The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) candidate Ms Brenda Asinde Suubi has been declared winner of the Iganga District woman MP by-election.
Ms Asinde garnered 43,197 votes while her closest rival Ms Mariam Nantale of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) got 24,077 votes.
The three independent candidates who include Ms Oliver Kwagala , emerged the third with 1,212 votes , Asha Babirye walked away with 7,052 votes and Ms Aziza Kakerewe was the last with 689 votes.
Ms Asinde was declared winner of the by-election at exactly 03:00am by the Iganga District Returning Officer Ms Mercy Ataho.
“As the returning officer of the area , in accordance with section 58 of the parliamentary Elections Act , I declare Ms Aside Brenda Suubi who obtained the largest number of votes winner and district representative to parliament,’’ She said.
Before declaring the winner, Ms Ataho announced that out of the 382 polling stations, ballot papers from 378 polling stations had been counted while those from the other four polling stations had been over violence.
“ We have cancelled four polling stations and cases are being handled by police. These include Nabitovu polling station in Nakigo sub county ,cancelled after the valid and invalid votes exceeded the number of registered voters at the polling station , Bupingo primary school polling station in ibulanku Sub County where polling was interrupted, ballot boxes with its content together with ballot papers , booklets were grabbed by un know persons,’’ she said.
“Another one is Bulubandi primary school polling station in Nakigo Sub County where a group of people disguised as voters raided the polling station, beat up the polling officials, grabbed the unused ballot papers, marked them, broke the seals of the ballot boxes and stuffed the box with marked ballot papers and Nakalama p/s M-Z polling station, we did not receive the results,’’ she said.
However, Ms Nantale refused to concede defeat saying the election was marred with intimidation, bribery and ballot stuffing.
Ms Nantale said she will sit with her party and lawyers to decide the next step of action.
Alhaji Abdul Nadduli, the minister without portfolio, has urged President Museveni to stop referring to Buganda officials who collaborated with colonialists as traitors.
Speaking to The Observer in a lengthy interview on Thursday, Nadduli, a Muganda from Luweero, said, “I want to teach those who come from outside Buganda that saying that people who collaborated with whites were traitors is wrong. He [Museveni] has been in Kibaale giving out land titles; who has he betrayed?
The Kabaka gave out titles and you are also giving out titles; how then do you turn around and say that for him [Kabaka] he was a traitor?”
“That is undermining people; we must appreciate the role played by those who came before us. We shouldn’t think that it’s only us who have contributed to this country,” Nadduli said, taking on his boss who has been going around the country to persuade people to support the Constitution Amendment Bill 2017 on land.
Alhaji Abdul Nadduli, the minister without portfolio
Nadduli said Buganda was foresighted in signing an agreement with Europeans in 1894. He said that agreement saved Buganda from becoming a colony.
“People who have just joined us can’t force us to abandon what belongs to us. If they do, this will kill our unity and the next time Uganda disintegrates, we might not fight for it; we might just fight for our different regions so that everybody goes back to where they came from,” Nadduli said.
At a press conference at State House Entebbe on Wednesday, President Museveni referred to Buganda kingdom officials who collaborated with colonialists as traitors and the resulting mailo land tenure system as satanic.
“On the issue of having a ceiling on the busuulu [ground nominal fees]; that, we shall never abandon because first of all this mailo land system is satanic. We only kept quiet because we need peace in Uganda.
These mailo owners found people here who they turned into squatters in the 1900 Agreement. These traitors who collaborated with the whites and were given eight miles each turned our people into squatters,” Museveni said.
Nadduli, however, said he will oppose any bill that seeks to transfer the ownership of land to government. He said the current laws starting with the 1900 Buganda Agreement provide for compulsory acquisition of land for government projects. But before change of ownership, he said, there must be adequate and prompt compensation.
“I don’t support any law that gives Museveni or the government ownership over our land because the power to use any piece of land for government projects is already provided for in the laws starting with the 1900 Buganda agreement,” Nadduli said.
“Even you who is currently in power and using it to steal people’s properties, even yours [property] will be stolen one day. This is a government, it has no friendship, today you are in, tomorrow you are out,” Nadduli said.
Nadduli (L) looks on as President Museveni greets NRM MPs recently
He also accused the president of presiding over a system that has increased friction between land and bibanja owners.
“This Museveni era is the one which has brought conflicts between bibanja and land owners; he should just improve his regime,” Nadduli said.
