As the debate on the proposed presidential age limit removal continues, Uganda Radio Network traces the issue back to the Constitution making process in 1995, when the Constituent Assembly–CA Delegates handled the issue extensively. From the Parliament Hansard, Uganda Radio Network revisits the CA debate and now brings you the details of who said what.
As the debate on the proposed presidential age limit removal continues, Uganda Radio Network traces the issue back to the Constitution making process in 1995, when the Constituent Assembly (Delegates) handled the issue extensively.
Below is the debate that preceded the insertion of Article 102 in the 1995 Constitution.
James Wapakhabulo, the Constituent Assembly Chairman, chaired the session that convened on Monday 13th March 1995, at the International Conference Centre, Kampala to consider the draft Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.
Article 102(b) has now become a source of controversy after Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi tabled the Constitutional ( Amendment ) (No. 2) Bill, 2017 that seeks to remove the clause which caps the presidential age at 75 years.
The bill has been strongly opposed by the Opposition, a section of the ruling National Resistence Movement (NRM) party MPs, Law dons, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), some religious leaders among others. Those opposed to the bill argue that it seeks to allow President Yoweri Museveni rule for life.
From the Hansard, Uganda Radio Network revisits the CA debate and now brings you the details of who said what.
Joseph Mulenga (DP party Delegate and Select Committee 2 Chairman): Mr. Chairman, Article 102 and the Committee recommends that this Article be amended by recasting paragraph (b), deleting Paragraph (c) and renumbering paragraph (d) as (c) so as to read as follows: ‘A person is not qualified for election as President unless he is (a) a citizen of Uganda by birth (b) 40 years of age or above, and. (c) a person qualified to be a member of Parliament.’
Mr. Chairman I have to report that originally there was to be a minority report moved by Hon. Crispus Kiyonga but he has indicated that he is dropping it. So as of now we don’t have a minority report.
Mr. Chairman, may I seek your guidance as to whether I talk to the Clause or paragraph by paragraph?
Wapakhabulo: What we can do is take (b)
Mulenga: It was recommended that although this might look like discriminatory provision as among citizens, I beg to move that (a) and (b) adopted without amendment.
Wapakhabulo (The Chairman): Agreed?
Hon. Delegates: Yes
Mulenga: Mr. Chairman, as will be noted from the footnotes, there are ways of amendments sought to change the minimum age qualification. It is recommended by the Odoki Commission that it be 40 years of age for the President. The Committee by majority adopted that position and only changed the formulation instead of reading as it does in the Draft to read 40 years of age or above.
Mr. Chairman, before I leave the floor I wanted to draw the attention to the reasons given for adopting 40. Mr. Chairman, It was the view of the majority of the committee that at the age of 40, one has acquired not only the fundamental education but also experience and has been exposed to the intricacies of State matters.
It is only in rare exceptions that history has recorded a few brilliant extra-ordinary leaders who have led effectively and ably at age below that, and we thought while this provision may exclude such exceptional cases, it was a fair provision to cover the average leader of the country. So, we considered the age of 30, 35 and those who were rejected in favour of 40.
Chepsikor Muhammad (Youth Delegate – Eastern Region):Mr. Chairman, at this point I would like to oppose the recommendation given by this Committee 2. I would like to delete the following words: ‘40 years of age’ and replace it with ‘25 years of age or above.’
Hon. Kabugo Mesusera (Nakaseke County): Seconded!
Chepsikor: Mr. Chairman, I would like to actually request the Hon. Members not to worry about the age. We are fighting for unity and justice in this country and more so we are fighting for democracy.
In this country our percentage, Mr. Chairman, is high and therefore, we also want to participate in decision making process in this country.
The recommendation is very unfair, Mr. Chairman, is very unfair. It is very sectarian when it comes to age and it seeks to stop the youth from active politics of this country and of course politics which matter. We are men and women of substance, Mr. Chairman. We are innovative, dynamic, Mr. Chairman.
