By Michael Woira
At the start of this month the whole of social media and main stream media has been awash with stories related to the age limit constitutional amendment, members of parliament and many other elite politicians, NGOs and activists were all over radio talk shows, Television shows and some yearning to appear in front of any camera that passed by them mindless of whether it was from a media house or not.
It is this age limit hearsay discussions that have proved to me that very many people are seeking for sympathy and some just want to prove that they know something about politics because every person with a political idea has been debating something that has not even appeared in parliament or in any committee according to the recent speech on plenary by the speaker of parliament and the deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana.
As also a Ugandan who has always been silent at the murmur that has been ongoing,I personally feel it isn’t the right time to discuss what has not yet been tabled in parliament but in the meantime I can also submit in my thoughts on the topic.
First and foremost Uganda is a democratic country whose leadership is based on the Constitution which is the supreme law;the first Constitution was adopted in 1962 only to be replaced 4 years later in 1966. The 1966 Constitution, passed in a tense political environment and without debate, was replaced in 1967. The 1995 Constitution established Uganda as a republic with an executive, legislative, and judicial branch. The roles and powers of each of the Government arms are enshrined and spelt out in the Uganda Constitution 1995 but all in all the very first article in this constitution stipulates it out well that power belongs to the people and it’s the people to decide on which policies and laws to govern them through the various departments laid out by the government in power.
I am very sure that all Ugandans know that this country has been operating normally following the constitution since 1987 when president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni took over power and no alterations have been made in any part of the supreme law since all matters concerning the law are dealt with by the parliament of Uganda which is responsible for passing bills andfor this particular age limit lifting that has caused chaos all over, I openly state that I have no hesitation about limiting the age limit supposing the various acceptable stages are being followed because denying it at this early stage before it even goes through the stages openly shows that we are not abiding by the constitution yet it’s our role to protect and follow it.
Ever since this debate started, I have not heard of anyone saying that it’s unconstitutional but they are just saying we don’t want president Museveni to contest again because he is clocking 75 years!!,Scenarios where reforms have been made are in white and black all over the world and referendums have been organized for the electorates to decide but here it seems a few members of parliament and some elite class activists who are financially benefiting from the debate want to decide for we the local people. I say they will not, Kagame clocked 58 years last year and was ineligible to run in this year’s election because the Rwandan constitution limits a president to two terms but Rwandans approved his come back through a referendum and he can now take on Rwanda even until 2034 and this wasn’t breaking the law but following the constitution that allows citizens of the country to decide on their leadership.
Similarly, in Kenya on our neighborhood, the controversial upper age limit of 70 for a Presidential candidate, which would have barred President Kibaki from contesting the 2007 General Election was also dropped in 2004 from the draft Constitution and he was now free to contest for the presidency but am not sure some of our members of parliament and opposition leaders always do some research before appearing in front of the cameras and shouting at the radio talk shows.
The reasons that my fellow Ugandans are tabling against the lifting of the age limit are not satisfactory enough because many of them are the usual allegations and lamentations by the usual politically greedy politicians in the opposition and some from the Non-GovernmentOrganizations that almost all Ugandans know are earning because of being anti-government.
The fact should remain that age is just a number and we shouldn’t grade leadership according to age,some people have great experiences than the one we have so we shouldn’t look at issues in a kindergarten manner.
And for purposes of informing my fellow Ugandans, Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, of Kuwait clocked 87 years now but is still a good leader, Raul Castro, of Cuba is 83 years and has been in charge for almost a decade, Akihito of Japan clocked 81 and was still in leadership and very many other leaders all over the world and have made commendable developments in their countries just like Sabalwanyi has done in Uganda and it’s on this background that I ask fellow Ugandans to go slow on this issue and wait for the various bodies to deal with the amendments in case they exist and for sure we the local people must be the final people to decide on whether we support the idea or not because we are empowered by the constitution.