Are Ugandans in support of the controversial Constitutional Amendment?
The controvercy continues!
In view of dictatorships, life presidency, and turning a seeming democracy into a monarch by many African leaders today, citizens in Uganda are wary of the future of their country as the leading political party recently proposed to amend the country’s longest living 1995 constitution which implies that the upper and lower presidential age limit.
In 1995, James Wapakhabulo, the then Constituent Assembly (CA) Chairman, chaired the session that at the International Conference Centre, Kampala to consider and pass the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda which on 8th October was handed to the President Yoweri Kaguta M. comprising of 288 Articles. In his speech, the president fronted the then constitution as the best in the whole world and it is a surprise that today, he is in to amend it. What changed? Did the best constitution in the world get robbed of some features?
The main article that looks to be amended, article 102 (b), specifically states that a person is not qualified for election as president of Uganda if he or she is “less than thirty-five years or more than seventy-five years of age.” It should be noted with caution that the current President of Uganda, H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who turns 73 later this year, will be 76 by 2021 and thus ineligible to stand for president under the constitution as it is today (If not amended).
In the same light, the president lifted presidential term limits in 2005 following a constitutional amendment which has enabled him to rule Uganda for well over 30 years now. It is because of such occurrences in the political sphere that has many people especially opposition Members of Parliament standing against the removal of Article 102 (b) from the constitution.
Moreover, the opposition is very much disgruntled and disunited which might prove the fight against the amending of the constitution futile. Out of the parliament of Uganda, many Ugandans have made peace with the fact that President Museveni brought peace and are willing to let him lead the country for many more years.
Visiting Bugiri Town in the far East of Uganda (approximately 151.5km from Kampala) over the course of last week, I took it upon myself to ask a few people in the area about the said constitution amendment and to my amazement, well as many (elite) where in support of the amendment of Article 102 (b), many others didn’t even have any slight knowledge of what I was talking about.
When I was in Mityana (approximately 70km from Kampala) couple of weeks ago for the launch of the National Action Plan on Women, Girls, Gender Equality, HIV and AIDS 2016/17 – 2020/21 (NaWoGGE) by the Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Development (MGLSD), the residents of the small village which also turns out to be my home village cheered in unison when the area MP Hon. Judith Nabakooba talked about the constitutional amendment supporting removal of Presidential age limits.
“It is only due to fear that some of us have not yet taken posters to the road to cheer in support of the Constitutional Amendment,” Joseph a resident of Makindye, shared with me, “especially when we see how violent those not in support of the Amendment are straight from Parliament,” he added. The many people in support of the Amendment are well backed by the ruling party thus are not worried that there might be a chance of failure.
The real question is, are Ugandans willing to live with the effects of life presidency and what it might brew later?