Members of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party are siding against the population to support the removal of presidential age limits, Makerere University Lecturer Prof Sabiiti Makara has said.
Makara, a senior lecturer in the Department of Political science and Public Administration says that the proponents of a move to remove the cap on the presidential age have not involved Ugandan nationals in their quest to amend article 102 (b) of the constitution.
His statement comes in the wake of a heated debate on the amendment of article 102 (b) of the constitution to lift the presidential age, now capped at 75. A bill for the amendment was tabled last week before a one-sided parliament comprising of members of the ruling party, by Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi.
The amendment removes all hurdles for President Yoweri Museveni to contest for the Presidency when his term of office ends in 2021. Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, would not be eligible under the current constitution.
But Makara warns that Uganda could suffer a tyranny of the majority if NRM continues to ride on its numerical strength in parliament to squash the rule of law.
Prof. Makara adds that Uganda will soon have a paper constitution with no context because the ruling party makes amendments to the supreme law of the land, as and when it wishes. He says that the trend is precarious for Uganda. “Ugandans deserve better,” He emphasizes.
Prof. Archangel Byaruhanga Rukooko, an Epistemology, Ethics, and Applied Philosophy expert rubbished the politics of numbers in parliament stating that instead of building democratic systems, the ruling government is using its numerical strength to entrench dictatorship in Uganda.
As of May 2017, the National Resistance Movement – NRM composition in parliament was 298 legislators of the overall 449 members of the tenth parliament. Prof. Rukooko says despite the majority in the numbers, they are not a reflection of the popular views of the population regarding the age-limit removal.
“You have seen those who want to demonstrate, they cannot be allowed. Those who want to meet cannot be allowed,” Prof. Rukooko said.
Dr Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi, the Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) spokesperson describes the proposed amendment as unfortunate adding that the path NRM is taking is the very one that the NRA fought against.
Dr Kamunyu also faults NRM legislators for politicking and riding on their numerical strength in parliament, while disregarding the wishes of the people, and the say of the minority.
Dr Suzie Nansozi Muwanga, the head of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Makerere University, however, told this publication that the issue of presidential age limit removal should not be looked at as one conclusion.
“I cannot comment on one isolated item in the whole constitution. I think really as a Ugandan I would want to look at a holistic view of the entire issue whether it’s the issue of age limit whether it is the issue of members of parliament being pushed here and there in order to make an appreciation of the issues at hand academically,” Dr Nansozi said.
Lumumba Bwire, a political scientist at Makerere University cautions that the future is going to be more violent in the wake of such constitutional amendments.