The King of Tooro Kingdom Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV has revived the Kingdom’s demand for its property that is in possession of the central government.
Addressing a closed door cabinet meeting at his palace in Fort Portal on Wednesday morning, King Oyo directed Steven Kaliba, the Kingdom Premier to write to the government demanding the return of the property. Oyo also directed Kaliba to form a team that will negotiate with the government to return the more than 70 kingdom properties which include land and buildings.
When kingdoms were abolished in 1966, properties that belonged to the institutions were taken over by the government.
Records from the Kingdom estates department obtained show that after the restoration of the Kingdom in 1993, the government returned only 15 out of the 75 properties to Tooro Kingdom. Some of the returned properties include the Burahya County headquarters at Butebe, three buildings in Fort Portal town and pieces of land in Kichwamba, Bukuku, Karambi and Kisomoro sub counties.
The properties the Kingdom is demanding from the government are located in Bundibugyo, Kasese, Kyenjojo and Kamwenge districts. Kasese and Bundibugyo were formerly under Tooro Kingdom until 2010 when Charles Wesley Mumbere was installed as Rwenzururu King.
In an interview with local media, the Omuhikirwa Kaliba said failure by the government to return the property has affected the kingdom financially. He says that if they are returned, the kingdom can rent them out and get income to sustain its activities and improve its financial base.
He also says the King has no funds required to implement some of the kingdom activities and instead turns to the government and friends of the Kingdom for support.
According to Kaliba, despite returning some of the Tooro property, the kingdom hasn’t been able to access them since they are being used by sub counties, schools and health facilities. He cites Block 4 plot 1 in Bundibugyo town occupied by Bundibugyo town council and land in Nyahuka occupied by Nyahuka Primary School. Kaliba says that government should instead compensate the kingdom.
Red Pepper Online has learnt from Kingdom sources that next month, there are plans by King Oyo and his cabinet to raise the matter when they meet President Museveni, who will be touring Kabarole district.
David Kaboyo, a member of the Kingdom Parliament, the Orukurato, says that the move by the King is good for the kingdom, but is quick to add that if the assets are returned they should be managed in a transparent manner and not be sold illegally or grabbed.
Tooro joins other cultural institutions like Buganda and Bunyoro, who are also demanding a return of their properties from the government.