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THE LAST WORD: Too much ado over nothing

President Yoweri Museveni

Why Museveni is most likely going to succeed in amending the constitution to remove the age limit

The Last Word | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Uganda is entering a major political battle that will show us the balance of political forces between President Yoweri Museveni and his opponents. A section of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) will push for the amendment of the constitution to remove the presidential age limit so that Museveni can run in 2021. Most of the leadership of the NRM are hostile to this proposed amendment but will acquiesce to it because the party has evolved in such a way that only those who do so survive politically.

Museveni’s opponents are already mobilising against the amendment. However, these efforts are currently and largely based in urban areas. And more specifically they are happening on social media. True social media has increasingly become a powerful weapon for mass mobilisation. But whether it has the same mass appeal in rural areas, where 80% of voters are, is yet to be seen. Thus, elites may pontificate on social media from their homes and offices but are unlikely go to the grassroots to mobilise in defence of their beliefs. And this is where Museveni beats them; he is already touring the country preparing for this amendment.

If anyone wants to defeat the constitutional amendment to remove age limits, they need to go mobilise at the grassroots, even as they shout themselves hoarse on social media. Yet it is very possible that our elites will spend time pontificating in self-righteousness tones on social and other media how the removal of age limits will undermine democracy and cause instability but none of them will go to the grassroots to rally people to their cause. Our elites will also spend a lot of time appealing to America and Europe to intervene instead of appealing to the people.

The problem with most debate on democracy in Africa is that it misses the basic principles of politics. In a democracy, people who hold an idea, a policy or a desire for a constitutional amendment should be free to mobilise citizens to their cause. If they get a majority, they win. The only prohibition is that the majority cannot take away the rights of minorities. I do not see how the amendment of the constitution to remove term or age limits takes away the rights of anyone. Therefore, from a purely democratic angle, term and age limits are undemocratic because they impose limits on the will of the people to decide.

The point in the debate on term and age limits is political not legal. Law is a function of politics. Constitutions can be written with the most idealistic provisions. However, whether any provision in such a constitution will be respected does not depend on the good intentions of individual leaders but almost entirely on the balance of political forces within the country. If there is a politically weighed majority in favour of age limits they will be respected. However, if the opposite holds, the constitutions would be amended. The claim that constitutionalism is a function of good leaders is misguided and has not worked anywhere.

16 comments

  1. 1.Abraham Lincoln:”The best way to have a law repealed is to enforce it strictly”
    2. Is M7 the only man in his 70’s in Uganda?
    3.Winning elections is about numbers not age .
    4.M7 ‘s over stay in power is coz of his love for Ug nothing else.Some Africans wish they would have M7 as their president.
    5. Africans are found of spoiling people while bidding farewell to them; Honesty how can Ugandans spoil M7 and thank him?its thru amending the constitution to remove age limit;The man is almost delivering the country to a middle income earning economy,he should be around to witness the progress of some of the development he has put in place.
    6.The issue of the youth taking over power is empty talk.everyone knows that the quality of youth of the 60’s and 70’s cant be compared to the ones we have now; Why would a 14 year out drop out of school?
    7.Honestly if we had sensible people in Kyadondo;Bobi Wine would not be voted an MP what kind of people voted for Bobi Wine anyway?There are all characters in Gayaza even If you are looking for your co wife you will have her there for me i dont feel him.Let him 1st learn how to walk well i jut love the way Trump walks even if he does it with some swagg he walks well.
    8.Its too early for Bobi Wine to begin exchanging with M7.
    9.There is no age limit for MPs why do they want one for the President?
    10.Africans have good manners at times they are so understanding e.g the current President of Nigeria is sick but i have never heard any Nigerian demanding that he steps down.

    • 1.Youth after 1980 are all Yoweri School Products,so why are u ashamed of them?
      2. Middle income status? how many hours do you spend at work vis vis moving to work? how much does kampala contribute to Total GDP?
      3. M7 love for Uganda;how many times do you want him to assure u? he only works for his children and he is not your servant.
      4. Where did all the sense in kyandondo go? who has it? middle income with senseless people?
      5. M7 is just an ordinary person! he is simply a warlord who controls a colony uganda and not uganda a state.

