The Consul General at Nairobi (Dorsz) to the Department of State

official use only
No. 214


  • Buganda Constitutional Reforms

Summary. Amidst nationalist agitation which forced him to discontinue his speech, the Governor of Uganda announced that the Great Lukiko would, after constitutional reforms have been successfully put into practice, be allowed to choose whether to elect a new Kabaka or elect the return of the exiled Kabaka, Mutesa II. Whoever is chosen as Kabaka must accept the constitutional reforms and must abide by the Agreement of 1900 which forms the basis of the relationship between Buganda and the Protectorate Government.

The reforms proposed make the Kabaka a constitutional monarch, vest the conduct of public affairs in an expanded Cabinet, and emphasize the unity of the Uganda Protectorate, including a recommendation that a common Uganda citizenship be created to foster such unity. End Summary.

Enclosed herewith in five copies are reports appearing in the East African Standard of November 16, 1954 relating to new constitutional changes in Buganda.1

It will be recalled that recently a judgment by the Chief Justice of Uganda upheld the United Kingdom’s right to withdraw recognition from the Kabaka Mutesa II (despatch 189 November 8).2 This judgment was issued however in rather obscure legalese and also held that the United Kingdom had made an error in choosing the wrong provision of the 1900 Agreement under which to act. There was almost [Page 374]universal misinterpretation of the judgment by the Buganda which only served to increase the already heavy pressure for return of the Kabaka inspired by nationalist elements. At the time the judgment was announced, the Governor, Sir Andrew Cohen, was in London conferring with the Colonial Office. Meanwhile there were widespread rumors (despatch 189) that the United Kingdom had no choice, in view of the heavy popular pressure, but to permit the return of the Kabaka, albeit circumscribing his powers under constitutional reforms drawn up by Sir Keith Hancock3 and accepted by the Protectorate Government and by a Constitutional Committee of the Great Lukiko. As it turned out, these rumors were almost correct. The Governor of Uganda and the United Kingdom Colonial Secretary4 announced simultaneously in Kampala and London respectively, that the Great Lukiko will have the choice either to choose a new Kabaka or return Mutesa II after the Hancock Constitutional reforms are in effect for nine months (beginning March 31, 1955) or for such lesser period of time as it appears the recommendations have been successfully put into practice. The then Kabaka, whoever he is, must agree to abide by the new reforms and by the 1900 Agreement which is to be appropriately amended to conform to the new constitutional changes.

The Hancock Report is said to contain some fifty articles but the key provisions, which make far-reaching inroads into the Kabaka’s powers, are the following:

The first article states that the Kingdom of Buganda shall continue as heretofore to be an integral part of Uganda. (Thus nullifying the October 16 resolution of the Lukiko which endeavored to set a time table for the independence of Buganda and the transfer of its affairs from the United Kingdom Colonial Office to the Foreign Office.)
An expanded (from three to six) Council of Ministers is to have responsibility for the conduct of public affairs in Buganda. It is to consult the Protectorate Government through elaborate machinery to be established (see below) and in event of dispute between the two the Governor-in-Council is empowered to give the Cabinet formal advice. If the advice is not accepted, the Governor-in-Council is empowered to dismiss the Cabinet.
The Kabaka will appoint the Ministers of the Cabinet but only after the Lukiko has elected them and the Governor has approved of them.
The Kabaka will sign all laws but the Governor may act within his discretion in approving any laws passed by the Lukiko except that where questions of principle are involved he must consult the Executive Council of the Protectorate Government.
A Speaker of the Lukiko is to be elected who will have wide powers of legislative management including deciding when motions of “no confidence” in the Cabinet shall be put to debate and vote.
Extensive machinery for consultations among the Cabinet, the Lukiko and the Protectorate Government is to be established with respect to education, health, natural resources, local government and community development.
The Resident, who shall be the Governor’s representative in dealing with the Buganda Government, shall together with the Katikiro (Prime Minister) of Buganda draw up a program for local government. Certain responsibilities will be transferred to local government bodies as soon as they are firmly established.
The British Government is asked to create a Uganda citizenship “whereby a sense of unity may be fostered”.

The Governor was interrupted and forced to discontinue his speech by agitators (not members of the Lukiko) who demanded inter alia that the Hancock Report be rejected. I. K. Musazi5 of the Uganda National Congress has issued a statement that the report should not be considered by the Lukiko until Mutesa is returned. The Lukiko has formally apologized to the Governor for the interruption of his speech but radio reports have been received that a resolution favoring the return of Mutesa has already been adopted by the Lukiko. In any case few observers believe the Lukiko can do other than elect the return of Mutesa. The Lukiko has been adjourned for two weeks to consider the Hancock Report.

In abandoning its previous inflexible position regarding return of Mutesa II, the United Kingdom has made a great concession to the Buganda nationalist movement. In the Consulate General’s opinion, however, there is cause for concern in the proposed timetable for decision (presumably nine months after March 31). If reports reaching the Consulate General are correct, a very ugly mood prevails in Buganda which months of continued debate are not likely to alleviate. Since the only possible candidate for Kabaka appears to be Mutesa II, the United Kingdom is in a difficult position to make the concession which Buganda nationalists are demanding, namely, bring Mutesa II back as Kabaka before agreeing to Sir Keith Hancock’s proposals for constitutional reform.

Edmund J. Dorsz
  1. None printed.
  2. Not printed; it reported that Chief Justice J. B. Griffin had ruled that the withdrawal of recognition should have been based on Article 20 and not Article 6 of the 1900 Agreement. (745S.00/11–854)
  3. Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.
  4. Alan Lennox-Boyd had succeeded Lyttelton as Colonial Secretary on July 28, 1954.
  5. The Uganda National Congress led by Ignatio Musazi favored the unification of all the peoples of Uganda and the achievement of self-government.