25 May 2012

Uganda: Term Limit Agitators Are Enemies of Democracy


IN 2005 when the 7th Parliament was debating the removal of the presidential term limits, I was in Arusha, Tanzania, with other journalists, where we had an opportunity to share views on the issue with the then East African Community secretary general, Amanya Mushega.

Mushega was strongly against the removal of term limits, arguing that it was not good for democracy.

I told him that in Bunyoro region, the people were in support of the removal of the term limits because it would give them a chance to re-elect President Museveni had initiated several development programmes and they indeed voted for him in 2006.

After the elections, programmes such as completing the tarmacking of Hoima- Kiboga-Busunju road, creation of new districts, extension of electricity from Munteme to Kagadi, extension of safe water in urban towns, construction of more health centres and fast-tracking of oil exploration activities were fulfi lled.

Suppose Museveni had not contested again due to the existence of the presidential term limits, how sure are we that the person who would have replaced him would have continued with his programmes successfully.

Aware that at 68 years, Museveni is eligible to run for another term before he turns 75, the Constitutional age limit, and also aware that Museveni has the support from the electorate come 2016, the opposition have embarked on the campaign to reinstate term limits in the Constitution to block him.

It is unfortunate that some NRM MPs supporting the reinstatement of the term limits don't see the intention of the opposition. The opposition believe that they can defeat any other candidate fronted by NRM other than Museveni.

If Uganda is really a democracy, how can we stop one from running for the presidency on grounds that he has been around for some time yet the masses still want him and he has been able to stay on because of the will of the people who have continuously voted for him in a free and fair democratic electoral process?

Why don't we leave the decision to remove one from the presidency or any electoral offi ce to the people? I believe the people cannot tolerate a leader who has not performed to their expectations.

Museveni has, since 1996 to date, been voted overwhelmingly in highly competitive presidential races because he has proved to be a good leader by delivering on his promises.

Any development-oriented and peace-loving Ugandan would certainly want Museveni to stay around for some more time to consolidate his gains and make more achievements.

The country has registered tremendous development under Museveni, manifested in the fi elds such as the fast-growing middle class, the booming construction sector, the private sector, and the banking and transport sectors.

The people should be left to decide for themselves instead of the opposition feeding them on lies that the Museveni regime is insensitive to their suffering and has left them in abject poverty.

True there still exists some poverty, but many households have registered some remarkable economic development and can afford a decent shelter, meal and have acquired property, which were a preserve of the rich before Museveni came to power.

I know of many rural farmers who use their personal trucks to transport their produce to markets and have set up projects in their home trading centres.

Today, as urban dwellers relax in city hotels in Kampala watching football from giant screens, peasants in most rural areas like Kiziranfumbi in Hoima are also enjoying the same, which has been enabled by the rural electrifi cation. This shows some relative level of uniformity in development across the country.

Ugandans should not be hoodwinked by those agitating for the restoration of term limits. Let the people choose their leaders through the ballot box.

Writer is the Chairperson Keep NRM Alive, Bunyoro task force

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