The presence of EALA (East African Legislative Assembly) members in Kampala, where they arrived two days ago to assess the implementation and impact of various tourism and wildlife related programmes the East African Community has currently underway, was also used by ‘friends of the museum’ who enlisted the support of EALA delegates.
The museum is presently threatened with being knocked down to construct a high rise building, supposed to house the ministry of tourism and the tourist board, amongst others and these plans have raised strong opposition, as the land on which the national museum is located is extensive and offers other options. Yet, died in the wool bureaucrats and it has been suggested they have their own agenda over the project, insist that they must go ahead and raze one of Uganda’s most valuable post independence buildings with no regard of heritage, tradition and preservation.
In fact it was learned that one faction within the ministry, charged with overseeing the museums and monuments in the country, was categorically opposed to the plans, but being only of ‘minor’ interest and influence within the ministry’s bureau’cracy’ – pun intended – their pleas and submissions would likely be casually waved off like one keeps flies away. One source in particular has in fact suggested that the powers that be at the ministry have constantly cut down budget allocations to the museum meant for regular maintenance and upkeep so as to create ‘a dilapidated scenario’ giving them another reason to propose knocking the building down. This, while not independently verified, is however entirely plausible, knowing the modus operandum of our bureaucrats.
The parliamentary committee on tourism too has now gotten involved, and has already threatened to block any plans and lobby for the withholding of funds to the project, which they termed a ‘national heritage’, after meeting with their EALA counterparts at parliament building yesterday. Indeed, while there are many museums scattered around the country, and often critically underfunded, the national museum is a treasure hive for both locals and foreign visitors about the long history of the country’s kingdoms, the pre- and post independence periods and has much to offer, besides the sheer aesthetic value of the building itself.
The tourism ministry has of late been in the media for all the wrong reasons, mainly over the saga surrounding the Uganda Wildlife Authority, where in particular the minister himself is accused of having created the crisis by making blatantly wrong and biased decisions, an allegation supported by past decisions of the High Court in Kampala which threw out the board appointments made by the minister, from which all the troubles stemmed.