By HABIB MBOOWA
The Revolutionary Vendor
In sunday monitor (dated, Sunday July 23 2017) there is an article by my friend Ibrahim Manzil who was reporting about what some of the framers 1995 Constitution had said about the “age limit”, people like Mwesigwa Rukutana, Miria Matembe, Charles Rwomuhana, Prof. Fredrick Ssempebwa, Mugiha Muntu among others voiced what they thought. Charles Rwomushana,a social critic, said that; “You know I have a recollection of that debate. But it was largely to prevent Obote; they were scared of Obote, they feared that he would come back and contest. On the lower age of 35, I think there was also fear of youth groups and it was around the same time that they created positions for the youth and women. I think by then, I was one of the youthful delegates. There were leaders who ascended to power at that time and, therefore, the view that there could be a youth movement that had to be tamed.” while Prof Frederick Ssempebwa,a lawyer, said that; “It is not isolated, it was part and parcel of a compost that is to ensure that the powers of the President are checked and in drafting the Constitution, we put in a lot of checks and balances and that the President would not do this or that without approval (of Parliament). Then it came to how old should the President be, under the Odoki commission, we debated it and said we should have a limit, we shouldn’t be like other countries such as the US where they have no limit in age because our systems are different and people over the time they reach the age of 60 and they are tired.”
Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, FDC party president, said that; “Largely, it was because of the recognition of a fact that our history has been turbulent and the turbulence was rooted in the abuse of power by leaders. So there was a focus on how we could put a safety valve in the Constitution. Ours was a country which was still grappling with the politics of leaders who are selfish, short sighted, who tend to abuse power, and, therefore, we knew it is the laws that would be embedded in the Constitution so that leaders could not abuse power. That is why the term limits were put in and the age limit. When we were doing that, we never even imagined that there would be a possibility of anybody attempting to change it.”
I think Muntu voiced a lot of sense in this interview, and now today in 2017 some lazy people are again dragging the president to what he called nosense. It is unfair of how some people have continued to hold our President a captive for their own motives and as a person he has been welcoming the ideas (and his is human nature), we all know of how power can be corrupt but for the sake our young Nation we should boldly stand to protect the future of Uganda.
With the current talk about the age limit, I think the president has served and needs to rest at his farm. Our constitution needs to be respected much as it is subjected to termly reviews, the age limitations should be preserved and for the reasons below;
As we have seen from the quotes, there was a planned move to block Obote from standing as president. I thought the law is supposed to be blind! Should we repeal it to open for Museveni and may be in future re-instate it to lock out Besigye or someone else for that matter? This is implies that our laws are subjective rather than objective, makes you wonder about the POMA and the proposed compulsory land acquisition bill (who or what is being targeted).
Unfortunately, the conclusions they were drawing was only their isolated individual and personal views. And there are zillions of interpretations to their recollections! What the overall conclusions, some of us who have also privately talked to most of the CA-Delegates and have also had access to their private records, can draw is that: The CA-Delegates did a good and honest job then! Let us also remember that: Hind-sight is a good teacher but that doesn’t mean we should disparage the past! In absolute honesty, there was no need to ‘stop Obote’ to return to Government! He had had his turn and had failed. It was simply fitting to prescribe a two-term limit! Proper Political Governance is not equivalent to marriage contact. Moreover, marriages are not that permanent any longer! As to the Age Limits on the President, if the Citizens are free to elect their leaders without intimidation, they will be able to express their views freely; and, rightly, regret at their leisure, however much their pain may be! Museveni like Obote has served his term and purpose.
Sometimes I sit down and wonder loudly – how one single man can have such a super gene in his brain. When coming from exile alongside Tanzanian forces, he managed to fool everybody to go blind while he buried guns, later to be used in case things didn’t work out for him in Kampala after Liberation. During the UNLF period, he managed to blindfold everybody while he strategically recruited, trained and planted people in the young, poorly trained army while at the same time tricking people like Oyite Ojok, Tito Okello etc. to get rid of Lule, Binaisa – hence instill fear and discontent in Buganda. On and on, this fellow has managed to pull one trick after another – successfully getting it his way while everybody else is just watching, sometimes complaining but always feeling hopeless & outsmarted. Preventing Obote from active politics, I am sure was the motivation behind the age & term limits being inserted in the constitution, knowing such safe guards would be removed later at M7’s convenience or after Obote’s death. My question is, were people like Mugisha Muntu – as members of the CA part of that clever scheme or were they all blindfolded and by who? If someone answers that question correctly, we Ugandans will find out if M7 is single handedly a genius, or if the very people like the Muntus masquerading as the opposition are the same ones behind M7’s successful manipulations.
For a regime that got power in 1986, serious projects such as power generation, road construction, irrigation schemes, schools and improvement of health infrastructure have only began after the year of 2000 and this was so because the government had to stabilize, Situations were already clear that the proper management of the State had become rather difficult for President Museveni. There was war continuing in the north, poverty had deepened, the currency had lost value; the politics of the country had become very chaotic and there was a lot of segregation of some section of Ugandans. That was bound to be a recipe for the acceptance of [former president] Obote, whose government was tested.
In an inclusinve party like nrm i would think that people with dissenting views should be accorded audience to air out their views because it is from such discussions that we shall pick very good and workable formulas to run the state for other many years.