Kampala- President Museveni has criticised judges of the Constitutional Court for nullifying the extension of the term of Parliament from five years to seven and described their decision as an “undemocratic age limit nonsense” which focuses on form and procedure rather than substance.
The President also warned the judges that they are not the ones in charge of the country, adding that he and his NRM party MPs will “harmoise and galvanise” their position on the matter.
Last Thursday, the Constitutional Court on a 4-1 majority ruling upheld the amendment of the Constitution to remove the presidential age limit.
However, the five justices unanimously nullified the extension of the term of Parliament, saying it was unconstitutional because MPs did not seek or obtain people’s consent on the issue.
The petitioners had asked court to nullify the removal of age limit on the presidency and the extension of the term of Parliament.
“By a unanimous decision, court declares sections 2,5,6 8, 9 and 10 of the Constitution Amendment Act of 2018, which provide for the extension of the tenure of Parliament and local government councils by two years and for the reinstatement of the presidential term limits, unconstitutional for contravening the provisions of the Constitution,” Deputy Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo stated in his ruling last Thursday.
In a statement posted on the State House website, Mr Museveni said according to his “freedom fighter’s sense of justice”, the extension of the term of Parliament focuses more on the convenience of seven years instead of five.
“With the five years, a lot of time is spent on electioneering and less time on development; the first two years settling in, the third year some work in the constituency and, then, by the fourth year, electioneering again,” Mr Museveni said.
He said the NRM focuses on four principles: Patriotism; Pan-Africanism; Socio-economic Transformation and Democracy of substance, not form.
“Unfortunately, our judges in Uganda spend more time on form and not substance. In the end however, the judges are not the ones in charge of the country.
If the NRM MPs follow my guidelines and bond closely with the people, we can, together with the people, make the necessary constitutional reforms, judges or no judges,” the President said.
He said before making their ruling on the extension, the judges should have considered NRM’s massive victory in the recent Local Councils and women committee elections.
“We shall harmonise and galvanise our position. The undemocratic age limit nonsense was clear,” Mr Museveni said.
In the diatribe shared from South Africa where he flew last Thursday to attend the 10th Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) summit, President Museveni said the Constitution should facilitate the modernisation of Uganda and the economic and political integration of Africa for the survival and freedom of its people, not just the theatre of democracy of form without addressing substance.
On life presidency
Mr Museveni also dismissed the arguments that the age limit removal will pave way for his life presidency. He said they are uninformed evil schemers who do not want Uganda and Africa to succeed.
Removal of the age limit allows Mr Museveni to stand for re-election as many times as he wishes. He has been President since 1986.
When contacted yesterday, Chief Justice Bart Kutureebe said: “I cannot respond to a letter I have not seen and read. There is a judgment that was made and might come on appeal at the Supreme Court and once I comment about it now, I might have conflict of interest and I will not comment about people’s opinions,” Justice Katureebe said.
The Uganda Law Society president, Mr Simon Peter Kinobe, described Mr Museveni’s comments as “regrettable.”
“We are living under a democratic dispensation with the Constitution setting out the specific roles of each organ of State. At no time should one arm interfere or castigate the roles of the other,” Mr Kinobe said by telephone yesterday.
“When a judgment is made, not everyone is happy with it and the best way of handling this is that the party that is not satisfied with it should appeal before a higher court,” he added.
In his statement yesterday, the President also commended the NRM on winning the four seats for MPs and the five seats for mayors in the seven new municipalities of Apac, Nebbi, Ibanda, Sheema, Bugiri, Njeru and Kotido.