance where chiefs served both the King and colonial administrators. Unlike the pre-colonial era, laws were written and some employees directly under the colonial administration were recruited due to their technical competences and served with impersonality. The post-colonial bureaucracy was an extension of the colonial bureaucracy albeit with more of the Weberian form. Buganda wanted to operate as a state within a state where the King held political and executive powers of Uganda as a state but at the same time retain the position of the head of the monarch (Buganda) within Uganda. Abolition of monarchies created a lull in the late 1960s to early 1980s. Coming into power of the NRM regime reinstated the monarch albeit with more cultural mandate than political and administrative clout. The bureaucratic machinery remained in the Kingdom administrative hierarchy without the powers it enjoyed during the pre-colonial and colonial era. This article provides historical development of Buganda monarch during the different eras. It chronological highlighted the growth; peaking and anticlimax of bureaucracy in the Buganda. Whether the bureaucracy in Buganda will regain its original form under the current government remains to be seen. 


Key words: Bureaucracy; polity; government, pre-colonial, colonial, post-colonial.



The historical bureaucratic transformation Buganda as a polity transcends the different forms of rule from pre- colonial, colonial and the independence or post colonial era. Any attempt to analyze these segments in the context of bureaucracy will hinge on the extent of their legitimacy from the basic governance framework that served the purpose at their times. To this end, an understanding of bureaucracy and its characteristics situated in Buganda polity will provide the basis for the discourse in this paper.
This paper gives an account of the historical develop-ment of bureaucracy in Buganda polity. It begins by defining bureaucracy and elaborating its characteristics in a polity. It further defines Buganda as a polity and the concept of government then delves into analysis of the pre-colonial, colonial and post colonial bureaucracy in Buganda with the characteristic bureaucratic milestones that pertained at the different times.
The paper concludes by looking at the fading hope of re-establishing the much demanded bureaucracy in Buganda under the current NRM government.



This is a literature review grounded article which according to Amin (2004) is a credible approach to scientific research that uses secondary data. In this article, major milestones in the bureaucratic development in Buganda as a polity are highlighted to illustrate the growth and decline of bureaucracy given the political climatic changes in Uganda as a country.



Understanding bureaucracy and its characteristics in a polity
Raadschelders (1998) noted that since the terminology bureaucracy was coined, it has had negative connotations where bureaucracies are viewed as complex, inefficient and rigid individuals. The 19th-century definition referred to a system of governance in which offices were held by unelected career officials and in this sense "bureaucracy" was seen as a distinct form of government, often subservient to a monarchy. In the 1920s, the definition was expanded by Max (1887) to include any system of administration conducted by trained professionals according to fixed rules. Weber saw the bureaucracy as a relatively positive development.
According to Max (ibid), bureaucracy is the formal system of organization and administration designed to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. The features of bureaucracy sharply distinguish it from other types of organization based on nonlegal forms of authority. In essence, it is an institution; which is socially grounded and through which publicly provided services are publicly produced. The alternative to bureaucratic supply of public service is the purchase of such services from private firms. The bureaucratic form is so common that most people accept it as the normal way of organizing almost any endeavour. People in bureaucratic organizations generally blame the ugly side effects of bureaucracy on management, or the founders, or the owners, without awareness that the real cause is the organizing form. The Austrian economist Ludwig VM (1944) noted that the term   bureaucracy    was    "always    applied     with    an opprobrious connotation," and the American sociologist Robert M (1957) stressed that the term “bureaucrat” had become an epithet. Bureaucratic organization can be found in both public and private institutions. One can therefore, in an attempt to conceptualize bureaucracy, posit that it aims at creating order through control mechanisms of people within a set of hierarchical arrangement of an organization or state with the view of improving functional efficiency. At this juncture, it is important to point out the defining constituents of bureaucracy as a concept.
