Peace Mutuuzo, state minister for Gender and Culture

The Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Gender and Culture have failed to reach an agreement on the proposal to have museums and monuments in Uganda be regulated under one Ministry, saying the two agencies have been working in harmony with no need to merge the two entities to oversee the historical sites sector.

This was during a meeting held with Parliament’s Committee on Tourism and Trade that is currently considering the Museums and Monuments Bill 2022 that seeks to protect cultural and natural heritage resources and the environment, strengthen and provide set up of institutional structure for effective management of the museums and monuments and to prohibit illicit trafficking of protected objects and to promote local content of cultural and natural heritage.

Clause 8 of the Museum and Monuments Bill stipulates the roles of the Minister of Culture, giving them powers to formulate, review policies and legislation on culture and heritage promotion, preservation and development for museums and heritage sites in Uganda.

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However, a number of stakeholders were opposed to leaving these responsibilities to be handed over to the Ministry of Gender and Culture, arguing that the institution’s role is passive and instead proposed to have the Culture aspect of the Gender Ministry be merged with the Ministry of Tourism for effective monitoring and promotion of the historical sites.

The Committee had ordered the two Ministries of Culture and Tourism to harmonize their positions, but Minister of State for Culture, Peace Mutuzo accused officials from the Ministry of Tourism of betrayal, after they suggested to the Committee to have the Culture Ministry merged and taken to the Ministry of Tourism.

Minister Mutuzo informed the Committee that the two entities had agreed to have the tangible aspect of historical sites be regulated by the Ministry of Tourism, while the Ministry of Culture handles the intangible aspects that would fall under its watch.

“While we had harmonized and agreed that we are going to work separately, but in common, I would get shocked to see the Ministry which we have harmonized with and the position which we have come to defend here, deferring from what we have agreed on, I actually feel betrayed,” said Mutuzo.

She rejected the proposal to have her Ministry dragged back to the Ministry of Tourism, comparing the proposal to being raped.

“These two Ministries were separated 15years ago and for a purpose. Tourism can operate independently from the Ministry of Gender for as long as we can sit and harmonize on the things that bring us together. If you are proposing a marriage, you must seek for my consent, don’t come to rape here.”

However, Mwine Mpaka (Mbarara City South) said the Committee was forced to take a decision to have both the promotion of tangible and intangible historical sites be regulated under one Ministry, after the Culture Ministry failed to justify the role it plays in marketing and promotion of tourism in Uganda.

“So your justification is the reason why it can’t be taken to the Ministry of Culture is you would have been left with only wildlife, and you add the tourism value component to these sites, other than that, one Ministry can manage both. You have still not given us a justification on why one Ministry can’t manage both,” said Mwine.

But the Minister of State for Tourism, Martin Mugarra rejected the proposal for the merger of roles, saying the Tourism Committee has also failed to justify the need for the merger, because the Tourism and Culture Ministries have been managing the historical sites without any crisis.

He said:“We have been managing the museum since colonial times and nothing has happened, everything is okay. Because there is no management crisis, we aren’t losing the cultural history, let us not create a unique situation in Uganda, let us work like the others have been working. I still don’t see where the fear is. I am still trying to understand, what is it that you are trying to cure?”

Charles Okello (Nwoya East) however defended the Committee calling for the merger of the two entities saying they will be working for the same government and tasked the two Ministries to explain how they will register and regulate private entities as proposed in clause 18 of the bill.

“The Committee wanted to bring the two together… For us we think there are aspects that the law can help us to address. One of them is to bring participation of ordinary Ugandans on the issue of museums. Let us bring good faith on this table,” Okello said. 

The Museum and Monuments Bill 2022 seeks to repeal the Historical Monuments Act of 1967, Cap- 46, which the Government says has limited focus on preservation and protection of historical monuments, making it obsolete in terms of providing for a much wider cultural and natural heritage.