Rhoda Kalema (Kiboga East County): Is the Hon. Member holding the floor in order to confuse this House that age is a sect? Is it a sectarian matter is one is below 40? Is it a matter of a sect or is it just a group?
Wapakhabulo (The Chairman): I thought that the Uganda population is divided into sections of age and you follow by that logic he is in order. Please go ahead.
Chepsikor: Mr. Chairman, I would like to inform my mother Hon. Kalema that maybe after my submission she may come and we actually sort out the problem. Mr. Chairman, the recommendation is trying to limit the young men and women of this country to grass root politics.
This is very dangerous because we are limited when it comes to decision making at high levels. How are we going to be emancipated now? Mr. Chairman, we are tired of being used as tools by some old politicians. We need democracy and freedom because we are the custodians of this Constitution.
Mr. Chairman, what matters is what one produces.But the age should not worry the Members. Mr. Chairman, I must assure the House that we are going to work side by side by our elders. For us we are not going to bring segregation in this society.
Therefore, I feel that we should support this amendment so that we build our country. Mr. Chairman, I humbly request members to support this amendment so that we come up with a clear Constitution for this country. A Constitution supported by everyone. Thank you.
Wapakhabulo (The Chairman): Let us first of all be clear as to what we are debating. A motion has been moved by Hon. Chepsikor and it was seconded by many members. That motion seeks to amend the recommendation in paragraph (b)so that the reference to (h) is changed to 25 years of age or above. To delete 40 years and replace it with 25 years.
Atwoki Ambrose (Youth Delegate): Mr. Chairman, first of all want to clear this impression which is coming from the members that it is only in exceptional cases that Presidents below 40 years can perform very well.
I do not believe in that kind of mystery. I believe that age does not qualify somebody into a class of being capable or incapable. I believe that our priorities should be to look at the capability of the person.
I believe that it is important for us not to be seen to move a very radicle amendment. I was trying to seek the permission of the Mover to allow me amend- to move an amendment to the amendment and say that we put the age of the president at 35 years.
Chepsikor: Mr. Chairman, I support the suggestion given by Hon. Atwooki because many elders have consulted me and therefore, I fully support the recommendation. Thank you.
Atwoki: Mr. Chairman, I was saying that we should not be seen to be to radicle to advocate for age limit which might not be practical and feasible. I thank my friend Hon. Chepsikor for accepting the amendment.
I was saying that the performance of an individual cannot be judged by age only. There are other bases of capability – a human being at the age of 35 which can be exploited. I can say confidently that our current president exposed his leadership capabilities when he was even below 40. By the mere fact that he exposed his capability was because he had a forum to expose that capability, to expose his leadership qualities.
Mr. Chairman, it is also important to note that we should try to tap the participation and skills from the young generation. Mr. Chairman, we have seen very great leaders like J.F. Kennedy who was able to lead the greatest nation in the world at the age of not more than 40.
I was a bit surprised when my neighbor Hon. Cecilia commented that she cannot standby to see his grandson becoming the president. I believe that this kind of attitude is so dangerous and anti-developmental.
Mr. Chairman, I also want to observe that with the current prevalence of this scourge of AIDS it is important that we are given chance to lead so that people tap our leadership capabilities before we die.
Mr. Chairman, with those few remarks I beg to support the motion.
Lt. Noble Mayombo (NRA Delegate): Mr. Chairman, I would like to dispel the impression that has been created that young people in this Assembly are ambitious. That is why they are agitating for the reduction of the age.
But I would hasten to support the motion Mr. Chairman, that at the age of 35 as proposed by my friend Atwooki is a fair age – is a fair judgement bearing in mind our life expectancy in Africa and in Uganda in particular and bearing in mind the fact that the ultimate decision maker is the people having seen the different programmes that candidates put up.
But I would like, Mr. Chairman, to move an amendment if the Movers accept to re-read that it should be not less than 35 years of age and not more than 75. I beg to move, Mr. Chairman. (Applause)
Hanifa Kawooya: Seconded!