Characteristics of bureaucracy
Max (ibid) brings out six principles of bureaucratic theory which focus on job specialization where jobs are divided into simple, routine and fixed category based on competence and functional specialization. Bureaucracy also stresses authority hierarchy in which officers are organized in a hierarchy in which higher officer controls lower position holders i.e. superior controls subordinates and their performance of subordinates and lower staff could be controlled. There is formal selection of all organizational members on the basis of technical qualifications and competence demonstrated by training, education or formal examination. A bureaucracy has formal rules and regulations aimed at ensuring uniformity and to regulating actions of employees, managers must depend heavily upon formal organizational rules and regulations. Thus, rules of law lead to impersonality in interpersonal relations. Rules and controls are applied uniformly, avoiding involvement with personalities and preferences of employees. Nepotism and favoritism are not preferred. In addition, career building opportunity is offered highly. Lifelong employment and adequate protection of individuals against arbitrary dismissal is guaranteed. Here managers are professional officials rather than owners of units they manage. They work for a fixed salaries and pursue their career within the organization. Up to now, bureaucracy still finds space in the modern public administration as well as the private sector given the principles upon which it is grounded.
Any attempt to analyse bureaucracy in the pre colonial, colonial and post colonial era in the context of Buganda as polity will take into account the inherent weaknesses in the bureaucracy theory which include its inability to consider the informal relationships between individuals working in the establishment; the context under which bureaucracy was conceived have suffered the effects of time lapse and my not necessarily apply wholly in the contemporary environment and; its deficiency in resolving differences and conflicts arising between functional groups (Barry, 2007). In examining and explaining the major milestones regarding the development of bureaucracy in Buganda, it is essential to first understand what  constitutes  a  polity  within  which  the  principles of bureaucracy are housed. 
Defining Buganda as a polity
Attempts by scholars to define the concept of a polity also referred to as the “state” sets grounds for an ideological conflict, because different definitions lead to different theories of state function, and as a result validate different political strategies. There is no academic consensus on the most appropriate definition of the state; however, the most commonly used definition is that of Max W as quoted by Dubreuil B (2010), Gordon S (2002), Hay C (2001) and Donovan JC (1993), where a state is described as a compulsory political organization with a centralized government that maintains a monopoly of the legitimate use of force within a certain geographical territory. Woodrow W (1887) also defined a state as a people organized for law within a definite territory. In all cases, the general categories of state institutions include administrative bureaucracies, legal systems and military or religious organizations (Earle T 1997) within which the discourse in this paper will be bounded. The common factors in all definitions hinge on the people who constitute the population within a given territory where government is the agency with the mandate for stewardship of the state and having sovereignty where it is able to exchange its relations with other states and agencies or organizations both national and internationally. This is in comparison to the stone age situation where the hunter gatherers lived in 'stateless societies', as though their social lives were somehow lacking or unfinished, waiting to be completed by the evolutionary development of a state apparatus. Rather, the principal of their socialty was fundamentally against the state.
It can be concluded that the state is thus a supreme corporate entity because it is not incorporated into any other entity, even though it might be subordinate to other powers (such as another state or an empire). One state is distinguished from another by its having its own independent structure of political authority, and an attachment to separate physical territories. Government and the state are not however, the same thing. States can exist without governments and frequently exist with many governments. Not all governments have states. The United States, Canada, Germany and India are just a few of the many countries with many governments. States that have, for at least a time, operated without governments (or at least a central government) include Somalia from 1991 to 2000 and Iraq from 2003 to 2004. Many governments are clearly governments of units within federal states. But there can also be governments where there are no states: the Palestinian Authority is one example. A state in distinguishable from a government given its identifiable characteristics and mandate as discusses hereunder.
The concept of government
At this juncture, the concept of the government will be examined prior to delving into analysis of pre-colonial, colonial and post colonial bureaucracy in Buganda. According to Bealey (1999), a government is the agent, or instrument, of the political society which consists of public institutions which have the authority to make and enforce decisions which are binding on the whole society and all of its members. Other scholars define government as a particular group of people, the administrative bureaucracy that controls the state apparatus at a given time. From the above definitions, one can aver that governments are the means through which state power is employed. States are served by a continuous succession of different governments. According to Bealey (Ibid), each successive government is composed of a specialized and privileged body of individuals, who monopolize political decision-making, and are separated by status and organization from the population as a whole. Their function is to enforce existing laws, legislate new ones, and arbitrate conflicts. In some societies, this group is often a self-perpetuating or hereditary class. In other societies, such as democracies, the political roles remain, but there is frequent turnover of the people actually filling the positions.
One can conclude that for government to come into being there must exist a population of people who accept willingly or otherwise the authority of some person or persons to address matters of public concern. Public concerns can include but not limited to provision of security and defense against external enemies, administration of justice, and provision of public goods such as education, health and infrastructure as examples.
