Uganda’s Members of Parliament (MPs) are probably taking queue from a common adage that when the going gets tough, the tough must get going. This adage quite fits into the current stand-off in Parliament between supporters of the ruling government and the Opposition MPs.
The Opposition MPs have threatened to fight the removal of Presidential term limits from the Constitution even if it means exposing their nudity.
The MPs say that they will strip naked to save Uganda from undergoing a nose dive in its democratic governance path by ensuring that rule of law prevails.
The stand-off follows the planned tabling of a private members bill to amend sections of the 1995 Constitution to remove the Presidential age limit from 75 years by Nakifuma County MP Kafeero Ssekitooleko.
Ssekitooleko had on Tuesday planned to table a private member’s bill to amend the constitution, although the House didn’t sit due to absence of both Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanya. Media reports said that Opposition MPs had threatened to protest the bill.
Kalungu West MP Gonzaga Sserumaga said: “We were well armed that evening with our whistles with an objective to disrupt the debate on that damn bill and in case the speaker forcefully went on with it, women were prepared to strip naked,” Kalungu West Members of Parliament Gonzaga Ssewungu.
He was supported by Opposition Chief Whip Ssemuju Nganda who told The Sunrise that tougher battles await the House until “this damn bill is defeated.”
“This stupidity will not be allowed to continue. We have laid out a plan to kill it and we are going to do every thing possible to achieve that objective,” Ssemuju vowed.
Explaining the background of the bill, Ssemuju told accused EC boss Engineer Hajj Badru Kiggundu of being behind the plot saying: “Ssekitooleko is just a proxy, acting on behalf of a clique of people whose terms in office are coming to an end including judges and electoral Commission (EC) officials including (EC) Chairman Engineer Badru Kiggundu one of whom he particularly accuses of masterminding the controversial bill.
“Of course if it is allowed to succeed it will have paved a way for lifting the age limit for President Museveni and they are using this as a rehearsal,” he added.
Parliament’s Assistant Director of Communication Ranny Ismail has attributed the suspension to what he called ” a technical matter ” explaining that the Speaker had just returned from Mauritius making it technically impossible to follow up on a matter whose debate had been started in her absence without getting a brief from the Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanya.
But Shadow minister for Local government Betty Bakireke Nambooze has dismissed that as a naked lie.
She told The Sunrise that she (Kadaga) had no choice but to avoid what she termed untold embarrassment she was set to suffer if that seating was allowed to proceed.
Nambooze revealed that part of the drama preempted by that suspension was earlier hatched in a shadow cabinet meeting earlier in the day.
Kilak North County MP Anthony Akol was set to lay on table the exhibits including a bag of sugar and one Million Uganda shillings allegedly dished out by Ssekitoleko to members of the parliamentary forum for Agriculture at a Jinja meeting last week bribing them to support the bill.
“NRM’s spies within our shadow cabinet tipped her (Kadaga) and am sure she decided to run away from such embarrassment” Nambooze said.
“We call upon the good people of Nakifuma to call Ssekitoleko to return to order by disowning and dismissing this bill,” Ssewungu said.
But Ssekitoleeko has short back vowing not to be threatened by what he called cowardly and realistic legislators.
“The Constitution itself provides for constitutional amendments where there is a necessity and that is why this hullabaloo is not called for,” Ssekitoleko said.