Wapakhabulo: Let us first know what we are talking about. The motion before us is that the recommendation be amended by deleting 40 and inserting 35.
But Hon. Mayombo seeks to go further and amend by adding that, ‘should be not less than 35 years and not more than 75 years.’ It would then read that: ‘The person is not qualified for election as President unless he is not less than 35 years of age or not more than 75.’
But the words used, is not qualified for election, which means actually we can have a President who is above 75. Because someone who is 74 can be elected and if he is serving 5 years he definitely will be above it. Is that what you are having in mind or you are saying a person shall not be a President of Uganda if he attains the age of 75.
An Hon. Delegate: This is what I am driving at.
Wapakhabulo: What is it that you are looking for?
An Hon. Delegate: Mr. Chairman, I am looking where we are looking for accumulated experience in public affairs. We would also not like to have the office of the President which is very exacting in the hands of the people who are- this is what we are looking for.
Dr. William Kaberuka (Ndorwa West County): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I am, just wondering, if the President will be voted for by the people of Uganda. Why don’t we leave the question of age to them? Because if they feel 17 million people, if they feel that a ten year old can lead them, let them do that really. Why don’t we leave them the choice?
Wapakhabulo (The Chairman): Well, you have not answered my question We have a definite proposition before us, there is a proposition of 35 years. That proposition someone is seeking to amend to put an upper limit for purposes of election to Presidency at 75 that is how it has been worded.
In the event of that happening you can still have a President who is above 75. I presume the intention is to say that they do not want someone who is 75 to have the business of putting himself before people as a candidate. Or, are they saying he can put himself as a candidate and go on to serve another five years, or to four or ten whichever it is.
Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere (Igara West County): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.I think the logic of lowering the age to 35 is that the people are progressively maturing at an earlier age.
That is one major reason because in some countries in fact marriage has been reduced to 14, voting age to 16 because the children are maturing much earlier than in the past.
But then at the same time, in this century alone life expectancy has been going up so much so that if at 65, at 70 and expecting another 20 years or more in some countries where the standard of living has improved very much.
And, we are talking therefore, of a future where Uganda may have citizens who will be very competent still able in the eyes of the population to lead them even when they are over 75 years of age.
For me I would recommend-I would advise Hon. Mayombo that let us put the lower limit other than the upper limit. Otherwise even now we have already pushed the retiring age in the civil service to 60 instead of 55. Because let us not look at the seniority as if it was a pure characteristic of chronological age. There are people who may live longer and be able to live at 80 or 85 and they are still not senile.
Therefore, I would rather in terms of anticipatory recommendation, that we lower the limit of qualification and leave the upper limit open to the population who may judge who is senile or not. I thank you Sir.
Dr. John Kabayo (Kassanda South): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I had wanted earlier to rise on a point of procedure because I thought that we should be looking at the minority position now which sought to delete –
Wapakhabulo: No, no that one was abandoned.
Dr. Kabayo: Mr. Chairman, I wanted to propose that we set no limit for age either way up or down as a Motion. But my Motion will only be through deleting (b) so that there is no specified age limit.
Wapakhabulo (The Chairman): Is that seconded?
Wapakhabulo: Okay, is it is seconded that we delete paragraph (b) then we have to dispose of that one first. I will give the Floor to the Mover to give his reasons and then we proceed.
Dr. Kabayo:Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. There have been contributions from the floor already some favouring upper limit others favouring lower limit. Mr. Chairman, as my neighbor pointed out, the people who will be making a choice will be able to tell whether a certain age is appropriate or not. We should not, therefore, select the age for them.
Secondly, Mr. Chairman, in the past there have been examples of Presidents who have attained Presidency at a very early age. To mention some, Sergeant Doe and others who if we had taken a limit would obviously not have qualified.
Mr. Chairman, there is no need to set the limit because the electorate themselves will be able to determine that.And there is nothing drastically wrong with somebody’s age, some people mature earlier than others, and the population will be able to tell who are capable and who are not. I therefore propose that we do not set an age limit and leave it to the population to decide. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Aggrey Awori (Samia Bugwe North County): Mr. Chairman, initially I was seeking guidance from the chair on the preamble to the amendment. Mr. Chairman, in your remarks you brought out two important points.