While a lot has been written about the pre-colonial, colonial and post colonial history of Buganda (Mbabazi and Taylor 2005; Osei-Hwedie, 2001; Hirst, 2003) limited analysis does exist on the significant milestones of bureaucracy in these eras which define the contributions made in reflecting the country’s status in the new public management order. This paper will bring out the salient landmarks which characterized the transition of bureaucracy from pre-colonial, colonial and post independent history of Buganda as a continuum. Efforts will be made to analyze with concrete examples of the major milestones regarding the development of that bureaucracy. The paper will end with a roundup of the future of bureaucracy in Buganda Kingdom.  
Analysis of the pre-colonial bureaucracy in Buganda
Reflecting on the pre Weberian understanding of bureaucracy, the 19th-century definition referred to a system of governance in which offices were held by unelected career officials and in this sense "bureaucracy" was seen as a distinct form of government. During this era, Uganda displayed considerable variety of pre-colonial institutions within its borders characterized by the more organized kingdoms and the fragmented ethnic groupings. According to Nicola G (2006), the South and the West of the country covered the territory of the pre-colonial kingdoms of Buganda, Bunyoro, Toro and Ankole. In contrast, the North of Uganda was entirely populated by fragmented ethnic groups such as Lango, Acholi and Karamoja. Finally, in the East there was centralized Busoga as well as fragmented Teso and Bugisu societies. Going by the Max W description of a state with a centralized government that maintains a monopoly of the legitimate use of force within a certain geographical territory; these groupings; and Buganda in particular, provided the structures within which bureaucracy thrived.
At this juncture, focus will be turned to Buganda as one of the kingdoms in Uganda. The pre-colonial history of Buganda provides fertile grounds for examining the development of bureaucracy. It is however important to provide a brief background to the emergence of Buganda state as a foundation for analyzing the development of the bureaucracy. Buganda as a state emerged on the northern shores of Lake Victoria. This area of swamp and hillside was not attractive to the rulers of pastoral states farther north and west. There, as in the nearby Haya kingdom of west Tanzania, the wealth of the ruling class continued to depend more on banana, land and groves than cattle, and no sharp caste-like distinction between farmers and herders formed. Buganda became a refuge area, however, for those who wished to escape rule by Bunyoro or for factions within Bunyoro who were defeated in contests for power (Nicola, Ibid).
One such group from Bunyoro, headed by Prince Kimera, arrived in Buganda early in the 15th century. Assimilation of refugee elements had already strained the ruling abilities of Buganda's various clan chiefs and a supraclan political organization was already emerging. Kimera seized the initiative in this trend and became the first effective Kabaka (ruler) of the fledgling Buganda state (Nicola,Ibid).
Nicola (Ibid) further states that the Buganda's kingship was made a kind of state lottery in which all clans could participate. In forming a government, each new king was identified with the clan of his mother, rather than that of his father. All clans readily provided wives to the ruling Kabaka, who had eligible sons by most of them. When the ruler died, his successor was chosen by clan elders from among the eligible princes, each of whom belonged to the clan of his mother. In this way, the throne was never the property of a single clan for more than one reign. There were no privileged individuals who monopolized political decision-making, and separated by status and organization from the population as a whole. At this point in time, it is pertinent to know the very core of power which defined the Kingship in Buganda.
At the time the first Europeans arrived in East-Africa, the Buganda kingdom had a well-developed government. Not only did this create a strong attachment between the king and his people, but the Buganda kingdom also maintained a strong position towards the other regional kingdoms in the area. Originally, the early organisation of society in Buganda was based on possession of land resting in the hands of the leadership of various clans. However, in the 14th century, a new political organisation was imposed with all the power and wealth of the land centred in the position of the king, called Kabaka (Sathyamurthy 1986). Within the 19th century the king was the supreme leader and had gained considerable power over the clan leaders.
