A section of Members of Parliament including those who subscribe to the ruling National Resistance Movement and Independents on Wednesday challenged the planned move by the NRM caucus to table a bill on the removal of the presidential age limit.
The plan to scrap Article 102 (b) from the Constitition was unveiled on Tuesday by a section of NRM MPs, a party that enjoy a majority in Parliament.
However, Mr Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemigaga), Mr Muhammed Nsereko (Kampala Central), Mr Banabas Tinkasimire (Buyaga West), Mr Felix Okot Ogong (Dokolo South), Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East) and John Baptist Nambashe (NRM Manjiya) addressed journalists on Wednesday and below is what some of them said to reject the plan which they say is intended to rape the 1995 Constitution.
John Baptist Nambeshe (NRM Manjiya)
This is what Nyerere said when he was similarly under pressure from sycophants and self-seekers mobbed him like it is happening here. That Nyerere, even when we are about to get to multiparty dispensation, you are a wonderful leader.
After these 24 years, you must be the pioneer leader under the multiparty dispensation. He looked straight in their faces and actually blasted them. He said you are the enemies of Tanzania. You are sycophants and self-seekers. The best time for a leader to relinquish power is when you have some semblance of popularity. Is when you still have some semblance of support.
And two, he said; you can never be after you have taken so many years, a long duration of time in power, you can never be a successful leader until you see your successor succeed. But the mentee [ of Nyerere President Museveni] who even at one time confessed in the a jamboree of meetings with the youth, that the challenge we have in Africa is for African leaders to overstay in power.
He has turned around as the very person that must be reminded, guided and counselled that it would be wrong for him at this time to interfere with his good legacy. He should be the first person ever, to oversee a peaceful transfer of power from one leader to another.
He should be the superintendent to see the Constitution that was made during his tenure of office.
Articles like this one of presidential age limit, he should see it function. And in my view, colleagues of the ruling party who have been agitating for the removal of this presidential age limit are in total contempt of the directive of Parliament. Because the Speaker [Rebecca Kadaga] was unequivocally clear, when this matter came up; she warned that there should be no other debate in the public domain on this matter and they have resurrected it. This is total disobedience or defiance of that directive.
I join colleagues to say that Ugandans at this time round, even if the reason is, they are very constrained on the part of the ruling party or the members who have been scratched with money; these are huge sums of money we are talking about, appointments and pledges of other fraudulent inducements, Ugandans, this is not the time to throw our hands in the air and we look on as the Constitution is being abrogated by mob justice. This is a mob that must be fought with all the strength, including the utmost point of our atoms in our life.
Buyaga West MP Barnabas Tinkasimiire, one of the MPs opposed to the lifting of presidential age limut speaks to journalists at Parliament on Wednesday. Right is Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo. Photo by Alex Esagala.
I am aware that there are threats but no amount of threats, no amount of money, no amount of pledge for appointment even if I remained alone as Nambeshe John Baptist, in my lifetime I have seen it all. No amount will change me.
Look at Eastern Uganda; if you are talking of a dichotomy between of the haves and have-nots, Eastern Uganda is at the tail end. It is so impoverished. What we see is a continuous fragmentation of this part of the region, in order to divide it and rule it. If you were to pose a fundamental question on the sharing of the national cake, are we waiters or dinners? Or have we been turned into the food to be eaten on the dinner of the national cake? And indeed you ask the other critical question of whether we are on the table or under the table. Or we are merely waiting on others to eat as we clean the table?
Enough is enough and that is why I raise a clarion call on those who matter; the youth of this country, do not be cajoled, or rather intimidated or threatened. This is the time to join us to uphold, defend, and protect the Constitution. So help me God.
Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East)
Either we stop calling it the Constitution of Uganda and call it the Constitution of NRM and Museveni, and we fold our hands and let the country go to the dogs as it surely will, unless citizens resist this and all of us take the mantle to stop this business of people raping our Constitution.
The only option now that will be available should these schemers go through, is to let country either blast into war and we go either the Zimbabwe way or Somalia way, or all Ugandans join hands to put pressure on their MPs to look at the country and its history. And look at the future of this country and stop this business or raping our Constitution.
The flamers of the 1995 Constitution who put age limits in the Constitution had both the historical, social and scientific reasons to do so. I laugh at their argument that let’s now remove the minimum age to 18. If you are talking of the age being a limit, then, if you are saying limit the age is unconstitutional, then open up for babies also, so that even those who are born today can stand and vote.