One, the question of election and two, eligibility to serve as President, Mr. Chairman,if it was possible we should make an amendment to the preamble on the amendment so that it should read: “A person is not eligible for the office of the President unless he is: (a) a citizen of Uganda by birth, (b) of the age up to 75 or 70.”
Mr. Chairman, I am bringing out this point because as you already mentioned, if somebody is a Speaker of the House and he is 74 and he has been calamity. Mr. Chairman, that person should not be eligible. Because when he reaches 75 it means, he has to give up the office of President.
So right from the beginning, Mr. Chairman, we should not use the word election but it should be eligibility to the office of the President.
Wapakhabulo (The Chairman): But the Motion now on the Floor seeks to delete so that if we carry it issues you are raising now become academic as long as you are a citizen of Uganda by birth. According to this and have qualified to be a Member of Parliament that would be sufficient if the amendment is carried.
Now can I see those who speak for the amendment by Hon. Kabayo?
MwesigwaRukutana (Rushenyi County): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.I support the Motion on ground that we have agreed that there may be extra-ordinary circumstances when a too young person may be so genius as to qualify for this office. On the other hand too old fellows could be so genius to qualify for the office.
We have agreed that the President will be elected by the people of Uganda and we do not have any doubt in the wisdom of the people of Uganda.
Mr. Chairman, my point is that we should not be deprived of these genius or extra-ordinary leaders. You will agree with me that you can find a genius to be at 85 and convince Ugandans to elect him as President. Once you are deprived of that genius leadership.
On the other hand or likewise, it takes a genius for somebody of 18 or above to convince the populace of Uganda to elect him as President. Mr. Chairman, why should Uganda be deprived of such genius or qualitative or extra-ordinary leadership?
On that ground I would support the amendment so that we should not take any age limit.
Gerald Ssendaula (Bukoto South): Mr. Chairman, I certainly support the amendment that we remove wall, so that we leave it open.
First of all within our electoral laws whether we have not reached but all the same we shall at one stage or another allow people to register at a certain age, and we shall also allow the same people to even contest for parliament at a certain age.
Now the vote contesting and even registering as voters are much lower than the age 40 or even lower than 35. Now if these people go out and convert votes and be voted for to enter parliament, why should there be then a restriction on them.Is that not going to be infringing on their rights not to be permitted to contest the presidency.
If someone has been found to be genius ready to take up the role of a presidency, that is for the voters to judge. It will be the voters they will be in fact assessing all the candidates who will be offering themselves to stand.
Say here I say, I want to be the President of the Republic of Uganda, and then the Ugandans will have the whole right to say you either right or you are not.
So I strongly support the idea of removing (b) from our article. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Lt. Col. Kizza Besigye (NRA Delegate): Mr. Chairman, first of all maybe I should mention that I was supporting the minority report which was withdrawn unfortunately I did not know that I had been abandoned without my knowledge.
This is because I think the principle of democracy ought to be looked at very closely. We have said that power belongs to the people. We can only act on their behalf when they are not around we can act and to that extent we can represent them and take decision. But we have already taken a decision, Mr. Chairman that the President will be directly elected by everybody.
In other words the decision of who will become a President is no longer in our hands but they are going to handle it themselves directly.
And, Mr. Chairman, Therefore, I think it will be unfair of us having taken that fundamental decision that this will be a direct one man to one man decision of the people of Uganda to now limit them as if they cannot take a decision themselves at that stage.
Quite obviously the question will accompany the position. Somebody will say this man is immature, he has no experience, he has no this please do not vote for him, and the population will listen to all these people and will take a decision, and their decision should be supreme and final because they are the sovereignty of Uganda.
It is to that extent, Mr. Chairman, that I think we should not- in fact all discussion was brought about qualification in Education, even qualification in education, people will tell the population this man is not educated elect him or do not elect him.
