By Josepha Jabo
THE aggressive manner in which Buyaga West County MP and Chairman of Parliament’s Presidential Affairs Committee, Barnabas Tinkasiimire confronted President Museveni on the first day of the NRM Party Retreat at Kyankwanzi over term limits was uncalled for.
“Who is this person who doesn’t get tired?” the MP asked wondering how Museveni (who in 2016 would have spent 30 years in power) is not yet exhausted. This question, posed in Tinkasiimire’s typical confrontational style, was similar to the way he interrogated State Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Musa Ecweru, last year, over relief items when he insinuated the minister was a thief.
Tinkasiimire, and others who think like him, are obsessed with time but they are forgetting that in 1986 Museveni inherited a failed state, whose transformation he is superintending into an industrialized one.
This cannot happen overnight. If Tinkasiimire, and his friends, are not persuaded by the president’s vision then they should go and convince the electorate otherwise. But why should Museveni be ejected from office? Museveni is still energetic and the country continues to enjoy peace and stability under his rule. Above all, 68.4% of Uganda’s electorate voted for him in the nationwide 2011 Presidential Elections.
Since Museveni is not contravening any laws by his continued stay in power; he should be allowed to see his vision come to fruition. For example, Lee Kuan Yew was Singapore’s Prime Minister for 31 years and he oversaw the transformation of his nation from a developing country into an Asian Tiger.
If Tinkasiimire has taken it upon himself to transform the NRM party from within, is publically challenging the president when TV cameras are rolling the best way to go about it? Since they were at the retreat the MP could have raised the same question in private, unless Tinkasiimire’s intention was to be captured on film and being quoted in the newspapers.
Elders need to be shown respect. If President Museveni’s longevity is an enigma to Tinkasiimire then he should stand in awe of the man. If Tinkasiimire wants term limits to be restored and the succession debate to be revived then he should wait for the appropriate forum if and when the NRM chooses to discuss these matters.
After all, Museveni is not like Idi Amin who declared himself, ‘President for Life’ in 1975!
The Americans have a saying,‘If it ain't broke, don't fix it.’ This saying can be applied to the lifting of term limits from the Office of the President. The 2005 amendment of the 1995 Constitution was carried out legally through a parliamentary process.
Uganda is not the only country without political term limits. In the UK, there are no term-limits for their prime ministers who are allowed to be re-elected into office for unlimited terms. The same applies to Germany’s Chancellors.
It is not Tinkasiimire’s place to determine when the president is ‘tired’ or should ‘retire.’ Authority comes from God (Romans 13:1) and this authority must be revered, for the sake of peace and stability.
Similarly, Museveni reminded the MPs recently that they have a contract with God, which should not be misused through cheap politicking. The same electoral process, operating under a democratic multi-party system, which elected Tinkasiimire as Member of Parliament of Buyaga County is the same electoral process that has kept the president in office to date.
Just as this ‘Honourable’ MP of Buyaga county expects to be given honour when he visits his constituents how much more should he show the same respect to the ‘Fountain of Honour.’
Tinkasiimire should forget about term limits and focus his energy on service delivery, fighting corruption and job creation.
The Writer works with Uganda Media Centre