MPs, Stop Threatening Violence over age Limit

By Ofwono Opondo

Sept, 14, 17
Before Church Reformation, it was sacrilegious to debate whether the bible was right, if God indeed existed, and if Jesus Christ created the Church. But these days we do so openly, and the scripture and Pope, are no longer taken as infallible. Papal infallibility was a Catholic Church dogma which stated that, in virtue of the promise Jesus made to Peter, the Pope was preserved from the possibility of error "when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church.”
Yet, today in Uganda, some people, especially few opposition MPs and leaders think we shouldn’t question whether aspects of our constitution are relevant, and hence if the ‘magical’ presidential age limit shouldn’t be amended. I say ‘magical’ because effective leadership in a democracy isn’t synonymous with age or formal education that some people insist on. Those opposed to removal of age limit should mobilise and organise more effectively instead of issuing threats, and it is possible to persuade President Museveni, in case he habours interest, not contest again.
There is no empirical evidence that formal education or youthfulness confers upon leaders much needed patriotism, self-sacrifice and adherence to common good. Opposition MPs now threatening violence shouldn’t be allowed the gate away with it because all matters, however contentious, should be debated publicly and settled peacefully by the relevant bodies.
It appears the abrupt vote this week by 245 NRM MPs to table a motion in parliament to kick-start possible constitutional amendment to remove the presidential age limit simply up-staged the often wicked opposition. The move which could potentially see President Yoweri Museveni run again in 2021, has twisted knives in the flesh of some NRM opponents.
While some think that NRM MPs have poured paraffin to the bridge and lit fire in their way, many in NRM believe they are on the road to Canaan. But as a journalist of many years, and long-standing political operator of the NRM and President Museveni, I reserve the right to boast of the fun in being close to power because you see, hear and read many things and people. Political leaders are, in their strange kingdoms and the decisions they make are influenced by a small often unrecognized coterie, hence the phrases, “corridors of power,” or “power behind the throne.”
Over the horizon, a ferocious political storm is brewing that could scupper many ships, including crushing some of them. Some don’t want this amendment because they fear it could rip the NRM apart. Some who might be feeling this rancor absurdly don’t have the guts to speak on the record.
It is instructive to remember that during the term-limit debate in 2005, and its aftermath, many were over-ruled as is likely to happen this time round. Many who disagreed like Miria Matembe, Augustine Ruzindana and John Kazzora didn’t resign by themselves but instead waited to be ejected, the reason they gnash extreme anger which they will most likely take to their grave. They wanted to have and eat their cake at the same time.
At that time, NRM turncoats energised the opposition especially FDC which former NRM bigwigs joined, although they haven’t made much dent to President Museveni or the NRM establishment. Bidandi Ssali, believing that the NRM was wrong, founded what he called “Progressive People’s Party” which has since died.
We believe that after a frenzy of intrigue, this brouhaha will subside, and Uganda’s political life will continue most probably with President Museveni at the helm albeit diminished on account of age, longevity and many un-fulfilled promises. The agitators should get to know Uganda’s, and in particular, NRM’s politics better.
Those who ran away from NRM like Amanya Mushega, George Kanyeihamba, Ruzindana, Mugisha Muntu all got speaking engagements at opposition symposiums because they were inaccurately thought to be credible to cause a dent in Museveni’s support. They took many plane flights abroad on foreign sponsored trips, and making some soft money became fun as it kept them with silk handkerchiefs for a while which has since disappeared.
After their demise, Amama Mbabazi threw his hat into the ring because he believed that with Eriya Kategaya (RIP), Mushega, Bidandi out, and Mike Mukula and Gilbert Bukenya recently from jail, he was dry and clothed as the bull, only to be thrown under the bus. And once those considered as immediate threats have been given a neat punch in the chops, we usually don’t repent. As can be seen, Amama is enjoying his lavish furnished office on Crested Towers, and residence in Nyonyi Gardens, Kololo.
And those threatening violence in case the age limit is removed should remember that in 2001-3, there was a bunching-up of skirts and sleeves that Besigye as former soldier, close confidant and NPC knew ‘too’ much and was capable of starting an armed rebellion. Recently when Gen. David Sejusa fell out, again some people thought he could cause real mischief. But it is refreshing that those concerns became hot air balloons.