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Now it is Age: Continuous Constitutional Change

Ikebesi Omoding

Now it is Age: Continuous Constitutional Change

President Yoweri Museveni

President Yoweri Museveni. Is Ssekitooleko’s proposed amendment meant to benefit the sitting President?

 

For some time now, muted talk about amending Article 102 of the 1995 Constitution.

That Article spells out the age limit of 75 years at which a president may serve in office. In other words, when a person in office reaches that age, even before the elective term of the five years in the office has arrived, he/she is no longer eligible to be in that office; that the person has to step aside.

Part of Clause (b) of the “offending” Article, briefly and simply states that the person must be “not more than seventy-five years of age.”

Going by that legal precept, it would mean that if, for instance, a person stood for an election to that office at the age of 74 years of age, and was elected, by reasoning, it would mean that the person would only serve for one year and surrender the four remaining years of his/her term. What happens thereafter would be dealt with by another legal precept and emergency.

What Nakifuna MP, Kafeero Ssekitoleko and his North Dokolo colleague, Peter Amoru, are doing by filibustering through going to the retirement age of the judges, and the extension of the mandate of the Electoral commissioners, is merely to detour to develop a legal precedent to bring up the issue of the presidential term limit. The aim, of course, is to address President Yoweri Museveni’s forthcoming tenure of office.

These things are normally decided before hand by the NRM regime’s caucus, the latest of which was recently done in Kyankwanzi. When it comes as a motion in Parliament, it is a mere rubber stamp by reason of the majority; and also the usual sweeteners.

There are mainly two reasons for this. Firstly, by his presently declared age, Museveni would be 75 years – before this present term office arrives in 2016. It would mean that he would then have to quit the office.

More importantly, if the Ssekitoleko’s motion turns to the president’s incumbency, as it is sure to do, it means that when the presidential term limit is removed, that Museveni would be eligible to stand for office as long as he wants. It reminds one of Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, 92, who is gearing to stand for another term in a year’s time.

The joke he made some time ago, though ludicrous, is most appropriate. He said that most African presidents see that when their five, or seven year, terms expire, they realize that they have been in office for what seems to be a mere fortnight; so they want to continue. Given that reasoning, perhaps the most reasonable of all African leaders, was that “buffoon”, Idi Amin Dada, who simply decreed that he was to be, a “Life President”. With this, there is no need for term limits, talk of democracy or grandstanding.

This maybe the reason the Women 4 Uganda activists are appealing to their fellow woman and Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, to stifle the Ssekitoleko motion before it goes to the floor of the House for voting.

When it reaches there, the results are pretty obvious, that the “Ayes” will have it. The group has some memorable women who have been heavyweights in the regime; they are headed by Joyce Mpanga, and boasting such former luminaries like, Miria Matembe and Edith Ssempala.

Ardent Movementists like, Nathan Buturo, the former erstwhile minister of Ethics and Integrity, have sprung to the side of the women activists, realizing that the constitution is in danger of being mangled to suit private gain. But who cares about the Constitution? It was formulated for the purposes for which it has finished serving up to this point; and it can therefore be thrown aside to satisfy other whims.

Uganda has undergone some cataclysmic changes that have wrought collective damage to the morality and the psyche of the population; and beaten into submission. The principles of order, etiquette and patriotism have been thrown to the winds; and only mouthed when it suits the convoluted purposes of the person intending to abuse them. Some of the things politicians in public life show defy the right mind of common sense.

And the MPs, almost to the man or woman, have acted for personal benefit in what they are doing. Often, it has been a case of what Chinese Mao Tse Dong, termed, “[imperialist – or in this case – ‘eating’] running dogs” and sycophants.

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