There was drama at the funeral of Dr. Abel Rwendeire, the former Deputy Chairman of the National Planning Authority at Kibuzigye Primary school playground in Bubaare Sub County in Rubanda District on Sunday.
It all started after Rev.Fr. Hebert Agaba, the Kakore Catholic Church Parish Priest who while leading the funeral mass, recognised Reverend Fr. Gaetano Batanyenda, the Chairperson Kigezi Inter-Religious Council and Kitanga Catholic Parish Priest.
He hailed him for his strong mobilisation against the proposed amendment of article 102(b) in the 1995 constitution. Article 102(b) restricts the president’s age to between 35 and 75 years.
All was well until Ruth Nankabirwa; the Government Chief Whip took to the podium. She accused Fr. Batanyenda of being at the forefront of fighting the proposed amendment, saying there is need to amend the article since it is only God who determines one’s age on earth.
Nankabirwa’s statement didn’t go down well with the mourners, they shouted back saying “Togyikwatako” loosely translated don’t touch it, a phrase adopted by those opposed to the proposed constitutional amendment.
Other mourners hurled insults at the government whip prompting Fr. Batanyenda to try and grab the microphone from Nankabirwa in vain.
Fr. Gaetano Batanyenda, the Kitanga Catholic Church Parish Priest, says the way Nankabirwa was booed down shows that Ugandans are aware that all those behind the proposed amendment are parasites who don’t wish to see a peaceful transition of power in the country.
He vowed to continue preaching against the age limit removal despite intimidations and harassment by state operatives.
The Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda who was the chief mourner didn’t comment on the matter. He described the late Dr. Rwendeire as a patriot, nonsectarian and development oriented person.
Dr. Rwendeire succumbed to heart failure at Nakasero Hospital in Kampala on Thursday at 66 years of age. He is survived with six children and four grandchildren. He joined NPA in July 2008 following his four-year tenure as a Managing Director at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, (UNIDO).
He has also been chairing the Makerere University visitation Committee, which was constituted by president, Museveni to investigate into the affairs of the university.
The committee, which was appointed on November 15, 2016 had completed it report and has been waiting for an appointment to hand over the report to President, Museveni.
Rwendeire also represented Rubanda East in parliament from 1996 to 2001. During this time Dr. Rwendeire also served in different ministerial portfolios including Minister of State for Tourism, Trade and Industry; and Minister of State for Higher Education.