I think Ugandans should not be taken for a ride and I hope Ugandans will take it upon themselves on each individual MP who is in this process of raping the Constitution to pay for his greed and sins. Of course I know this is President Museveni’s machinations. I know a person he told in 1996, unfortunately he passed on, but the late Sam Njuba told me.
He told him he will only think of retiring in 2026. So, it has always been his mission to rule until he dies.
But how is he going to leave this country at the time he has passed on? I hope Ugandans are there to judge.
The individual MPs who have agreed to be used and induced into this cacophony, and I hope at an appropriate time, sense will prevail and that those who are in the cause for fighting for good governance and democracy will prevail. And I am sure with the support of Ugandans especially you the media, religious leaders and everybody.
The resistance we have put on his quest to take out land should be the same amount of resistance and force we must put on his quest to rule until he dies. So, it is now that we do it or forever we shall cry with our children and grandchildren. I thank you.
Mohammed Nsereko (Kampala Central MP)
Yet again, our country is met at crossroads and at a time when a fundamental decision is about to be taken. Bearing in mind that the history of our nation was based on trickery and turbulence from the time we attained independence in 1962, we were ushered into a Constitutional trickery by the late Milton Obote and his henchmen at the time.
In 1966, the late Obote overthrew a legitimate government and declared himself, the president of the Republic of Uganda.
Unfortunately, all that took place in the precincts or around the place where we are today. In 1967, Obote and his sycophants came up with a bogus Constitution that they imposed onto Ugandans that was used to reign onto us until 1971, when the late Idi Amin Dada overthrew the same government.
The same reasons were put forward by those who opposed those persons that they had used their majority fraudulently to usurp the powers of the people of Uganda.
In 1980, we had fraudulent and bogus elections where President Museveni even when he did not come second, he said that his votes had been rigged. He gathered a few members and went to the bush to liberate not only himself but also Ugandans.
In 1986, on the doorsteps of this Parliament, the President of the republic clearly said that this is not a mere change of guards, but a fundamental change.
The Ugandans ululated and chanted in happened welcoming a liberator not knowing that as times would go by, history would repeat itself. Within the same premises of Parliament today, or yesterday, we witnessed a multitude of selfish individuals; others had been hoodwinked while others clearly knew of the plan of what they were mooting.
Rightly said by my honourable colleagues, they are talking about the unthinkable.
Altering toe constitution of the republic through the use of their irresponsible numbers that have mutually consented to do something that is not only bogus but also that would go down to them as one of the most stupid acts that members of Parliament have done.
We have been to these MPs to many countries. People look down upon us with despise and shame. At least look at Kenya, look at the degree of sanity and democracy. Look at the transition from Kenyatta to Moi from Moi to Kibaki from Kibaki to Uhuru and to the extent that the Supreme Court can even overturn elections and still peaceful.
So what are these individuals talking about? That there is discrimination, with their hollowness in law, they come here to talk about discrimination? Don’t they know that they are here as a subject of discriminatory acts? For example, you cannot be eligible to be a Member of Parliament unless you qualify to be of a minimum education level of Advanced level.
Definitely I saw some of them and most have questionable papers and you would see how they were chanting because they were let off the noose by just mere calls from certain individuals. That is why they are here. No wonder, look at all those that spoke yesterday (Tuesday) and look for their names on the Hansard, they have either been contributing rubbish or they have silent throughout their tenure and career.
The first blame goes to the following; you voters, all the time you say mutuyambe (come to our rescue you outspoken MPs], how many are we? When you send here hollow people, that’s what you expect. You reap what you sow. Proud are those that voted for these honourable members of Parliament as they will walk with their heads high. But shame on to those from whose constituencies those other MPs emanate.
Go to them and tell them we did not send you to exactly do this. I don’t have time to discuss President Museveni. Some of us are Independent. We are not NRM, we are Independent. We were expelled from this party (NRM), because we spoke our mind. We are happy because we stand for the same values we are back together on the table. We have always been together because something that binds us together is speak the truth even when it hurts.
He has tried to disintegrate and fight us using rumours and all sorts of things thrown at us but we can never disintegrate and numbers are growing and swelling.
What are we saying? We wish the best to our nation. How shall we answer to our children? That for mere bribes and promises of positions [appointments], people changed positions and sold their nation for salt. They sold their hearts for salt. We cannot trade our nation.
