15 November 2017

Uganda: Age Limit Amendment Shouldn't Be About a Person's Achievements

opinion

I read with dismay Mr Fabiano Okware's comment titled 'Consult and debate age limit, but give credit where it is due' (Daily Monitor, November 1). I cannot agree more with him save for the fact that as many have argued, Article 102(b) should not be amended to fit the needs of one person. The writer's entire article is about giving credit to only the President excluding other government officials who could have also made good contributions to whatever little we are enjoying today. He only mentions them when heaping blame on them for the many failed government programmes.

Rightfully noting that the attack on Parliament was a disgrace, and would cost Parliament a lot to redeem its image, he falls short of asking fundamental questions such as: Who raided Parliament and why? How about citing the atmosphere under which the proposal was tabled in the first place? The proposal has met resistance because it is viewed with suspicion. As his comment was going to the printer, the Speaker of Parliament was also writing to the President asking the very questions he raises. Much as amending the Constitution is constitutional, the intention of the framers and the history of the mother State should be considered. In the case of Uganda, we have a history of not being able to change leadership peacefully.

Countries like USA may not have age limits, but they have the capacity to change from one leader to another peacefully. They have strong institutions and while they have had challenges with their Constitution, they do not rush to amend it. For example, the USA politics has always had presidential elections characterised by debates of whom or which president should appoint the next Supreme Court justice.

This is because the Supreme Court judges have no retirement age even if the vegetate on the job. However, they have not rushed to amend their constitution. Their campaigns are also largely issue-based and that is why even some old candidates like Bunny Sanders make a mark in their history.

Making the argument that Uganda needs to amend the Constitution so as to avoid the turmoil we went through in the past, is proof intellectual dishonesty. A country cannot be held hostage to the false philosophy that when one leader leaves, all hell will break loose. The Constitution is in place to guard against such situations from reoccurring.

Since capturing power, Museveni has enjoyed the honour of appointing and reshuffling judges and Cabinet ministers at his freewill and as such, when accountability is sought by Ugandans, he cannot be left out. The failures of programmes mentioned such as Entandikwa, Naads, Operation Wealth Creation and the Youth Livelihood Fund, which was later changed to Youth Capital Venture Fund, is deterrent to peaceful change of guard. In some areas, cows given under Opeartion Wealth Creation have been slaughtered due to hunger and poverty. In such cases, the implementers have little to answer about these conundrums.

Scandal after scandal such as the Temangalo saga, Katosi Road project, losses made by NSSF, Crane Bank receivership by Bank of Uganda just to mention a few, are public knowledge and the appointing authority cannot feign ignorance and make it seem as though he is unwilling to crack the whip on his errant officers.

As the President has rightfully stated, the police are infiltrated by criminals. In some cases, when whistle-blowers reported to police, the criminal would be notified right way. How then would someone expect the wanachi to report well-connected suspects? Instead, government institutions such as the IGG, the police and the Judiciary should be strengthen to fight the vice.

Comparing Uganda to her neighbours such as Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, etc renders the comment writers argument a lie. For countries that were at the same level of economic growth at independence to have excelled and already attained middle income status, Uganda still dreams of attaining the same. They are increasingly showing that we cannot attain middle income status by 2020.

Mr Kantinti is a former MP for Kyadondo East. 

 

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