“Tell me, starting with the 1960s and 1970s; which group came out and evicted people from their bibanja [untitled land]? It is them who have brought this havoc; the law used to be respected, when you need a kibanja you buy it, when you need land you buy it, that’s all,” Nadduli said.
The outspoken former Luweero district chairman also accused the opposition ministers within government of coming up with schemes that are aimed at failing the government.
“We now have FDC people who are working in the NRM government that they don’t want. They have been wondering why the NRM is so strong in the villages; that is why they are bringing this turmoil to turn our government upside down,” Nadduli said.
Betty Amongi, the minister of Lands who is championing the Constitution Amendment Bill 2017, is a UPC member and wife of UPC president Jimmy Akena.
NRM lawyers, strategists and MPs have penned a 13-page research paper in which they outline at least 10 reasons why the presidential age limits in the constitution must be scrapped.
Titled Narrative on Constitutional Amendments 2017, the paper attempts to justify why article 102(b), which caps the lower and upper presidential candidature ages at 35 and 75 years, must be dropped from the constitution.
“This paper gives the rationale as to why this part of the constitution and any other legislative or organizational rigidities must be removed,” the paper states in its introduction.
NRM supporters at Kololo recently
Article 102(b) of the constitution provides that a person is not qualified for election as president unless that person is not less than thirty-five years and not more than seventy-five years of age.
The authors of the research paper, The Observer has learnt, are largely key promoters of the lifting of the age limit. They include NRM lawyer Kiwanuka Kiryowa, Igara East MP Raphael Magyezi, Peter Ogwang (Usuk), Robinah Nabbanja (Kakumiro Woman), Arinaitwe Rwakajara (Workers), Simeo Nsubuga (Kassanda South) and Jackson Kafuuzi (Kyaaka South).
Others are Solomon Silwany (Bukooli Central), Margaret Komuhangi (Nakasongola Woman) and Mariam Naigaga (Namutumba Woman).
Interviewed for this story yesterday, Kiryowa refused to comment on his input in the paper. President Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, is ineligible to stand for re-election in 2021 when his current term expires because he will be 77 years old, two years older than the mandatory 75.
But the authors of the research paper argue that the upper age cap is one of the constitutional rigidities that should be done away with. Seventy-five years, they argue, is an arbitrary number that has no justification.
To them, not everybody is incapable of leadership at the age of 75 years because some people cannot be president even at a much lower age, whereas others are strong and dynamic, and still have a lot to offer well after clocking 75.
“Uganda is not an island or unique in terms of governance,” they contend, adding, “Other countries in the region don’t have this kind of archaic restriction in their constitutions. It is important for regional integration that Uganda takes bold steps to harmonize systems of governance with other countries.”
The East African region and the continent, they claim, can benefit from “experienced”, “committed” and “capable leaders”more than “experimentalism and political maneuvers” which they say depicts Africans as “mere copycats” of other societies, which are at different stages of development.
Invoking Article 1 of the Constitution, the authors say power is with the people who will choose how they want to be governed through regular, free and fair elections.
Ugandans, according to the paper, have capacity and freedom to choose the person who should lead the country as president through regular free and fair elections in accordance with article 103 of the constitution. That right should be guaranteed, and not restricted, they contend.
“If voters do not want a particular person to lead them or they are tired of his/her governance style, they will reject that person at the time of elections and vote them out,” the paper reads in part.
The proponents of the paper attack article 102(b) on grounds that it is discriminatory against Ugandans who are aged 75 and above yet article 32 of the constitution prohibits discrimination based on age and other factors.
“Members of parliament and other leaders [except the president and district chairperson] do not have this kind of restriction. It is necessary that this imbalance is redressed as provided by the constitution,” the paper suggests.
Amendment of the constitution, they argue, is permitted as long as the correct procedure is followed.
“Ugandans have the right to determine the appropriate legislation of their time and to review the laws and make corrections where necessary,” the paper argues.
Uganda, the authors say, is operating under a multiparty dispensation, which means that parties have the mandate to select the best candidates from their members to compete for political office at various levels.
“Nobody can dictate to any party the person that party should select to run for presidency ,” they say, adding, “it is up to each political party to choose the candidate who they believe will deliver success at elections and lead the country as president, irrespective of age, gender, tribe, religion or other consideration.”