Therefore, the way forward, Ugandans, we can do the following and start with this;
Every one of you WhatsApp, use social media, use whatever you have. Call all your MPs and make their line busy. Call them. Who sent you to do this? You Honourable Magezi, who sent you to exactly do this? I have heard the people from Bushenyi because we also have families and relatives from the greater Bushenyi saying that that’s not the Magyezi we sent…..
The Magyezi we sent was brighter than that. Therefore with due respect to our comrades, you have opened a can of worms. We already told you don’t go that direction.
We heard the President calling you idlers that that are discussing the issue of age limit are either idlers or have shallow minds. Ask them, let them give you four reasons as to why they think that the most urgent issue we have is the amendment of the Constitution to defeat the age limit. Let them justify that as people go without drugs in hospitals? As mothers die while giving birth? As schools are there unattended to? As roads are filled with potholes with open sewage?
L-R: Felix Okot Ogongo, Barnabas Tinkasimiire, Theodore Ssekikubo and Mohammed Nsereko during the press conference at Parliament. Photo by Alex Esagala.
And they have time, for the first time in the history of governance, ministers who are members of Cabinet were mooting for a private members bill. That is a vote of no confidence in Cabinet and you saw them swinging their stomachs around, saying no, we are going to vouch for a private members bill. Why don’t you resign from Cabinet?
That we are dissatisfied with the Cabinet position that we have a directive from Supreme Court and within two years, one of our members has not brought the Constitutional amendments. And a full minister is coming into an informal meeting and speaking against other ministers in a caucus? I don’t know whether that one was a malwa club or something of that sort where they were sitting.
Therefore, we urge our colleagues that this is not going to go down well. If it demands that we shall disrupt, try to bring on Thursday and you see. We are ready for a battle within Parliament. No one will read that bill. Unless he is going to be surrounded by all of you, you won’t read it. We shall grab it, we shall tear it. We shall do everything that is possible.
We won’t let you speak on that floor of Parliament and we can assure Ugandans that even if we remain four, they won’t present it. We shall do everything, we won’t tell you everything now, but can assure you; the Speaker won’t preside over that House. Unless he is saying we suspend this Parliament. We are not ready for this madness. You have seen Parliaments go rowdy, this one will be the rowdiest. Let them come prepared; we are going to the gym.
But as we do that, members of the public also you drum. Be there drumming. In churches, where are the religious leaders? Where are you? On the Marriage and Divorce you were very vocal. Do not touch our marriage and divorce. That is where you are. You have only keen interest because people come to you to get marriage certificates? Is that your only point of interest? I urge the Episcopal Council to come out, Mufti, come out. Dr Ntagali, Anglican come out! You praise Janan Luwum for his heroic acts, where are you? You have even dedicated a day for him, where are you? Why are you burying your heads in the sand when the country is going to the dogs?
Cultural leaders where are you? When it came to land everyone was there [opposed it]. Because you earn from land? Who determines the policies on land? Article 26, we shall not accept on land. He [Museveni] talking on radios, the game ends in Parliament. We will not accept.
But so is the case as cultural leaders talked about land, talk about this insanity of people thinking they will govern people in shame as if they are only people anointed by God to govern us. Enough is enough for this country.
All those people in the Diaspora, the first steps we are going to take, if you are too weak and you think because there are three ways you can use to oppose, one; you can use your hands, two; use your tongue, three; you detest it.
Let him come to attend last funeral rites and you all walk away. Leave him there in shame. Raphael Magyezi, leave him there in shame. He comes to church, you walk away. Detest them and annihilate them without beating them or threatening them. Isolate them because they are moving this country into an isolation corner.
Finally I remind you Mr President, those that are mooting this, wish you not well but badly because a senior person, a grandfather, a grandparent, how will talk to your grandchildren telling them to stand by the truth?
When you are on camera saying that a leader above 75 [years] is not active enough. And when the question was posed to you, by Kamala [Patrick, NTV talk show host], that do you think you will stand beyond 75, you said certainly not. How will you tell your grandchildren that stand by the truth? Who will respect your children? Who will respect you? Live by your legacy. Not because you are a bad person, not because you have not done anything good for the country.
The good that you have done for the country everyone knows. The bad things you have done also everyone knows. Now it should be the time to talk about an amendment to see which privileges you will get as a retired leader of this nation. Not even to talk about succession. It will shape itself. Ugandans will choose what privileges you get? Will you remain with one car or two? Shall we build you a house or not? Shall we give you assistants to attend to you or not?