I have read and heard what the supporters of the removal of the age limit from the Constitution and have come to admire their courage.
The main, almost the sole reason they give is that the provision that puts the upper and lower limit to the age of the president is discriminatoryagainst those who are above 75 years as well as those who are below the age of 35 years.
This is surprising because the bill itself discriminates all others who work for the Uganda government and local governments.
If they are honest then let them insert in the Constitution an article which says “There shall be no age limit for any Ugandan citizen employed in the public service”.
This would enable all the young people from one day old upwards to be recruited into the civil service, judiciary, health service, education service, police service; e.t.c.
It would also allow every such person to work until he falls dead. It’s only then that his child will succeed him.
Please let the age limit bill be buried as a still birth to save the country the un necessary trauma it is going through.
The proposed removal of the minimum age of 35 years for one to vie for presidency is only a smoke screen or a red herring to mislead the youth to support the bill blindly.
Indeed the promoters of the bill are very ashamed of stating the true reason for removing the 75 year limit which is to introduce a life presidency and that is wrong.
Deceiving the youth
Personally I find it more shameful to deceive the youth that the existence of the minimum age of 35 years is the only obstacle that stands between them and the presidency.
What a big lie to tell somebody’s child.
The youth are almost 70% of the population and they are allowed to stand as candidates and vote for candidates “freely” at any elections because the minimum age of standing and voting is 18 years.
Therefore why is it that the youth who are 70% of the voters do not elect from among themselves so that 70% of the MPs are automatically youth.
The reason is that there are many other obstacles that prevent the youth from occupying their rightful 70% of the seats in parliament and which will also block them from becoming presidents.
In the first place the electoral system is purposely so commercialised and corrupted that there is hardly any way an 18 -35 year old youth is going to compete favourably against the middle aged man who has already amassed so much wealth that he now counts in billions and has through it established plenty of contacts among the voters.
Secondly there are more than the three qualifications that we see on the surface for one to become president, (1). Is a citizen by birth, (2) is above 35 years and below 75 years, (3) is qualified to be a member of parliament.
The A-level certificate
When you compare the number of Ugandans who are above 18 years but do not have A-Level certificate or its equivalent with the number of all Ugandans who have reached the age of 75 years considering that the life expectancy is less than 50 years,you will see that the requirements that a presidential candidate should have this educational qualification eliminates millions of would be candidates whereas the 75 year limit leaves out only a handful.
In the 1962 constitution, it was provided that whoever wanted to be a member of parliament should have an O-Level certificate or should sit and pass an examination in English language whose purpose is to find out if the prospective candidate can read and understand the legal documents that will be brought to parliament and to participate in their debate.
This is how some of the best parliamentarians such as Loruk, Lobunei and Choudri from Karamoja, Anyoti (Senior) from Teso Otema Ali Madi from Acholi and BalakKirya from Bukedi came in.
Right now there are millions of Ugandans who speak and write good English but are not allowed to go parliament simply because they do not have the A-Level certificate.
Let this article be amended immediately so that all those persons including the youth can go to parliament and or become presidents.
Without that, the removal of age limits will not change their fortunes.In Tanzania, an MP can speak in parliament either in English or in Kiswahili language.
It is these two road blocks that have turned the majority youth into a pitiable and marginalized minority who are now represented by 4 or 5 specially elected MPs through the affirmative action.
It is an abomination for one any to deceive the youth that the removal of the 35 year minimum will make them presidents whereas the same 18- year minimum has not benefited them in parliamentary representation.
Let the youth wakeup and behave as those who constitute 70% of the population instead of living on handouts from the minority elders who are only 30%.
Election of the president
Everyone knows that the presidential elections have become so expensive that only people with unlimited sources of revenue can attempt to stand at it.
It’s also common knowledge that too much power is invested in the presidency to the exclusion of all others including ministers.
I therefore propose that article 103 (1) be amended to read as follows;
“The election of the president shall be by parliament”.
The cabinet chaired by the president shall remain an executive arm of the parliament to which it will report and account for each and everything it does. It will also enable even the presidential candidates, who are not elected, to remain members of parliament which in turn will make it easy for all the party leaders to meet frequently and hold dialogues whenever necessary.
Division of power between central and local governments
Up to now, I have been opposed to having a federal government in Uganda, because I feel that since we were expecting to go into the much touted East African Federation, it would be practically impossible to fit a federal system into another federal system.
There would occur a shortage of power to distribute to all levels.
But since Uganda leaders are now seeking to become life presidents instead of synchronising our administrative structures with those of the other four East African states, I am now convinced that all these endless talks about East African Federation is a mere lullaby designed to make us sleep while others plot to acquire and consolidate more and more power for their own benefits while the rest of us become hopeless and redundant in our own country, what the owners of Kyankwanzi call mere biological substances.
I am therefore compelled to propose that the relationship between the central government and the 16local governments that existed in 1962 including kingdoms and republics reverts to what existed in the 1962 Constitution except that they should be uniform.
This will establish a semi federal system in the country but all the divided powers shall be entrenched in the constitution unlike under the present decentralisation which has proved to be bogus and a mere sharing of corruption opportunities.
The author is a veteran politician and has taken part in the making of all Uganda’s constitutions including the 1995 one by the CA.