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Age Limit: A Brief look into the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Report on the Age Limit!

Today, was the day that the 10th Parliament, the Committee of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs majority report was leaked. As Speaker Rebecca Kadaga yesterday gave the public knowledge that the Constitutional Amendment will be up for second reading after the Committee is done on the 18th December 2017. The bill of Igara West Raphael Magyezi private bill got passed through the first voting and ended under scrutiny by the Committee. Even though this report make it just look benign and dumb. The questions for the reason for this isn’t because of discrimination or any other sort. That is just political ploy by the President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Who has a record of changing laws when he needs them too. If it is the constitution or another bill. It will be amended and changed when he needs it. The same reason for why the Article 102 (b) suddenly has to lifted and changed with an artificial provision.

The Committee is trying their best to legitimize it, but it doesn’t take away the purpose and their reasons for their recommendations. I am not surprised, this was expected by the Committee, it is fitting the paradigm of National Resistance Movement (NRM) under the rule of Museveni. They are trying to find special ways of fitting his narrative to his life. Without implicating himself to much. So it seems like it fits something else, while in the end its him who benefits. If it would go wrong, someone else has to fall on their sword. If someone get more ambition than Museveni, they are sacked or called rebels within the NRM. Therefore, expect the quotes I have taken to be in this regard. I have not taken from the ones questioning the lifting, because we all know the reason why to keep it. The Republic was made to serve and be there for Museveni, but he has taken it hostage. The NRM are just accepting it, because they are eating of his plate, the little breadcrumbs he is serving now and then. Therefore, this report is reflecting this. Take a look!

Article 102 (b) threatens democracy since Article 1 of the Constitution grants people of Uganda the right to determine who leads them and how they are ruled. Therefore restricting their choice on account of age would deny them the opportunity to fully exercise their freedom to decide who leads them” (…) “that Article 102 (b) is discriminatory against the youth and aged and is contrary to article 2l which guarantees equality of all people before the law” (…) “The youth and aged also want to participate in decision making process in the country. Having a lower and upper age limit would limit the participation of the youth and the aged in the country’s leadership” (…) “That age doesn’t translate into capacity since the youth and aged persons were able to serve efficiently in the office of President” (…) “that since life expectancy has increased from the time this Article was proposed and considering that more Ugandans are living longer, the population of the youth and aged persons, which are increasing every year, are productive and must be utilised” (…) “There is no empirical evidence to prove the assertion that persons below 35 years and above 75 years are not biologically endowed for leadership” (Parliament of Uganda, P: 60, 2017).

I wonder how it suddenly became a threat in 2017, when it took 22 years before it became an issue and a problem that the whole republic had to consider. If it had been a threat, wouldn’t the Committees and the working groups in the years before 1995 edited it out or at least changed the text to make it without reason? Or was the group members so drunk on the personality cult, that they was worshiping the words of Museveni back-then?

I wonder, if the Members of Parliament, meant it with sincerity that age doesn’t translate into leadership. So an infant and boy-scout is ready to become an MP too? Is a 100 year old struggling to walk and talk, good enough with a sound mind to run a republic? Age is complex in the sense, that no individual is the same. That people age differently and become mature differently, as also people aging in various aspects and get defects with time. Their all natural causes to live and to breathe. We all get deceases and has issues during our lives, that creates fatigue. Which effects our minds and our body ability to reflect on our surroundings. That is why we wants leaders with all senses and a clear mind. To be able to govern and steer a hectic ship as a Republic is. It shouldn’t be someone with an advanced age, as they can be taken advantage off and used by spouse or by doctors. This has been in the past also not to long ago with a certain Grace and her husband Robert Mugabe. If Janet tries to pull off the same, maybe then the army might attack Museveni too and put him under house arrest. Well, that is just speculation. Still, the thought of an advanced aged President is a frightened perspective, as it will weaken the persons ability to govern with full force and vigor.

The Committee further believes that whereas Article 102 (b) is not discriminatory, it marginalizes against the aged and the youth. The Committee notes that Article 102 (b) marginalizes against the youth and the elderly by limiting their opportunities especially as far as offering their candidature for the highest office is concerned. The Committee observed that Article 32 of the Constitution obligates the state to take affirmative action in favour of the marginalized groups to which the youth and elderly belong. The Committee believes that removing the age restrictions in Article 102 (b) is one way of streamline the provision for purpose of redressing the imbalance therein against persons below the age of 35 and those above the age of 75” (Parliament of Uganda, P: 62, 2017).