President Museveni would be the biggest beneficiary of the age limit amendment
The authors say Uganda should copy what they call “good examples” of other countries like Israel, which permits all their available “leadership resources” to remain and compete for elections.
“The country [Uganda] is at the stage of taking off into a modern, middle-income country,” they say, adding: “this is the time to galvanize all available human resources, particularly its leadership and technical manpower, as long as they are the choice of the people, elected or appointed through the legal and institutionally recognized mechanisms.”
Whereas they agree with the old adage that “even the best dancer leaves the stage,” they insist that the people’s right to demand for what they call “another rap” from a dancer of their preference should be respected.
“The host cannot send off the best dancer at the time when the people have just warmed up to enjoy the dance because that would be an anti-climax, which is not permissible in organized societies,” they say.
“It’s not the dancer who wants to stay on the floor, but the people who will enjoy and value the particular dancer’s strokes, and therefore demand for his/her stay.”
Following a public backlash and threats from opposition and NRM ‘rebel’ MPs to block any move by NRM lawmakers to table a bill seeking to remove presidential age limits, the promoters have warned that no amount of intimidation will stop them.
Speaking at a press conference in the Parliamentary Commission boardroom yesterday, the minister of state for Investment and Privatization, Evelyn Anite, said the group can’t be intimidated because it is in power and has the backing of the military.
“They should know that we are the party in power, we have the support of the maggye [army], you cannot tell us Togikwatako [don’t touch it, article 102 (b)],” said Anite, who is remembered for spearheading the declaration of President Museveni as NRM sole candidate for the 2016 elections.
Minister Evelyn Anite and daughter greeting President Museveni at State House last year
On Wednesday, NRM MPs Barnabas Tinkasiimire (Buyaga West), Felix Okot Ogong (Dokolo South), Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga) and John Baptist Nambeshe (Manjiya) joined Independents Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East), Muhammad Nsereko (Kampala Central) as well as Lubaga North MP Moses Kasibante and Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze in warning their colleagues against tabling what they called a shameful bill.
Some MPs threatened to go physical in parliament if need be, to block the tabling of the bill, a threat that seemed to have forced the promoters of the lifting of the presidential age limit to rethink their strategy.
The group, which had indicated it would table the bill yesterday, eventually decided to push it to Thursday next week. It is understood that Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, who is currently in the UK, will personally handle the bill.
On Thursday, the pro-age limit removal MPs confessed they hadn’t taken their colleagues’ threats lightly.
“We are going for a battle; it is not a muscle battle but a battle of the brain. Whoever is not bright should not join the debate,” Anite said.
The youthful minister, who is best remembered for leading NRM MPs at Kyankwanzi in February 2014, into passing a resolution that cushioned President Museveni against an internal challenge for the NRM flag going into the 2016 elections, said their move is to “organise article 102 (b) that is currently disorganised.”
Kabula MP James Kakooza, a member of the Anite group, referred to a report by former Kajara MP Stephen Tashobya, which recommended an early amendment to the constitution to cater for electoral reforms that were proposed by various stakeholders.
Tashobya, currently a commissioner at the Electoral Commission (EC), was the chairman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, which handled the 2015 constitutional amendments.
Despite their draft bill not addressing most proposals suggested by opposition political parties and civil society organizations in 2015, Kakooza said their move is in “good faith,” and not tied to President Museveni. On his part, Peter Ogwang (Usuk) said their intention is to remove illogical limitations.
“This amendment is to realign issues of governance in our country; we need to get rid of all the illogical limitations in the constitution, which for instance permit an 18-year-old to be an MP but cannot be a sub-county chairperson, a vice chairperson and chairperson of a district,” Ogwang said.
“If what we are doing is not within the four fundamental principles of governance in this country, then I will apologize, but if what I am engaged in is within the duty of an MP, I will fully associate myself with this motion,” Ogwang added.
NRM MPs dressed in anti-age limit T-shirts
By yesterday, some 277 MPs are reported to have signed up in support of the bill. Among the signatories are some independents and three opposition MPs.
Kakumiro Woman MP Robinah Nabbanja, who is among the bill’s promoters, declined to name the three opposition legislators.
For the bill to go through parliament, it must be endorsed by two-thirds of all members of parliament. Out of the 438 MPs with voting rights in parliament, 298 are NRM but a couple of these are expected to break ranks with the ruling party on this matter.