Bureaucratic milestones
Some of the bureaucratic mile stones were the centralized command vested in the King included centralized command and authority, and appointments of sub-ordinates. According to (Ray, 1991), the power of the king consisted of four activities, levying taxes, appointing chiefs, judging legal cases, and waging war. In addition, the king controlled the distribution of land. The predominant position of the Kabaka was further supported by the fact that the king appointed his subordinates down to the lowest level of administration (Ray Ibid). In this sense, the king exercised almost total control over his kingdom. In addition to the powerful king, the administration consisted of a Katikkiro, who acted as the Chief Minister, a council of county and department chiefs called the Lukiiko, and several levels of chiefs (Ray Ibid). Rather than the bureaucratic principle of formal selection of chiefs on the basis of technical qualifications and competence demonstrated by training, education or formal examination; the ranks in the hierarchy were determined by the authority granted by the king and measured by the number of people under the control of a chief. Apter 1967 noted that due to social mobility, the peasants could rise and be recruited into the hierarchy based on excellence in war. The fact that the social and political organisation accepted upwards and downwards mobility can in turn explain the popularity of the Buganda kingdom among the Baganda, and their strong feeling of attachment to their king.
Given the central role of the Kingship in appointing local chiefs or other high-level traditional authorities; the Kabaka had discretionary powers to abruptly dismiss any official if the performance of their area of jurisdiction in terms of for example tax collection was poor (Low, 1971). The departure from the contemporary understanding of bureaucracy was that while the structures in place were hierarchical, there were limited delineated lines of authority where the King in some instances played the role of policy maker and implementer. Likewise, none of the actions  were  taken  on  the basis of and recorded in written rules. The bureaucratic officials who in this case were the chiefs did not have expert training nor did they implement the King’s directives with neutrality given their strong allegiance to the King. Career advancement in terms of hierarchy within the monarch was based on close association and allegiance to the King rather than on technical qualifications (apart from skills in warfare) judged by Kingship. 
The strong position of the Kabaka was also explained by the fact that the king was the leader of the clan system, and held the title Ssabataka, which meant that he was the ‘Chief of the clan heads’ or ‘Supreme man of the land’ (Wrigley, 1996). The clan system remained the foundation for the social organisation of society, and as Ssabataka, the king was both the leader of the clan system and the administrative system. The rules of law did not provide for impersonality of either the King or his chiefs with the positions they held which to some extent promoted nepotism and favoritism. However, being a chief or a King provided for lifelong employment but adequate protection of individuals against arbitrary dismissal was not guaranteed. In this sense, the chiefs and the Baganda was tied to their king both through the social and political organisation of society. In addition, the Baganda were tied to their king through patron-client relations which gained importance during the colonial period. These relationships were repeated right up the ladder, so that everyone, except the Kabaka, was in effect the dependent client of someone else (Wrigley Ibid and Mafeje, 1998). The chiefs acted the owners of the areas of jurisdiction, collecting taxes and remitting to the King, without fixed salaries and could not develop their career within the Kingdom administration since training facilities were non existence. With the expansion strategy in the mid 19th century, Buganda had doubled and redoubled its territory, conquering much of Bunyoro and becoming the dominant state in the region. Newly conquered lands were placed under chiefs nominated by the king. This kind of state organization was what the first British explorer Henry Morton Stanley in 1875 found in place; setting ground for the colonization process.
Colonial bureaucracy in Buganda
The historical accounts suggest that pre-colonial institutions played a role in shaping the colonial pillars upon which the Buganda Kingdom was ruled. The dominant position of the Buganda kingdom in the region was further supported during the colonial period when Buganda was declared a British protectorate in 1894. According to Nicola (2006), British rule was formalised through different treaties, and Buganda managed to maintain a high degree of self-determination. The British soon extended their control outside the territory of Buganda. British rule in Buganda was characterized by a strong continuity of pre-colonial  institutions  (Pratt,  1965) of government based upon hierarchy of chiefs (Apter, 1961). In this process they used Baganda as fighters and as agents for British imperialism (Mutibwa, 1992). In exchange for their collaboration, the Buganda kingdom gained more autonomy than the other kingdoms in the protectorate.