If the people choose to elect him knowing that maybe he did not go to University or has no PhD, that is their decision and it should be final and we should respect it.
We should respect the sovereignty of Uganda and I do not think we should engage in putting age limit here. I support the deletion, Mr. Chairman.
Prof. Apollo Nsibambi (Presidential Nominee): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.I am totally against removing guidelines. We have to have guidelines for a number of reasons.
First, Uganda lacks widely acceptable institutions which normally assist a leader in shaping the destiny of the country. In those countries which have acquired these institutions, you can afforest the luxury of having someone who is a mediocre because essentially the institutions are strong and they shape that person.
Now in our circumstances it is incumbent upon the leader to shape these institutions and when he has shaped the institutions then he can forego power and we enter the period of institutionalization. The period occurs when institutions have acquired autonomy, intricacy, and they can shape our lives.
Secondly, we have not even free primary education to our people, we have not. In other words, even giving people the necessary signals through the written words is difficult. And they are now giving them this very hard term to pronounce on very difficult issues.
Thirdly, Uganda is a periphery country lacking the basic of technology and so on and so forth. So a leader in this country is grappling with many odds including metropolitan countries which are trying to shape the destiny of this country and some are misleading this country. He has an over load of functions.
Uganda lacks a strong civil society and here when you speak of a civil society, you are essentially speaking of private institutions which enjoy a degree of autonomy and the enrich the quality of life they also tape the state, and in the absence all this, we are gambling too much.
I would suggest that we should not gamble with this country any more we have to have some guidelines.
And the question of age is critical because we are dealing with issues of experience, we are also dealing with issues of acquired tolerance because of certain mistakes you might have made in the past and maturity. So I strongly oppose what is on the floor.
Lagada Amongi (Woman Delegate- Apac): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I want to oppose the motion of deletion of the age limit for the Presidency.
I believe that every human being has something to gain as he grows older. I believe that what a person does at 40 or at 50 years or the way he behaves or handle issues is not the way he will handle those same issues at 20 years of age.
I want to take the example of a mother for example. Most people who are firstborn will age that the way your parents treat you when they are young parents is not the same way they treat their later children.
They treat them differently in the sense that they have had experience, they become more tolerant and usually their divisions or the way they behave is more mature and better. I think the office of the President is a very tasking.
And as Hon. Nsibambi has just explained, the man or a woman you are putting in that office is going to grapple with a lot of things. He is going to work to take important decisions.
He is going to have to interact with other international leaders. We are here trying to say that simply because he has stood for elections and the population has voted him maybe at the age of 18 or 20 or whatever, and he has been voted in by a population who are mainly may not necessarily have understood the wider issues involved which this man is going to grapple with.
We should therefore, trust him because the population has trusted him. I think we are going too far Hon. Members. You will remember that earlier we put age limit for High Judges and such people, why because we think that is an office of high responsibility, why are we then trying to make the Presidency a smaller office or one which does not require so much responsibility.
Is it fair really to put the burden of leadership on somebody who is so young who may be led by emotions which an older person who would not be survived by Mr. Chairman.
I think we should put an earlier age limit- I mean an age limit, a lower one and also the upper one because I believe that between ages you are more responsible than you would be when you either young or very old. Thank you.
Wapakhabulo (The Chairman): Let us do it this way. If we go on we shall debate for two days. We have had a number of contributions before and against. Let us have those for the motion; I will take two and then I will take two against. For the motion let us take Hon. KabirisiRuberenga Hope, and then-
Mulenga: I though since this is in substance, the minority report revived, unless you give opportunity to the committee to explain why it rejected that position.
Wapakhabulo (The Chairman): No, this is not a minority report. This is a Motion by Hon. Kabayo.
Mulenga: It is a substance of-
Wapakhabulo (The Chairman): Because I think the Chairman of the committee wants to take us to a situation where he is contending lines in the committee to come back on the plenary.
Mulenga: But it is the one to delete.