“We are engaging the rebels on an individual level, we aren’t going to reject them, they are part of us [and] persuasion is part of democracy,” Simeo Nsubuga told The Observer.
“It’s a big relief that this is no longer seen as a Simeo Nsubuga, Peter Ogwang or James Kakooza project but as [being] for the majority of NRM MPs, although we now have a challenge of mobilising within NRM and moving as a team,” said the former police spokesman.
The group got a boost on Wednesday night when President Museveni appeared to give them a veiled nod of approval.
Museveni, who said late in July that those agitating over the age limit were engaged in idle talk, now said during a press conference at State House Entebbe on Wednesday that MPs have a right to push for the amendment.
Asked if he was willing to continue ruling after clocking 75 years, Museveni said, “go and get a medical report as to whether a person above 75 is medically fit to lead.”
Meanwhile, the MPs have linked up with the youth group Kick Age Limitations Out of the Constitution (KALOC), which is pushing for the same agenda.
According to KALOC leader, Ibrahim Kitatta, the youths have met with the MPs and worked out a plan to popularise the debate amongst young people at the grassroots.
Their activities are scheduled to kick off on Saturday with a football match at Bombo in Luweero district.
On Wednesday, September 13, President Museveni spent about four hours at State House Entebbe with journalists, discussing, among other things, the controversial Constitution Amendment Bill 2017 and the fast-tracked plan by NRM MPs to scrap the constitutional presidential age limits.
Below are some of the questions asked by journalists and answered by the president.
The NRM caucus convened yesterday [Tuesday] and passed a resolution to table a motion in parliament seeking leave to present an amendment bill to scrap presidential age limits.
The last time you were asked about this, you said it was idle talk. But this was the caucus of the ruling party with over seven ministers present; that surely can’t be idle talk.
What is your position on that because you are the biggest beneficiary of that amendment if it is passed. Second, in your last interview with NTV, you said that someone at 75 years of age is not fit enough to be a leader.
Let’s start with the biology; one who is 75 [years old] is he fit? Well, I think we should ask the medical doctors; they could help us with a written report. I don’t interfere with their work. Go and ask them to write a medical report about the fitness of somebody who is 75 years, whether they are medically fit to lead.
About the NRM people who were involved in some activity; that one is not the official NRM caucus but they are NRM people who in Runyankore are called nyekundiire, they are volunteers and they have got their views.
Originally, they were provoked by these malicious people who are busy, busy…But as I said earlier in the interview, for us we did our work in 1993 and 1995 in the CA [Constituent Assembly] when we organised Ugandans and they elected a CA, which wrote a constitution and everything is there.
If you want to change the Constitution, how do you do it? If you want to maintain it, how do you do it? For us our work was finished, the rest is for you the young people and the MPs and other leaders. They should discuss in the interest of Uganda and Africa, that’s what I would like to say. So, if that issue has come up, debate it and see how to resolve it.
Your government is reputed for having brought peace and security. But three months ago we have seen increased cases of murder in Wakiso. What do you think the problem is?
We defeated [LRA leader Joseph] Kony, Karimojong cattle rustlers and the rebel ADF, among others. Our UPDF infrastructure is strong and those groups can no longer destabilize Uganda.
But recently, starting with the murder of the sheikhs, then Joan Kagezi [senior state attorney] and girls in different parts of the country, there have been some weaknesses we have not been paying attention to. But now I think we have discovered the gaps, and that criminality is going to stop.
These urban crimes will be defeated when we use new ways. Some people have been arrested for those murders but we are going to close those gaps. We have spent a lot of energy on war but this is not war, it is crime and it will stop.
There is a view that you are too kind to deal with corruption, that’s why it has continued to be a problem 30 years after you said you’re going to deal with it.
Those who know the history of NRM know that we killed soldiers who killed people; therefore, we are not jokers. But those we shot [firing squad], it was obvious that somebody had killed another because it was an overt act.
But corruption is not easy to see. It is a covert action. So, when you don’t get bwino [evidence], you get into other problems. Uganda now has no refugees outside, even those on kyeyo come back because everybody feels relaxed.
They know that no one can touch them in Uganda as long as there is no evidence that one has committed a crime. I don’t want to spoil that atmosphere here, that’s why I go slow until I get bwino and grab you.
Why don’t you just amend the Land Act other than the Constitution?
