President Museveni has said that the event of searching leaders in the Uganda and African at large should not be merely legalistic and about who should lead but a choice made putting in consideration the utmost needs of the people and the country.
Museveni made the statements yesterday at Entebbe State House, where he was hosting members of the parliamentary legal affairs committee who had called to consult him regarding the on going age limit debate.
He told the committee that Uganda and Africa still face a number of challenges among them being under-developed and backward, and therefore, search for leadership in the continent must be tailored to her needs with focus on substance not form.
“In a continent like Africa, where we have had a leadership crisis and still faced with many challenges, we need to be flexible, not merely legalistic and utilise all the potential from both the young and old. This is because it is more about our safety, survival and prosperity and not who leads us on that journey,” Museveni said.
Citing cases of the United States of America, China, Russia and Israel, among others, President Museveni explained that many of these countries, in their push to develop and transform, had been guided by leaders who were of advanced age and led the countries for decades.
“Israel has since 1948 been rotating leaders young and old. Today Israel is a super power yet in a largely hostile environment. The great leaders that transformed China, Deng Xiaoping and Deng Yingchao, were of advanced age,” he said.
“The great United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchhill was leader up to the age of 81 and offered some of the best leadership to his country.”
President Museveni also cited the case of Tunisia, which in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, had seen 91-year-old Beji Caid Essebsi elected President to stabilise the political situation.
He added: “I think the problem of Africans is concentrating on trivialities yet our issues should be about the African destiny and how to guarantee our future.”
The President also noted that another problem was the “shallowness” of some political actors on the African scene, “who seem to say our interest is to improve curriculum vitae (CVs) of individuals. They want to say ‘eyaliko President’. We are not here to give jobs to people”.
The Parliamentary Legal affairs committee headed by legislator Jacob Oboth Oboth was consulting president Museveni in his capacity as a political party leader and former presidential candidate. However, they will not consult Dr Kizza Besigye who also happens to be a former presidential candidate.
Museveni also advised the committee to allow Ugandans whom he said are the custodians of the constitution and the country to decide who they want as their leader through a democratic process (elections).
He said that legalities like the age limit stipulated in article 102b of the constitution infringe on article 1 of the same which gives people the mandate to determine who wields power over them.
The age limi Bill was tabled by Igara West Member of parliament, Raphael Magyezi in September. In the Bill, Mr Magyezi proposes to relax the lower age limit cap as well as scrap the upper age limit cap in the constitution.
Should the Bill be passed into law, it would give President Museveni another run for the top seat despite having clocked the initial constitutional limit to hold the office by age.