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Uganda: Voters to MPs – You Betrayed Us

Kampala.Parliament on Wednesday passed The Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2017 lifting the presidential age limit, restoring the term limits and extending the term of office from five to seven years.

A total of 317 MPs voted in favour of the amendment against the 97 who voted against the move.

The Bill saw heated resistance from both the members of the public and a section of MPs including some on the ruling side.

As a result, some of the MPs who voted in favour of the amendment have been accused by sections of their voters of defying their voices during the consultations to make an individual decision in Parliament.

In Bughendara County, Bundinbugyo District, the electorates have accused their MP and the State Minister for Agriculture, Mr Christopher Kibanzanga, of defying their mandate, and voting in favour of the amendment even when they had instructed him not to do so.
Mr Muhisya Maate, a resident, questioned whether the former FDC icon will be able to work with the local government leaders who opposed the amendment when he consulted in October.

“The people are bitter because our MP looked at his own benefit and did away with the wish of the people. We are waiting for him comfortably to answer in his own way,” Mr Maate said.

During consultations, Mr Kibanzanga was asked not to vote for the age limit removal before the long awaited unfulfilled presidential pledges of giving Bughendera district status, building a hospital and a technical institution, among others are fulfilled.

However, the minister, who is a founding member of FDC, said despite the fact that people of Bughendera opposed the age limit removal they are still predominantly members of the NRM.

“My vote was based on what the Baghendera want and also looking at the national vote. I, therefore, voted yes because it will help me to push for the demands of my people and I know at what stage they are. My vote also raises their hope to achieve their demands,” Mr Kibanzanga, who is also the chief prince of Rwenzururu Kingdom, said.

In Mpigi District, voters have praised Woman MP Sarah Nakawunde for voting against the amendment but castigated Trade Minister Amelia Kyambade (Mawokota South) and Mr John Bosco Lubyayi (Mawokota North) for betraying their wish by voting in favour of the Bill.
There were reports during consultations that the two MPs were openly told by the voters not to amend the Constitution.

“It would be awkward if Mr Lubyayi voted against the Bill because he’s the NRM district chairman in Mpigi. But, why did he fool us by saying he will go with our opinions of not touching on it?” Mr John Nsubuga, a resident of Buwama Town Council wondered,.
Mr Nsubuga added: “He and his colleagues from Mpigi who betrayed us need to apologise.”
Mr Lubyayi said he indeed drifted away from the will of the people to “stick to the party line”.

“It is true I had promised to vote against the age limit as majority of my voters wished but on the other hand I needed to go by the party line as NRM chairperson in Mpigi District. I was recently advised by party leaders in the district to go by the caucus position but I will go back and explain to the voters,” Mr Lubyayi said.
Ms Kyambadde was not available for a comment.

In Kayunga District, the MPs from the area voted for the amendment except Woman MP Aidah Nantaba who did not vote because she was out of the country.

It should be noted that during their consultations, the Kayunga MPs faced difficult times as voters refused to be lured into supporting the age limit removal.

At some point, voters decorated Ms Nantaba and Ntenjeru North MP Amos Lugoloobi with red ribbons a symbol for those opposed to the amendment.

However, Mr Lugoloobi, despite acknowledging the views of the voters, told Saturday Monitor that he voted for the amendment to maintain a good relationship with the government.

In Amuria District, the voters are not happy with the decision of their MPs. Mr Michael Ebucu, a resident of Kalaki Sub-county, says they told Kenneth Ongalo Obote, the Kalaki County MP, not to support the amendment but he voted against their wish.

“We wish him well for using our agony for lack of social services to cut deals. I was bitter seeing him say that his electorates supported the amendment,” Mr Ebucu said.

Voters in Bugisu sub-region expressed disappointment with their area MPs who supported the lifting of the presidential age limit against their wish.
Mr Robert Kabige, a voter in Budaka Town Council, said area MP Kezekia Mbogo failed to represent their views.

“During his consultative meeting, he assured us that he will take our views but when he reached Parliament, he presented his view,” Mr Kabige said.

Also, Ms Pamela Kamugo, the Budaka District Woman MP, was told not to support the amendment during her consultative meeting at Wilter Hotel in Budaka Town Council but she defied the directive of voters.

“She betrayed us and took her own decision. We are disappointed,” one of the voters identified as Petwa Naula, said.

The residents of Iki-Iki- County, who also rejected the move to amend the Constitution during a consultative meeting at Mugiti Sub-county, were left disgruntled after their area MP, Robert Kasolo, supported it.

In Busia District, the MP for Samia-Bugwe South MP, Mr Julius Maganda, was chased by angry residents in the sub-counties of Masafu and Mainya Masaba over supporting the age limit.

“We told him we don’t support it but he went ahead to say we support it, which is unacceptable,” Mr Joseph Opio, a voter, said.

Angry residents in Mollo Sub -county, Tororo County, who rejected the Bill and ordered their area MP, Ms Annet Nyekecho, not to dare support it were upset when she did.
“We were surprised when we saw her supporting it. We are waiting for her,” Ms Joan Oketch, said.

Mr John Musila, a voter in Manafwa District, said they were surprised when their area MP, Ms Rose Mutonyi, voted for the amendment of the Article 102 (b), saying she organised closed door meetings.

“She supported the lifting of the presidential age limit against our wish. She only consulted a few people at Busiu Primary School, which was a closed door meeting,” he said

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