Whether it is changing the Land Act or an article of the constitution, the issue we should answer is; is there a problem? If there is a problem, then what is the best way to solve it?
For me I’m not bothered whether the problem is solved this way or that way. What I don’t want is continued paralysis and delay of strategic government projects.
The issue of land touches every Ugandan and everybody has views about it. What does government think about holding a referendum for all Ugandans to decide on the issue?
It is possible [to hold a referendum] but I think that a referendum should be held on an issue, which is clear. Rationally this issue of land is hard to be decided by many people because it is not a singular issue.
A referendum needs one issue that is clear; yes or no, but this issue of land has got many clauses, so how do you frame the question? This is like holding a referendum for the village to decide whether someone is sick or not.
The constitution talks about prompt compensation; oftentimes, land is valued but landowners take a long time to be paid. Secondly, many Ugandans don’t seem to trust government to acquire land and use it for its intended purpose. Probably it is that mistrust that makes people a bit resistant to surrendering their land for government projects.
When government is slow to pay, they pay interest that is what the law says. On trust, you talk about government land, which was converted to other use, that is a different story.
For instance, on the UBC land on top of the hill [Nakasero], we now have a huge hotel called Hilton [Pearl of Africa hotel]. That was government land given to a private person as part of investment promotion. This is part of the ignorance that Hon. Kasyate seems to share.
The other day a young gentleman in parliament asked me, Mr Museveni do you have shares in Madhvani’s company, I said no sir honorable, I have no shares there. But then he said if you don’t have shares, why are you defending Madhivani so much? According to him, if I don’t have personal shares in the private business of people, I shouldn’t defend them yet the job of the modern government is to promote the private sector.
Part of the proposed amendment says if the value [of land] has been set, let the owner receive that value and the government project goes on and if he is not satisfied, he petitions a court of law or tribunal. Many who are opposed to this can’t imagine an ordinary citizen taking on a government. Even if the court process is time-bound, what are the chances of success, isn’t that a valid concern?
What is the alternative? Uganda should remain in the dark ages, we shouldn’t develop? You have heard that democratically speaking the market value of land is known. Wake up Ugandans and other Africans; the modern world is about the private sector. When you hear that countries are strong, it is because they have got a strong private sector.
I have to spend some time on radio speaking about these issues because I sat back thinking that people will understand. But when I hear people argue that; why are you defending Madhivani, is he of the Basiita clan or do you have shares in his company, a member of parliament, leader, what sort of future do you have?
You are all here eating beef but you don’t know where it is coming from, you don’t know how much I suffer with the rain, with foot and mouth disease, with the kyeya [drought]. For you, you are just here with a tie. Simon Kasyate. All of you see beef on the table. That’s why you have not read Adam Smith; you should go back and read him.
Why haven’t you waited for the Justice Catherine Bamugemeire Commission of Inquiry on land matters because it might also come up with issues that require a constitutional amendment.
The commission is investigating issues I don’t know properly. But this issue [land] we know and we don’t need research but a solution and we must not wait for the report.
On the issue of having a ceiling on busuulu, that we shall never abandon because first of all this mailo system is satanic; we only kept quiet because we need peace in Uganda.
These mailo owners found people here who they turned into squatters in the 1900 agreement. These traitors who collaborated with the whites were given eight miles each and turned our people into squatters and started demanding exorbitant fees in busulu. This led to the people’s resistance in 1920 in the famous Bataka movement.
Even in the CA, these owners were saying we should leave them to deal with the squatters but we said no.
There are organisations such as kingdoms; religious institutions, why don’t you first consult them because they also own a lot of land and, much of it has people.
You know me I fought with the Bakopi [the poor] in the bushes; the rich were never with us in the bush. But when we won, we brought on board the rich; therefore, the rich should also listen to us.
The peace that was brought by the NRM is benefitting everyone. Therefore, on the issue of land, I would also wish those institutions consulted me. I’m also here.
Iganga goes to polls today to decide their next District Woman Member of Parliament following the death Grace Hailat Kaudha as NRM looks for its 8th victory out of the dozen by-elections so far held.
President Museveni was on Monday in the district to drum up support for the party flag bearer Ms Asinde Brenda Suubi popularly known as Maama Madhi.
NRM secretary general Justine Lumumba said Tuesday that her team was optimistic of a landslide victory in Iganga today.
"The entire district has showed us massive support throughout the campaigns," said Ms Lumumba who led the field operations.