Bureaucratic milestones
The main bureaucratic milestones during the colonial rule which will form the basis for discourse included the hierarchical structures, semblance of centralized command given that the chiefs reported to both the King and colonial masters, appointment of administrative agents by colonialists as well as by the King. The positions of the Kabaka, the Katikkiro, the Lukiiko, and a hierarchy of chiefs were guaranteed, although they operated under the supervision of the British. The administrative apparatus that had been developed in Buganda was exported to the rest of Uganda. The British considered this as a cheap solution since they could rule through pre-existing structures, take advantage of local labour forces, and reduce the import of British personnel. The chiefs in the colonial political hierarchy had dual subordinate to the Colonial Administration and accountability of traditional authority, but the paucity of European officers on the ground which according to Low (1965) allowed them to exercise a great deal of unsupervised power. While the authority hierarchy stressed by the bureaucracy theory was to some extent observed where chiefs reported to the colonial administration, the multiplicity of the chiefs’ areas of jurisdiction undermined effective supervision. The direct consequence of this situation was that the local chiefs – accountable to distant colonial and cultural offices – were relatively free to exploit their subjects. Indeed, Burke (1964) reports that in some of the areas under the Buganda Kingdom, there arose a system of effective but completely autocratic chieftainship. This undermined the tenets of bureaucracy especially in the absence of formally written rules and regulations where uniformity of actions by the chiefs could not be ensured. There was, however, a difference. In Buganda the king and his chiefs governed, while in the other areas the British District Commissioners, the executive authority within the districts, were recognised as the highest authority (Johannessen 2003). The other kingdoms therefore experienced greater interference in their local administration by the colonial power than Buganda (Sathyamurthy, 1986).
With time, the colonial administration strengthened their administrative grip on the Buganda polity to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations they had put in place; and uniformity in their application. Appointment of people in key positions was based on their allegiance to the colonial masters  but  also  hinged  on  their  ability to perform in the circumstances that the education systems which would produce highly trained bureaucrats was still in its infancy. The effects of change in the system of administration with improved accountability to the colonial administration had a number of positive outcomes. Crucially, historians stress that such accountability fostered modernization along two dimensions. First, it induced local chiefs to rule in the interest of their com-munities (Apter 1961) thereby fostering the introduction of new agricultural technologies (Richards, 1960; Ehrlich, 1965), religion and education (Low ibid), and modern health facilities (Pratt ibid).
Second, it improved coordination between local chiefs of different districts within the Kingdom, who were all in the main accountable to the traditional authority but with some level of accountability to the colonial administration. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this second effect boosted the ability of centralized groups to build roads (Pratt Ibid) and to control epidemics (Low, Ibid). In sum, as suggested by Mamdani’s (1996) “local accountability” view, during the colonial period modernization gave a great deal of power to local traditional authorities. Yet, while in fragmented groups in other parts of Uganda especially the north and north east; unrestrained local chiefs abused this power, in centralized groups the traditional system of checks and balances prevented local chiefs from doing so. As a result, pre-colonially centralized groups were better able to implement modernization programs because in those groups a) the relationship between local chiefs and local masses was less tyrannical than in fragmented groups, and b) the efforts of local chiefs could be coordinated to a greater extent. Max W’s (George, 2009) argument that bureaucracy constitutes the most efficient and (formally) rational way in which human activity can be organized, and that thus is indispensable to the modern world in service delivery came to bear during the colonial administration. The reflection was that Buganda Kingdom developed much faster compared to other polities at the time and even in the modern Uganda state.
Although the impact of pre-colonial centralization was probably strongest in the colonial period, its effect remained sizeable long after independence. Accordingly, historians confirm the continuing importance of pre-colonial institutions in the postcolonial period Nicola (2006), Buganda Kingdom reveal a clear continuity between postcolonial political leaders and pre-colonial rulers, as traditional patterns of politics influenced the nature of the postcolonial Buganda itself (Potholm, 1977; Picard, 1987). The pre-colonial institutions continued to play an important role at the local level, where post-colonial Buganda as a regime like other colonial predecessors could not achieve their objectives without the cooperation of traditional power holders. Interestingly, Herbst (2000) observed that postcolonial heads of state often had to come to pacts with traditional authorities as noted in the Uganda Peoples’ Congress lead by Obote I government   where   alliance   was    sought    with   King  Mutesa’s Kabaka Yekka party ("The King Only"). Herbst (Ibid) further noted that where kingdoms were abolished or marginalized after independence; governments only turned around to invite them back a few years later in the face of extraordinary difficulties to govern the rural areas. To sum up, Buganda history shows a clear continuity of pre-colonial and colonial bureaucratic institutions into the post-colonial polity and their crucial role in modernization. In line with the “local accountability” view of Mamdani (1996), historians confirm that, by leading to greater coordination and reduced local tyranny, pre-colonial centralization through its bureaucratic systems of management helped to improve policy implementation in colonial and postcolonial Africa. The local accountability view fostered the system of elected governments after independence which at the same time witnessed the emergence of a stronger bureaucracy in the post colonial administration in Buganda under Uganda as a wider polity. This then sets a foundation for the discourse on the bureaucratic milestones in the post colonial Buganda Kingdom with regard to its governance within the wider Uganda as a nation. It is however pertinent to first analyse the transition period from colonial administration to independence as a background to the discourse on the post colonial bureaucracy.