      • If museven loved uganda that much ,he would be interested in retiring after this term than wanting to amend and remove age limit …..All these years he been in power he not seen any person capable in NRM!!! ,I dont think, he is just being mean and selfish ….our institution are not firmly functional as result of museven overstaying in power………….I would prefer his son muhoozi kainrugaba taking over or being choice or elected than museveni coming back 2021 bcoz new blood can’t fail to get good new strategies to organise uganda like he dan in SFC

    • Dickens Tiharihondijo

      Dear Winnie:
      Firstly, When you are commenting on articles like these, please stop using short hand. Words like ‘coz’ make your arguments look kiddish before someone reads them.

      Secondly, what makes you think Bobi Wine is incompetent? Because he is a musician, his looks, his background, his tribe? I just want you to be clear on where you base your argument and maybe compare with those already in parliament that you think are competent enough and what they have done.

      Thirdly, if you were the president, how many years would you want to make the country better?

  2. @ Andrew:
    1.I am ashamed of the youth coz they have failed to balance freedom with responsibility; they drop out of school coz they feel its their right,they have filled Butabika hospital with their drug overdose coz its their right to take drugs,the ladies engage in prostitution coz they are free to do so.( ( We may all not reach 70 years of age coz of HIV)Even if we get another president only 40% of the youth will be employed.Time will come when one requires a minimum of O’level to get a job as a maid or shamberboy.
    2.Who told you that middle income status is about white collar jobs in Kampala?M7 has signed Mult- Billion contracts with investors and is planning big deals like; electrification,industrialization,oil exploration,Tourism,mineral exploration all these projects are up country actually the mentality that all jobs are in Kampala is the one causing stress among the youth.
    3.We are all M7’s children thats why he works for us.Have you ever seen him sign a deal worth x,y or z for his biological children?All M7’s children are graduates do you see them on the stress begging for jobs?you always claim he favors his next of kin if he did so don’t you think he has the powers to appoint his children CEO BOU,NSSF what has stopped him?M7 respects the established Administrative structures and the rule of law.
    4.There is no hope for the Kyadondo chaps they cant be employed when Ug attains the middle income status naturally they will no be able to compete if they don’t change and embrace civilization.
    5.M7 cant be equated to a war lord how many bodies have you seen littered on the streets?Its Ugandans who provoke the armed personnel to kill them but they ignore them.
    6.Gone are the days when youth revolutions made sense and caused meaningful change; of course the evil resisted by Malcom X and LutherKing (Slavery)Mandela and Oliver Tambo( Apartheid)cant be compared to today’s situation;e,g in Libya,Egypt,Tunisia the youth there thought they were more intelligent than their leaders where are they now?does any of this countries have a president who is less than 55 years of age?

  3. James jones bantu

    How did drake rwabogo his son in law become the CEO of uganda railway and chief handler for tanzania uganda.

  4. @ Dickens:
    1.The people Bobi Wine represents(Ghetto) need counseling services not representation in parliament.
    2.Bobi’s looks has everything to do with the life style in the ghetto you cant take drugs,alcohol,cigarettes and look fresh.( You end with a wide mouth yet it was naturally small)just go to U Tube and listen to John Legend and Ariana Grande sing”Beauty and the Beast”you will appreciate what it means to look good and avoid drugs.
    3.It may be too early to judge Bobi Wine’s competence but when you compare the performance of celebrities who have joined politics like Arnold Schwarzenegger it was poor he was even recalled.
    4.Actually its Ugandans who have wasted M7’s time if we had left him do things on his own without following administrative procedures,we would be far are you aware that the major projects that are on going its b’ coz he made executive orders?
    5.Some of the structures M7 inherited from the Obote Govt needs to be overhauled e.g why do we pay pensioners every month for staying home yet there are youth who want to paid for doing some work? for survival,The govt can allocate pensioners 100k for buying grocery items.If you carried out research on how pensioners use their money especially men,you would be shocked;some have married the unemployed youth using their pension.
    6.Regarding how many years a president needs to rule depends on the nature of the society. A responsible leader like M7 is reflective and mindful of his legacy and the state he will leave his country in thats why he should never be reminded when to leave power.
    7.Ugandans are slow and laid back in nature they don’t need a leader who will rock the boat.
    [email protected] Bantu there is alot of transparency in the way Ugandans get senior jobs and the how tenders are awarded if you are not satisfied you go to court i have never heard that rumor that Odrek is the MD of UR.