Meanwhile, the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leaders have also pitched camp in the district.
The FDC deputy spokesperson Mr Paul Mwiru said the party is set to deploy its agents at all the polling centers to safe guard the votes for their candidate, Ms Mariam Naigaga.
Former presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye was also in the district campaigning for Ms Naigaga.
Other candidates in the race are Asha Babirye, Olivia Kwagala and Aziza Kakerewe.
The Iganga District Returning Officer Ms Mercy Ataho said campaigns for the five candidates in the race ended peacefully on Tuesday.
After months of speculation and repeated government denial, a large group of NRM MPs announced yesterday that they intend to table a bill in Parliament on Thursday, which seeks to remove the constitutional cap of 35 and 75 years of age on presidential candidates.
On Thursday, the promoters of this scheme will ask Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga to allow them table their bill.
According to people familiar with the plan, if the promoters get the speaker’s nod of approval, they will also demand that scrutiny of the bill by parliament’s Legal Affairs committee takes a week at most.
Debate and passage of the bill should be finished before the October 9 Independence day celebrations, according to the ambitious roadmap drawn by the draft legislation’s promoters.
Raphael Magyezi, the mover of the motion for removal of age limits from the constitution
According to a resolution passed at a “consultative meeting” of about 246 NRM and NRM-leaning independent MPs yesterday, the bill will be tabled by Igara East MP Raphael Magyezi as a private member’s bill.
Magyezi will be backed by Peter Ogwang (Usuk), Robinah Nabbanja (Kakumiro Woman), Arinaitwe Rwakajara (Workers), Simeo Nsubuga (Kassanda South) and Jackson Kafuuzi (Kyaaka South).
Others are Solomon Silwany (Bukooli Central), Margaret Komuhangi (Nakasongola Woman) and Mariam Naigaga (Namutumba Woman).
All NRM MPs, according to the resolution passed yesterday, have to sign in support of the bill. Before Tuesday’s consultative meeting at parliament’s conference hall, this group worked with NRM lawyer Kiwanuka Kiryowa to write the bill that seeks to remove the remaining legal hurdle to President Museveni’s bid to extend his 31-year rule beyond 2021.
The group is also said to have worked closely with ministers; Adolf Mwesige (Defence), David Bahati (State for Planning) and Evelyn Anite (State for Investment and Privatization).
The trio attended Tuesday’s meeting together with their cabinet colleagues Denis Galabuzi Ssozi (Luweero Triangle), Ronald Kibuule (Water), Simon Lokodo (Ethics and Integrity) and Charles Bakkabulindi (Sports).
Among the ministers, Mwesige was the most outspoken. He told the meeting about the central role he played in the 2005 constitution amendment process that removed presidential term limits.
At the time, Mwesige was minister of state for Constitutional Affairs.
“Considering the recommendations of the Supreme court, we have up to March 31, 2018 to have this amendment passed, we need this amendment to remove the constitutional rigidities,” Mwesige said.
“Article 102 (b) is in conflict with Article 21, which provides for equality of all Ugandans regardless of age, Article 32, which talks about affirmative action, is also in conflict with multiparty politics and the universal legal regime in Western democracies,” Mwesige added.
Citing a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, Mwesige argued that having presidential age limits is discriminatory.
“The European Court of Human Rights ruled that limiting employment on the basis of age is discriminatory; why should we have the same limitations for the president? I, therefore, support the idea of a private member’s bill because we are representatives of the people,” Mwesige said.
Minister Adolf Mwesige (C) was vocal and in support of lifting the age limit
He also told the meeting that Article 102 (b) is not among the entrenched articles of the constitution that require resolutions of district councils or a referendum to get amended.
“Article 102 (b) is outdated and politically irrelevant [because] I have done research and discovered that in 1995 when the constitution was being promulgated, life expectancy of Ugandans was 45 years of age but because of the good policies of NRM, life expectancy is beyond 75 years,” the Bunyangabu legislator claimed.
He further argued that much as the draft legislation was being brought as a privately sponsored bill, government should give the movers all the necessary support.
The proposed amendment to article 102 (b) suggests that any registered voter eligible for election as an MP should be eligible for election as president.
The current provisions don’t allow a person below 35 years or above 75 years to stand for president. However, anyone who has attained the age of 18 can stand for election as an MP. This, therefore, means that once the amendment is passed, a person as young as 18 can run for president.