Wapakhabulo (The Chairman): For us here what we know is that, there is a Motion by Hon. Kabayo it has received support and it has also received opposition and I am picking on Members so that we declare ourselves on the matter. I will call on Hon. Kabirisi Ruberenga to make her contribution to the Motion and then I will come around.
Kabirisi Ruberenga (Women Delegate – Bushenyi): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I support the deletion of putting an age limit to a Presidential candidate for the simple reason that one, in Article (1) which was passed by this House we said that all powers belong to the people.
If a person can go out and convince the majority of the population of this country that he is capable of leading them. I do not see why we should sit here and give ourselves the mandate to say they are wrong.
We should leave it to the people of this country to decide who they think is most capable of leading them. We have heard arguments; a Hon. Delegate gave an example of motherhood. It is true that if you are a first born you do suffer because your mother does not have experience.
But I do not think anybody will ever have a chance of being a first President then you go back and test. That question can only arise at the second term option, that is when we can say that no, your first term was not good enough, out you go.
Secondly, we have heard arguments and which I support that we might have geniuses. Why should we miss those geniuses just because we think they are not good enough? There is also an issue of human beings as all doctors can testify human beings mature differently no matter the age. You might meet a 50-year-old behaving like a twenty 20- year-old.
Likewise you can meet a 20-year-old behaving as mature as a 50-year-old. SO why should we put limitations? Let us leave the people of this country to decide, if at 20 you can go out and convince 51 percent or more of the people of this country that you are capable of leading them.
So be it, and so God help this country if will have been the people of the country who will have spoken and we should not sit here and give ourselves a mandate and change what we have already said. We have already said that all power belongs to the people. Now we are trying to say Oh! no, you have the power but we are going to decide for you at what limit. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Kennedy Sebalu (Youth Delegate – Central Region): Mr. Chairman, I do support the Motion as moved by Hon. Kabayo because we should really address the issues here and not symptoms. Because when we are looking at leaders, what do we look after when we are electing leaders?
We are looking for qualities and abilities. And to my understanding qualities and abilities are not synonymous with age. Someone is either skilled in a particular field or he is not, we have seen so many elderly people who have not performed, and they are young ones who have performed.
So it must be an issue of ability and quality in leadership. We have examples here we have ministers who are below 40 and I do not think they were appointed because they were not performers. We have Hon. Owiny –Dollo he is below 40 and so many others, and they are doing job.
And they are so many who are above 40 who are- I am not going to go into this, and I do not know the – what was the reason for that. So it is ability and we should look at ability.
When we look at the revolution, the revolution which was started by NRM, all the people, the core of the revolutionaries who started it were below 40. And are you going to tell me that they were no people above 40 at the time?
Many of them were and they just joined when things were put in the right place, But it was because those people had leadership qualities. So we should look at the leadership qualities. And besides when we are making a constitution we should look at avenues of tapping all possible talents and we must open the door to all possible talents so that we take maximum utilization of our human resources.
The Professor has taught about so many theoretical concepts but these are not understandable by our people in the villages. Otherwise you are going to say that the Presidents of Uganda are going to be professors alone, but are professors the only performers? They are not necessarily the only performers.
So these theoretical concepts are not going to help us. Professors should come to use and we analyse issues critically. Let us look for ability not qualification otherwise the qualification of the President would have been PHD, but that was not the case because we know that they are so many who can perform without those qualifications.
And I do agree with the Chairman of committee 2. He said that we may have extra-ordinary talents. That is very good and it is for that very reason that I do support this Motion. Let us not close the door to these extra-ordinary talented people. He said it himself and we should give them room. I think the chairman, should support the Motion by just saying that, accepting that we have such people is enough reason to give them room to come in and have their contribution to this nation.
We should leave it to the electorate because we have already pronounced ourselves and said, power belongs to the people. Let the people ultimately decide who their leaders are going to be and if we are talking of democracy how are we going to have democracy without having democrats. Because if we are not democrats and we are closing certain people and we are talking of democracy then those are double standards.