Post colonial bureaucracy in Buganda
In order to understand the post colonial bureaucracy in Buganda, it is prudent to first analyze the process that lead to independence in Uganda as a wider polity within which Buganda Kingdom was housed. Due to the autonomy Buganda gained, a major feature of colonial rule was the creation of Buganda into a state within the state of Uganda.
Bureaucratic milestones
The milestones in bureaucracy during this era were continuity from the colonial times. They in addition to what was pointed out included a stronger reflection of Weberian bureaucracy with the central government taking more control on the state apparatus and subsequently leaving the Kingdom with residual bureaucratic systems. This was later followed by the abolition of monarchs with their reinstatement in the National Resistance Movement regime. The subsequent bureaucracy in Buganda was greatly influenced by factors that operated in Uganda as a whole thus dwarfing the Buganda state which resulted into the different misunderstanding with the central government given the special status the Kingdoms continuously agitated for compared to the rest of the kingdoms in Uganda. This can help explain Buganda’s controversies with subsequent governments.
Towards independence
An important feature of the decades before independence was the demands made by Buganda to retain the privileged position of the kingdom. These demands concerned Buganda’s quest for self-determination, land, Buganda’s position vis-à-vis the rest of the protectorate, and the protection of the institution of kingship (Oloka-Onyango, 1997). Having enjoyed state power through which bureaucratic authority was exercised, Buganda’s increasing demands led to the deterioration of the relationship between the colonial power and the Buganda government. When demands for African political participation became more pronounced in the 1930s and 1940s. Sathyamurthy (1986) noted that the colonial power realized that the system of indirect rule through the traditional administration could not be harmonized with popular participation. As a response, administrative and institutional reforms were adapted as a way to prepare the ground for independence and self-government. The British had anticipated that the process of de-colonialization would last for thirty years. But, due to popular demand and international pressure, the move towards independence developed momentum to the extent that there was limited time to establish and develop democratic rules and institutions. Mugaju (2000) argued that the colonial power had been reluctant to allow political parties, arguing that multiparty politics would breed sectarianism, regionalism and instability. As a result, the first political parties were only established in the 1950s. The introduction of partisan politics added new dimensions to the struggle for Buganda’s interests. As the parties tended to represent specific geographical interests and only a limited national focus, they could not be described as mass-parties (Mittelman, 1975).
Skepticism towards political parties was also evident among traditional authorities all over the country who feared that the new political elite would undermine the position of traditional bureaucratic institutions once they took over power from the British. This was evident among the neo-traditionalists from Buganda who considered political parties to be enemies of the kingship, and feared that the Kabaka and the chiefs would lose power if regular elections were held. As Independence approached in the 1940s-1950s, it was clear that the Baganda wanted extensive autonomy in Uganda, and the Buganda King's party Kabaka Yekka emphasized this desire. However this was not favored by most Ugandans of other tribes and amongst some Buganda educated elite who formed an alternative party, the Democratic Party (Uganda) to aspire for national unity. Although unpopular in Buganda, the Democratic Party had widespread support in the rest of the Bantu-speaking South (Christopher, 2002). All these measures were intended to safeguard the kingship. Kasfir (1976) posited that prior to independence, the Buganda kingdom therefore became more  resolute in the  demands for self-determination to the extent that it was proposed either the Kabaka would become the Head of State of Uganda after independence, or Buganda would secede. As noted by Rukooko (2001) the consequences were that the kingdom boycotted the independence elections and as a result only 3% of the Buganda population voted.