The MPs are also proposing to amend Article 108 (4), which stipulates the qualifications of a vice president. They want qualifications of the president to apply to the vice president too.
Currently, Article 108 (4) states that, “the qualifications prescribed for the office of president by article 102 of this constitution shall apply to the office of vice president.”
The third proposed amendment is of article 183 (2)(b), which sets 35 years as the minimum age for one to run for district chairperson and 75 years as the upper cap.
Other amendments are based on the recommendations of the Supreme court ruling in relation to the Amama Mbabazi versus Yoweri Museveni election petition 2016. The MPs are suggesting that the time for filing a presidential election petition be increased from the current 10 days to 30 days after the announcement of election results.
In case of annulment of the presidential election results, fresh elections should be held within 60 days as opposed to the current provision of 21 days, they suggest.
All through their deliberations, promoters of the bill warned that the time frame set by the Supreme court is running out, which is why they decided to move privately.
“The Supreme court gave us only two years within which to make these electoral reforms, from March 31, 2016 when the Supreme court made the recommendations, we are left with about six months to make the amendments,” Rwakajara said.
“We should also avoid the situation where government brings amendments late and we hurriedly pass them because they come during campaigns,” he added.
Magyezi said they had “run out of patience after waiting for the executive to table the amendments in vain.”
But sources close to the group told The Observer that this was an agreed position between the MPs and cabinet because it would look awkward for government to table a bill largely intended to benefit President Museveni who under the current provision is ineligible to stand in 2021.
While some proposed that the amendment should emerge from the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), many feared that approach would take too long.
“We want this debate to get out of the way; we can’t, therefore, rely on the CRC, which can take several years and you can’t rush it because along the way, several issues may come up,” our source said.
The High court in Kampala has cancelled the appointment of Donna Asiimwe Kusemererwa as the new executive director of National Drug Authority (NDA).
Justice Stephen Musota nullified the appointment on grounds that the position is non-existent. This means that Kusemererwa, a pharmaceutical management expert who had been appointed in January 2016, ceases to act as the executive director.
The ruling was read yesterday by Jolly Bahinguza, the assistant Civil Division registrar, High court. Kusemererwa's appointment was challenged in court on grounds that the position is "non-existing" and that it contravenes Section 54 (2) of the National Drug Policy and Authority Act Cap 206.
This was contained in an application filed by Florence Obiocha Nakachwa, who was challenging the termination of her contract as the head of Drug Assessment and Registration.
Donna Asiimwe Kusemererwa
Through her lawyer Kituuma-Magala of Kituuma-Magala and Company Advocates, Nakachwa in a miscellaneous application number 186 of 2017, asked court to declare that Kusemererwa was holding out as secretary to the authority null and void.
She had also asked court to declare the position of executive director in which Kusemererwa was appointed is non-existent and was contravening section 54(2) of the National Drug Policy and Authority (NDPA) Act Cap 206.
Court directed that Kusemererwa immediately stops to act as the executive secretary to the NDA board and ordered that the Authority advertises the position within 60 days from the day the judgement was delivered.
Kusemererwa declined to comment after the ruling when contacted by URN.
"I have no capacity to speak to you. So I speak to you as who?" she said as she walked away.
She was later overheard on phone directing that the board holds an emergency meeting following the court's decision. In January 2016, the National Drug Authority Board of Directors appointed Kusemererwa as the new executive director after emerging as the most suitable candidate.
The position had fallen vacant in February 2015 following the dismissal of Gordon Katende Ssematikko for allegedly transferring up to Shs 14 billion from an official NDA account to an unauthorised fixed deposit account.
With over 15 years of experience in building, managing and strengthening pharmaceutical and health systems in Uganda, Kusemererwa previously worked with the Joint Medical Stores as the general ganager and at Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network as executive director.
The NDA is a government entity that regulates and controls the production, importation, distribution and use of human and veterinary medicines and other healthcare products.
A least eight legislators from ruling party, opposition and independents today, Wednesday vowed to block any attempts by their colleagues to have the 75-year presidential age limit cap lifted.
This comes after over 245 National Resistance Movement (NRM) MPs and NRM-leaning independents on Tuesday agreed to table a private members bill seeking to amend Article 102(b), which provides that for a person vying for the seat of president, ought to be between 35 and 75 years.