So we should allow our people to choose their leaders, we are going to vote for ability and not age, and besides our life expectancy is somewhere around 48. So if you are putting it to 40 alone, – 42 I am being informed. But is you are going to put that as the minimum age someone serves for one term and we feel he could have even have done for another one.
Since the life expectancy is so low let us look at all these problems we are faced with and let us leave the door open and, let us not underestimate the ability of our people. Let them judge and when I support the Motion, I do not say that the leader must be of 25 or 30 no, what I am saying is that it is not democratic even to deny the person to offer himself for election.
Let someone offer himself for candidature and let the people decide that is what we are really looking at. Mr. Chairman, I beg the Whole House to support this Motion, and let us be very democratic and give power to the people, let them decide who their leaders are going to be. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Polly Tumwine (Youth Delegate Western Region):Thank you, Mr. Chairman, we need to know that we have passed one provision in the human rights where we said that nobody be discriminated against in terms of age, sex, to mention but a few. So we should not come here and contradict ourselves and say, because you are of such and such age, you should not contest. There we shall have contradicted ourselves.
Secondly, we have also put a provision where everyone has a right to participate in matters of this constitution. Mr. Chairman, I also want to put it to delegates that we should not be worried of the age, be it the high limit or the low limit.
We trust our population, if one wants to contest in an area where the people are seeing the qualities in that young one why should we limit it ourselves? And I also would want use to look at our past history and look at our Presidents we have had in Uganda.
If we could look at the President Dr. Obote, if we would be realistic, you would realize that in the first regime when he was still young that is when he performed better. (Applause) Is you also look- then compare the performances of Tito Okello at the age he had and the performance of the current President we have who has not gone to that age you can see that performance. Maturity, ability and capabilities do not go with the age.
I also want to put it that some people- Hon delegate, I think Hon. Lagada put it that experience goes with age. That people gain experience as they grow old but she also would recall that people also lose certain qualities as they grow old. Even the example she gave of the firstborn, last borns are the worst children in our families because the parents have already given up.
I therefore would request Hon. delegates, to take this amendment with good heart because in any case, it will give us the beast leaders if we present them to the electorate. I thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mulenga: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman I think we ought to be clear in our minds why there is qualifications and disqualifications, I think it is not quite right to use the argument as has been done by a number of members that because electorate know how to choose the leaders they should be left free without any guidance.
Mr. Chairman, if that were to be taken to its logical conclusions, we should have no qualification at all. We should lave it open to anyone to stand for election and the people – we should leave it open without any qualifications at all including citizenship, we should not be saying by birth.
Every citizen should be free or everybody so that they go to electorate and you can as was said through campaign say that fellow is not a citizen, that fellow was a citizen only two years ago the same would be applied.
Mr. Chairman, we have only one office of President that is the way we took it not everybody can be President. So when we talk about everybody should have a chance let us also take into account that we are trying to select someone for one office out of – we are now 18 million in five years time we may be 20 or 25 million.
So really to talk about, the youth are being discriminated is not correct, It is a method of shall we say sieving and the committee was of the view that thorugh the years of youth, you have a chance to learn. You have a chance to be exposed to state machine if you have taken the line of politics of leadership.
The more you are exposed to it, the more you mature towards it, and 40 years was chosen because it was a longer period than 35. Youn have seen also that earlier on there was a move or an amendment to say 25, it was a youth who said no, let us move it to 35, and currently that is the last year of youth. So really this idea of age is not as immaterial as people are making it out.
If we have had a brilliant young man we are being told why should we- or young woman, which should we be deprived of- we are not saying we are deprived of youth still have many roles to play. But for Presidency the recommendation was, he can wait. Brilliant he can wait, he can lead in other fields but wait when he is 40 years he will definitely be a mature person to be President.
So let us not say that the youth are being deprived because they are growing, they are growing, they are going towards that age. So, Mr. Chairman I would say that when we recommend that there should be age qualification, it is not to discriminate the youth. It is to say what is the best age at which we can be sure that candidates of that age are likely to be mature enough to be entrusted.