Considering the lack of political parties with national support and the focus on questions relating only to Buganda, the sub-national character of politics was confirmed in the period leading up to independence. The lack of focus on the national level can partly be explained by the nature of the colonial policy, which emphasized, rather than removed, differences. The districts, the units for local government in the protectorate, had been developed as if they were independent of each other since this was considered the easiest way for the British to maintain control in the protectorate. This, according to Karugire (1996) particularly affected Buganda where people felt attached to Buganda and showed little loyalty to Uganda as a nation. The Independence Constitution of 1962 further confirmed the development of sectarianism. The fundamental constitutional problems were to decide what form of government would be suitable for an independent Uganda, and who should be the head of state. The various kingdoms had more or less been governed as autonomous areas, and it was therefore necessary to create a national system presided over by a universally accepted head of state. As a result, Odongo (2000) argued that the Independence Constitution provided for a semi-federal system. Buganda achieved a full federal status, while the kingdoms of Ankole, Bunyoro, Toro, and the territory of Busoga were granted a semi-federal status (Constitution, 1962: Article 2). The rest of the districts were accorded a unitary status with the central government. The Independence Constitution accordingly consisted of elements of unitarism, federalism and semi-federalism, considered as a challenging foundation for a peaceful and united nation (Mutibwa, 1992). In this sense, the constitution certainly supported the idea of Buganda as a strong unit within Uganda but with limited authority compared to what the King had during the pre-colonial and colonial era.
In 1963 the Independence Constitution was amended to provide for a constitutional president of Uganda as head of state. Since the head of state could not be a commoner or a politician, the election was limited to hereditary rulers and constitutional heads of districts (Mutibwa, 1990). Accordingly, Mutesa II functioned as king for Buganda, and President for the nation Uganda. This meant that the King maintained discretionary powers to appoint traditional leaders (chiefs) through the Buganda bureaucracy while at the same time preside over the formal government system where the true bureaucratic mechanisms set up by the British colonialists were operational. In the following years the relationship between the President whose power was also derived from the traditional systems  of  government and the elected Prime Minister with powers to control the mainstream bureaucracy systems caused considerable antagonism.
The 1966 crisis
The events that took place in 1966, which eventually led to the abolition of kingships have to a considerable extent impacted on successive regimes and bureaucratic institutions in Buganda and the wider Uganda. All regimes have faced pressure from the Baganda to restore their Kabaka and the return to the position of pre-eminence enjoyed until the pre-colonial and colonial times. In Rukooko’s (2001) opinion, when Prime Minister Obote suspended the Independence Constitution in 1966, and introduced a new interim constitution, the relationship between the central government and Buganda further deteriorated. The new constitution increased the power of the centre at the expense of the kingdoms and the districts. In addition, Mutesa II was removed from the presidency, the prime minister post was abolished, the powers of the presidency were extended, and Obote declared himself executive president.
The 1966 constitution certainly attacked federalism and monarchism, and changes were introduced which weakened the powers of the Kabaka and the Buganda government. As a reaction to the new constitution, the Buganda government passed a motion ordering the central government to remove itself from the soil of Buganda. The resolution was in itself futile since the Kingdom did not possess one of the key instruments of power; the army; to enforce their decree. And since Mutesa II could not accept the new decisions made by central government which deprived him of powers to run the Kingdom bureaucracy, the conflict culminated in an assault on the Kabaka’s palace by troops from the Uganda Army. This, according to Oloka-Onyango (1997), caused Mutesa II to flee into English exile where he died in 1969 giving Obote the opportunity to consolidate his position in power. The brutality which ensued during Obote’s and that the subsequent one lead by President Idi Amin forced Buganda to suspend their demand to restore the monarch; the privileged position and therefore control of the state bureaucracy initially enjoyed was lost until the National Resistance Movement (NRM) came into power in 1985.  In essence, Buganda Kingdom lost of control over its own bureaucracy with the abolition of the monarch. It can be concluded that after the 1966 crisis, the Buganda bureaucracy went into abeyance.   
The ascent of the NRM into political power soon ignited the demands for restoration of Buganda traditional ruler and the kingdom’s political power.  Their demands were to some extent addressed in 1993 when the incumbent National Resistance Movement government decided to restore traditional rulers. On the 31st of July 1993 Prince Mutebi II was crowned as the 36th Kabaka  of  Buganda.