At a press conference held at parliament today, the MPs including Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East) Barnabas Tinkasimire (Buyaga West), Felix Okot Ogong (Dokolo south), Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga), Betty Nambooze (Mukono County North), John Baptist Nambeshe (Manjiya County), Muhammad Nsereko (Kampala Central) and Moses Kasibante (Rubaga North) were angry that their colleagues’ move would plunge the country into disaster if not countered.
MP Theodore Ssekikubo holding a copy of the Constitution as his colleagues look on
According to the legislators, they are in the process of ensuring that the debate on the age limit lifting is blocked in addition to making sure speaker of parliament does not preside over the matter.
“This thing called age limit will not be lifted. We are disturbed the blackmail is put on all NRM MPs including myself. I would go home, get a hoe to cultivate for basic survival than take a single coin to betray Ugandans, I took oath,” Tinkasimiire said.
The group argued that it was shameful that all Ugandan MPs have to walk the walk of shame because of the actions of some of their colleagues; after they took oath to uphold Constitution.
“I am so surprised that leaders and MPs that I respect have decided to betray Ugandans to amend the Constitution that we all respect and we have sworn to defend it and protect it,” Okot Ogong said.
Niwagaba, also shadow attorney general urged Ugandans to resist the removal of the presidential age limits as it has been with the amendment of Article 26 concerning acquisition of land so that the two constitutional amendments can be thrown out.
“It’s quite a sad story that people who have been elected and have sworn to uphold the constitution have decided to rape the constitution.”
“Either we stop calling it the Constitution of the republic of Uganda and call it the Constitution of NRM and Museveni, fold our hands and let the country go to the dogs as it surely will unless citizens resist this or all of us take the mantle and challenge to stop this business of people raping our constitution,” Niwagaba said.
Nambeshe noted that it was it was disturbing to see that when articles affect individuals in the Constitution they are amended, adding that this was time to test the constitution.
“Why would an Article like 102(b) of removal of presidential age limit never been tested and tried be allowed to happen? Whenever an article will affect an individual in Uganda here so must it be removed?” Nambeshe said.
“Who are they trying to hoodwink when they set the nomination fees for the president at Shs 50m? Which young person graduating from university, who does not even have the entandikwa (startup capital) going to get Shs 50m to raise as nomination fees to stand as president,” Tinkasimire said.
Nambooze called on all Ugandans to rally join in the fight against the removal of age limits adding that all political parties and leadership need to come up. Kampala Central MP, Muhammad Nsereko called for the isolation and detesting of all members of parliament lobbying for the lifting of the presidential age limit, and also President Museveni who is always ducking on the matter.
Nsereko said it is time to talk about privileges a retiring leader of the nation should have.
“We should be talking about what privileges will he [Museveni] get. How many medical check- ups will he go for, will he be entitled to use the presidential airforce plane or not, will he be writing novels and calling grand children to read for them some stories?”
“These are the things to be talking about. Leave a legacy. You have been quoting Mwalimu Nyerere, Nyerere, Nyerere, but why don’t you quote and live by his path?” Nsereko said.
KAMPALA- Members of Parliament subscribing to the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party on Tuesday passed a resolution to move a motion in Parliament on Thursday, this week, to amend the Constitution and remove the upper age cap on a prospective president.
The current Constitution provides, among other requirements, that only persons aged 35-75 years are eligible to stand and be voted as president.
As NRM legislators were voting to support the lifting of age limit clause from the Constitution, a group of party supporters marched in Kampala to support the move. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa
The incumbent Yoweri Museveni is 73-years-old and is, under the current Constitution, ineligible to stand in 2021 when Uganda is scheduled to hold its next presidential and general elections.
Some Independent MPs attended Thursday’s Caucus of the ruling party and voted in favour of the resolution. Only MPs Monicah Amoding (NRM; Kumi) and John Baptist Nambeshe (NRM; Manjiya) opposed the resolution. They stormed out of the room where the MPs were meeting when the matter went to vote.
As NRM supporters were marching to support the lifting of the age limit clause from the Constitution, some of them used the opportunity to steal valuables from pedetrians on Kampala streets. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa
Proponents of the resolution say one of the lawmakers subscribing to the NRM, a backbencher and not a minister, will on Thursday seek leave of Parliament to introduce an omnibus Private Member’s Bill to amend Articles 102 (b), 108(3a) and 108(4).