The talk of amending article 102(b) of the constitution in a bid to change the lower and higher age limit from 35 and 75 years started shortly after the 2016 elections.
The debate grew day by day and by the middle of 2017, the talk was ripe in corridors of both parliament and in the public domain.
Fast forward, on the afternoon of December 20, parliament finally passed the age limit bill in what many described as a Christmas gift to President Yoweri Museveni.
In an open vote on the floor of the August House, a total of 317 MPs voted in favour of the motion to lift the age limit whereas 97 members voted against. Only two members abstained from the vote.
Addressing Parliament in July the Minister for Constitutional Affairs, Kahinda Otafiire said the Constitution is not his property but for the people of Uganda adding that it is not a commandment of God that it cannot be changed.
“All the articles of the Constitution are up for amendment if the people of Uganda so choose,” he said.
Many people especially politicians claimed that lifting of the presidential age limit was meant to benefit president Museveni who is 73 years and by the end of his current term in office, he would have clocked the maximum age limit of 75 years for a presidential candidate.
Meanwhile, Museveni cleared the air on the talk of age limit that was doing rounds in various corridors and public domains.
Speaking at a press conference at State House in Entebbe, Museveni denied knowledge of any bill intended to lift the age limit.
“I hear a lot about it but I don’t follow it because I am busy with my programs, “Museveni responded to a question from journalists.
“Whoever is talking about the bill is misguided and has no background to it.I don’t have time for speculation.”
Yellow boy Abiriga
Meanwhile, Arua municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga became the champion of the lifting of the age limit and was at one time involved in a fist fight with his Ayivu counterpart Bernard Atiku (Ayivu) over unclear circumstances but some people say it is because of the former’s big voice on scrapping of the age limit.
Yellow clothes including cap, shoes, trouser, shirt and vehicle were part of his trademark wear.
On October,3, the constitutional amendment bill that sought among other issues to scrap the age limit for presidential candidates from the Constitution was tabled for the first reading on the floor of parliament.
The Constitutional Amendment No. 2 Bill, 2017 was tabled by Igara West Member of Parliament Raphael Magyezi who said he had secured a Certificate of Financial Implication from the Ministry of Finance before the speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga referred it to the committee on legal and parliamentary affairs
In the middle of the debate about lifting of the age limit, Democratic Party, Uganda’s oldest political party came up with a slogan ‘Togikwatako’, a Luganda word literally translated as ‘don’t dare touch it.’
This was meant to be the theme for those fighting against lifting of the age limit.
The slogan spread like wild fire and in a few months, Togikwatako was the talk of the town all over the country.
Meanwhile, as part of their efforts to spice up their fight against lifting of age limit, the opposition introduced the red ribbon and this was also intended to counter the yellow attire by yellow boy Abiriga.
Activists would put on red caps, jackets, trousers and ribbons on their heads as they chanted Togikwatako wherever they were.
When consultations by members of parliament begun, opposition MPs organized joint rallies but these were short-lived as police asked each legislator to hold meetings in their own respective constituencies.
Rallies by Kato Lubwama (Rubaga South), Medard Sseggona(Busiro East) and Allan Ssewanyana(Makindye West) were some of these that were never allowed to see the day’s sun.
In Rukungiri, one person was killed by police as they tried to stop FDC and opposition stalwart Dr.Kizza Besigye, Patrick Amuriat and Ingrid Turinawe who were going to address a rally in Rukungiri stadium.
Fight in Parliament
September 27th and 28th were days to remember in the year 2017 of Togikwatako as Members of Parliament were involved in a scuffle with security operatives alleged to be from the Special Forces Command, the elite force mandated to guard the president.
A section of Opposition members alleged that one of the legislators had entered in the House with a gun sparking chaos as some members tried to exchange blows forcing the speaker to suspend 25 legislators from the August House.
The MPs however refused to leave the house leading to a fist fight as a team of plain-clothed security operatives moved in and started ‘kicking out’ the MPs one by one.
On December 20, parliament finally passed the age limit bill pending president Museveni’s signature to become law.