We know that during elections there are many factors that may sway the nation. Today it could be some matter that has nothing to do even with the leadership. because the fellow I am told Hon – rather the Lat President Kennedy got a chunk of his vote from his appearance that he was handsome attracted a lot of women votes.
This has been recorded in – there are factors that in – now if after using those factors basically you have got say, we have 3-4 candidates all of them have that basic then chance has it that there will be other factors but at least you will have got your minimum through that qualification.
Is your qualification is correct then through it you get candidates who qualify and other factors can apply. Mr. Chairman, Hon. Besigye has said, why do we want to limit the electorate, I think the answer of the committee is simply this, that we are not seeking to limit them we are seeking to select – to guide them as to where they have a better chance of getting the correct President.
Do not forget there are many capable persons that would probably be competing for that and we are saying among the very many, those who are of that age should be a better chance to go by.
So, Mr. Chairman, I argue I would argue delegates not to drop consideration of qualification by age. I thank you.
Dr. Higiro Ssemajega (Lwemiyaga County): Mr. Chairman, I have few points to make. But there is one thing that we need to care about. We seem now to be saying that we do not need guidelines. But throughout all the time we have been working the whole of this constitution is nothing but guidelines.
We have even limited the President, we are giving him guidelines. Mr. Chairman, we would have left the President to do whatever he wants because he was elected by all of us. But we are giving him because for the sake of Uganda. because we here we have been elected by Ugandans to do the best.
This constitution should not simply leave things emotionally. We know very well, Mr. Chairman, that even the electorates, they are people who are going to decide surely whatever we do needs to be guided, they need to be guided. So when we talk about the years it is not that we are looking down upon the people who are not certified nor are we limiting them.
But we are saying with our experience we have here that at least a man to be a President, a man or woman who is going to be viewed by other countries, who is going to meet people from China, from America, from all over should not be looked through.
There should be some elements of respect even from other countries. So, Mr. Chairman, I propose that while we may not talk about 40 years, but I go by the age limit bottom of 35 years on wards, no upper limit but surely there must be some qualifications. Mr. Chairman, I beg to oppose.
Wapakhabulo (The Chairman): Okay Hon. delegates let us pronounce ourselves on this one. The question is one of deletion that instead of talking of any age we leave it to the people, that is the underlying rationale in this Motion that we delete Paragraph (b). I now put the question.
(Question put and agreed to)
Wapakhabulo (The Chairman): Now we go back to the Motion as moved by Hon. Chepsikor and modified by Hon. Atwoki and then further modified by Hon. Mayombo. That for a person to be a President of Uganda or to be eligible for election or qualified for election should be not less than 35 years of age, or more than 75 years of age.
The rest is a question of wording really by polishing. But the rationale is to say, you must be 35 and above but you are not eligible for election if you are 75 years of age. I now put the question.
(Question put and agreed to)
Wapakhabulo (The Chairman): Hon. Ssenteza Kajubi has protested – the Chairman doesnot allow indefinite opportunity to stand up. Could the Hon. Members resume their seats please.
Maj. Gen. David Tinyefunza (NRA Delegate): Mr. Chairman, I am sorry to put you back but I beg your indulgence on this. I had written something down to make an amendment to an amendment on (b) but we have already passed. Unfortunately I did not bother about the 35 years but I had moved that we do not fix the upper limit. I know we have passed it but…
Wapakhabulo (The Chairman): We can revisit it at the reconsideration stage if you keep it in your note.
Maj. Gen. Tinyefunza: Because my Motion I think is there so –
Wapakhabulo (The Chairman): It is a bit late now really. Let us now vote on Article 102. I now put the question.
(Article 102 as amended and in accordance with recommendation of the Committee 2 put and agreed to)
The Chairman: Hon. delegates we have done a number of articles today, and we should keep this speed. With this we come to the end of today’s proceedings.
(The Assembly rose at 5:30 pm and adjourned until Tuesday 14th March, 1995 at 9:30 am)