It is hard to believe that this will help the ones that under 35 years, when it is amended just because of the age of Museveni. It will not change anything and any imbalance, unless suddenly the laws change so much that more people can afford to run campaigns and there is actually a democratic playing field for all candidates. Which it is not at the moment. This is a mute argument to use the youth, because they are marginalized and blocked by this law. No one said some experience isn’t helpful when running for office and actually know something about politics before you run.

RECOMMENDATION

The committee recommends that-

(1) The age prescribed in Article 102 be reduced from 35 years to 18 years and for the upper age restriction to be removed” (…) “(2) Article 102 is redrafted to specifically prescribe the qualifications for a person to stand for president. These should including him or her being-” (…) “(a) a citizen of Uganda ; (b) a registered voter; (c) a resident in Uganda at the time of submission of his or her

and / (c) having completed a minimum formal education of Advanced standard or its equivalent” (Parliament of Uganda, P: 63-64, 2017).

They are really using the Youth for all its worth, even though it is to give Museveni a life presidency. They are not putting that in print. But that is the initial results of the change of the law. That is why the text are not saying any age, neither way, but they are using the youth because it is easier to fit. Than using advanced age. Since we all know it ridiculous!

The Committee observed that whereas many reasons were advanced for limits, one of the most prominent reasons was the existence of Article 102 (b), which persons above the age of 75 from being eligible for election as president. The reasoning at the time was that Article 102 was a deterrent measure against an incumbent seeking unlimited term as president and was sufficient to deter such a person. The Committee therefore notes that removing the age restrictions in Article 102 will remove the last remaining measure against the indefinite seeking of the office of President” (Parliament of Uganda, P: 91, 2017).

So they are blaming Dr. Milton Obote his predecessor for the reason, but ironically when he is gone. The provision isn’t needed. Obote is the problem, but not Museveni who apparently is still there. Just to bring some short words of Wisdom from Professor Oloka in 2006, it said this:

Your attitude to the kisanja saga relates to a larger problem, which goes to the essence of the problem of democracy in this country. Constitutionalism is about accepting the rules of the game as written and agreed upon, whether those rules favour you, or not. If the goalposts are changed whenever the tide goes against those in power then we have simply returned to the stage when Apollo Milton Obote abrogated the 1966 Constitution, rather than face the possibility of losing his job as Prime Minister. The 2005 amendments to the 1995 Constitution were the non-violent equivalent of Obote’s 1966 abrogation. My short point is that in the final analysis, constitutionalism is based on trust, not on the document in which the Constitution is embodied, because as you and your supporters have said time and again; nothing in that document is sacred. Just as it is not the quoting of biblical verses that shows whether you are a true Christian; it is your actions. Mr. President, how can you expect to be trusted for example on the issue of an East African Federation which today you are so much in favour of, and tomorrow may have turned completely against, if you discover that the Federation constitution does not favour your political interests?” (Oloka, 2006).

He couldn’t say it much better than this. Museveni is changing the Constitution, when he needs the fix. He is drug-addicted for power, he needs the next fix. This will be his re-up. The stash will be ready and he can continue with his addiction. That is what this is about. Nothing else. So it is special that the Legal Committee is blaming the provision of the law on Obote, when it was there all along because Museveni wanted it first. Just like accepted the term limits. Until, he had spent the hours and the years on office. Therefore, he needed that fix before the age limit is breaking his bones and his heart.

If it doesn’t happen, he will do like addicts do: lie, manipulate, impulsive behavior, criminal behavior, blame shifting and sensation seeking. He is already lying, manipulating the MPs, using criminal behavior with corrupt payments of the MPs and putting blame on others. He is just missing sensation seeking. If not, he will start another radio campaign or try to get it forced through with Special Forces Command and Police Officers like through the first reading. We can just imagine what will happen next week!

But do I believe the reasoning in this report. No and No! Peace.

Reference:

Parliament of Uganda – ‘Report of the Sectoral Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Constitution (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2017’, December 2017

Oloka, Joe Onyange – ‘Oloka responds to the President on term limits’ (31.07.2006) link: https://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1143715/oloka-responds-president-term-limits

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