  5. James jones bantu

    Go and cross check? It is scary that Ugandans are sleeping on important issues and rather decide to engage in rhetoric and patronage. It seems to me that quite a number of our people still believe that things in uganda being operated by a legit group of people, what our people fail to take account of is the extent of plunder and dity and filthy prapaganda mounted by museveni and his followers. In full glare of the truth, Mr museveni is just blind folding ugandans with a black cloth, making himself this mysterious manin state house. However the mystery is on its way to be de mystified. Museveni’s boot lickers are in fot if.

  6. @Bantu have you been to Gulu Town?It has 1st class hotels,food,trade is booming; forget about the negative image protrayed by the media.Are you aware that despite the war,Gulu is more developed than Kabale,Rukungiri,Mbarara and yet they claim that the current govt neglects the north? This make me believe that every Ugandan can develop regardless of the tribe or region they are from.Secondly why is most of Eastern especially Busoga and Teso region Uganda lagging behind despite having suffered no wars and their close proximity access to Kenya?

  7. James jones bantu

    Iam not sure that Gulu is more developed than mbarara, kabale etc, but what I know is Mbarara is the second biggest economy only to Kampala. And no wonder if Gulu is doing well, quite a number of NGO from Europe and USA went to gulu after the Joseph kony war ended, Gulu was given a special status as a means of recovery and if that was well utilised, thanks to them, in contrast with my own region of Bunyoro we are starving to death.

  8. James jones bantu

    Winnie what did Bobi Wine offend with? You are trying hard to credit Mr museveni and discredit Mr Bobi Wine. I don’t know how old you are but you seem a little behind with progress interms of people’s archivemens. There is no any beauty contest in Uganda parliament, kyadondo decided to vote for bobi and dumped katiti and the NRM man, that alone tells you something is unravelling in uganda and the message was sent and his excellency received it. How many people have you inspired in this world, bobi has done exactly that. But I also want to warn you that if you are fishing for jobs in state house, I want to let you know that state house don’t employ nobs like you. That hunt won’t be successful and rather we shall arrest you for impersonating a lawyer and British citizen and keep you behind bars in LUZIRA Prison.

    • @ Bantu:iIf Bobi Wine has inspired people then the word inspiration means something else.

      What caliber of people has Bobi Wine inspired?are you aware that women are raped at his beach and he has never condemned the act.

      How can someone who earns in pound sterling beg for a job in Ug?one pound is equivalent to 4500/=

  9. Mwenda how can the opposition or civil society go to rural areas and mobilise against removal of the age limit from the constituion when the police has clearly said they won’t allow it. Yet M7 and his officials can go anywhere and promote this idea. You bash M7’s opponents for not doing enough as if you don’t live her. Social media is the only platform where police has no control. M7 will succeed in clinging onto power because of his insatiable appetit for power plus military power and state resources.

    • James jones bantu

      I agree with you that Mr museveni will succeed in removing term limits. Museveni has over the years learned how to be a successful dictator. He took some lessons from sedistic dictators such Gaddafi of Libya who had mastered the game of society manipulation. Gaddafi had suceeded to subjugate the Libyans through giving out handouts to people, this made him look to the provider of Libya. Museveni has done the same to give handouts as a way of capturing uganda’s image and turn it to himself. In other words every one must see uganda through museveni, or you museveni before you see uganda it’s a tragedy to our nations.

  10. Francis Mayanja

    The problem is that the constitution was never translated in the local languages so that the waninchi would understand their rights and responsibilities. Ugandans should learn from the way Christians translated the bible in native languages that is why it’s the dominant religion in uganda. I remember the time when mass was conducted in Latin in Uganda we all went to church but we’re ignorant of what the priest was saying until Rome decided to allow mass to be conducted in the local languages
    If you do not believe it please show us your version of the events that have lasted.

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