Hence, the Buganda kingdom was the first kingdom to be restored. Opposed to the political character of the institution in the past, the restored institution of kingship was confined to cultural functions. Kayunga (2001) argues that this implied that the institution changed from being a functioning state; with its attendant bureaucracy within the Ugandan state, to an institution located outside the political sphere and the formal state structure. The King attempted to restore the administrative hierarchy composed of the Supreme Council, which had acted as the advising council of Mutebi II since he returned to Uganda, and transformed into the Lukiiko. In addition, Mutebi II established what seemed like a modern cabinet, with a Katikkiro, or Chief Minister, and what does this mean to the bureaucracy ministries such as justice, finance, economic planning and local government. The resurrection of the Lukiiko meant that the institution of kingship had restored important elements of its former administrative structures. Considering that the institution was restored as a cultural institution, some have questioned the need for governmental and organisational structures. The administrative structures are not recognised in the constitution and therefore have no legal basis and cannot exercise bureaucratic functions of a state (Constitution, 1995: Article 246). The implication was that the Kingdom had lost control of the state bureaucracy which triggered the demand for a federal state structure with executive powers. This has continuously dominated the political debate in Uganda to date, with significant influence in the electoral processes in the 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2011 presidential elections. Linked to the increasing executive dominance witnessed in Uganda and most recently seen through the removal of term limits for the presidency, and the more sophisticate bureaucratic mechanisms in the central government, the paper holds that the bargaining power of the monarchists to regain bureaucratic power has visibly and continuously diminished since 1995. The monarch will continue to exercise the relics of bureaucracy to the extent it has control over its traditional institutions which in essence have not direct influence to the mainstream government bureaucracy.
The current state of affairs
Currently, the Buganda bureaucracy is operationalized through the monarch headed by the King with the Parliament as the supreme political organ. The executive arm is constituted by the cabinet headed by the Prime Minster (Katikkiro). County and sub county chiefs as well parish chiefs represent the interests of the Kingdom at the lower level. In the main, the current bureaucracy has been reduced to mobilizing the population towards social development albeit with virtually no discretionary powers or the main constituents’ characteristic of functional bureaucracies as espoused by Max (1887).  



This paper provides a theoretical progression analysis of the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial bureaucracy in Buganda.  It first analyses the pre Weberian definition of bureaucracy which existed during the pre-colonial era in the Buganda monarch where the system of government was managed by unelected career officials. In this sense bureaucracy was seen as a distinct form of government, with the King holding absolute powers of establishing the administrative hierarchy, appointing chiefs and other traditional leaders based on capabilities in warfare. The rules and regulations were not written but were executed with loyalty by chiefs who were subordinate to the King.
With the advent of colonialism, the well developed pre-colonial administrative structures were taken advantage of by the British colonialists to exercise their rule and mainly played a supervisory role. During this era, the bureaucratic machinery had dual lineage where on one hand, the chiefs paid allegiance to the cultural institution as well as the British administration on the other hand.  This enabled Buganda to expand its influence to other regions of Uganda and establish its influence. The increasing agitation for self rule ignited the pressure for independence thus setting the stage for transformation of the governance system through elected leaders. This had an effect on the bureaucracy in Buganda where initially the King had both presidential and Kingship responsibility. Managing the two rather contrasting forms of government resulted into conflicts which saw the abolition of the monarch and its inherent bureaucracy. With capture of state power by NRM, the monarch was reinstated albeit with only a cultural mandate where the form of bureaucracy was limited to reestablishment of the Lukiiko, the cabinet and chiefs; a replica of the pre-colonial and colonial monarch. This was similar to the established strong central government bureaucratic system constituted by the civil service. Without the means to fund its bureaucracy, and the lack of supportive legislation, the current Buganda monarch remains a shadow of its former self, agitation for federal status notwithstanding. The increasing demand for accountable government will continue to undermine the institution of the Buganda monarch especially where entrusting the public resources to unelected officials minimizes their relationship with the populace. In conclusion therefore, it can be argued that the pre-colonial Buganda monarchists achieved their first goal, the restoration of the institution of kingship, through a bargaining process with NRM. However, their second goal, federalism, which would combine bureaucratic powers vested in the monarch and the state apparatus has never been achieved. The quasi-state which Buganda has put in place that resembles a modern cabinet with a chief minister and ministers; and the local administrative system with a network of county and sub-county chiefs; to a large extent overlaps the official  state   structure   based   on   districts   and   local councils. The restriction by the 1995 constitution which prevents the traditional rulers from levying taxes and the currently irregular transfers from the central government continue to fuels the demands for a federal status hoping that the institution will be granted fiscal powers and be able to fund their bureaucracy (Kayunga, 2001). It is however, unlikely that the current NRM government will give in to the demands for federalism where the Kingdom can exercise a fully constituted bureaucracy.



The author has not declared any conflict of interests.


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