• Tue Jun 29 2004
  • Museveni mad with judges over nullyfing 2000 referendum act

Last Sunday President Museveni addressed the nation about last Friday’s Constitutional Court ruling which nullified the referundum on political systems. The court was presided over by Justices: Galdino Okello, Alice Mpagi Bahigeine, George Engwau, Amos Twinomujuni and Christine Kitumba. Click belo
Vision Reporter
Journalist @ New vision
Last Sunday President Museveni addressed the nation about last Friday’s Constitutional Court ruling which nullified the referundum on political systems. The court was presided over by Justices: Galdino Okello, Alice Mpagi Bahigeine, George Engwau, Amos Twinomujuni and Christine Kitumba. Click belo
Last Sunday President Museveni addressed the nation about last Friday’s Constitutional Court ruling which nullified the referundum on political systems. The court was presided over by Justices: Galdino Okello, Alice Mpagi Bahigeine, George Engwau, Amos Twinomujuni and Christine Kitumba. Below is an edited version of the President’s speech

I have been briefed that the constitutional court on the June 25, passed a judgment in relation to the referendum on political systems held in 2000 and the judgment of that court in brief was saying the following:
-The judges were saying they had nullified the law under which the referendum was held.

-That they (judges) had decided that the referendum held in 2000 was unconstitutional and therefore the court nullified it.

-The judges held that therefore there is no political system in Uganda today and that Ugandans are not governed under any political system.

This ruling, I am informed by the Government lawyers has got far reaching consequences for the good governance and the democratisation process of Uganda, if it was to be followed. If we are to go by the ruling of these judges it would run the country into a lot of problems.

A closer look at the implications of this judgment reveals an absurdit. It shows that what these judges are saying is absurd, doesn't make sense, reveals an absurdity so gross as to shock the general moral of common sense.

Abantu aba bulijjo balina okumanya engeri gye tuddukanyamu eggwanga oba okutegeera bino abalamuzi bano bye boogera. (Our people have to know how this country is run or even what these judges are trying to say).

The obvious result of this ruling is that:
-The court has declared that the movement system doesn't exist. I even saw Ssemogerere celebrating about this. It is, however, on the basis of movement political system that parliamentary, presidential and local council elections were held.
Going by the court’s judgment therefore, it means that the presidential, parliamentary, and all councils are null and void and have no binding power.

- All actions taken by the government and other institutions of government are rendered a nullity and therefore of no value or consequence.

Initially the power of the people to choose how they should be governed is reserved or grabbed since the court ruled that the right to change the political system is dead.

So there is no political system in place since 2000 according to these judges, meaning the country is in a state of anarchy, if you were to follow what these judges are saying.

As you all know fellow Ugandans the people of Uganda under the 2000 referendum excised their right to choose a political system. This right is not being given to them by the judges.

(Abalamuzi si be batuwa obuyinza okusalawo kye twagala. Abalamuzi omulimu gwabwe kwe kutaputa ebiri mu konsitityusoni, si kuwandiika konsitityusoni yaabywe oba okuyisa ebiragiro ebyabwe).

So the power of the people to choose how they should be governed first of all belongs to the people themselves. That is what we fought for under the referendum. There are those, like Idi Amin, who tried to take away this power and we chased them. Obote tried to say that we have no power to choose.

Any Ugandan above the age of 18 is the one to choose the political future of this country, so our power to choose how we should be governed doesn't come from the judges. It comes from first of all our intrinsic right as Ugandans then secondly since some people were not convinced, that we had to chase by force, those who had to interfere with this, hence the NRM revolution. And thirdly, it is written in the constitution.

Those are the three cornerstones. Our intrinsic right which had to be re-affirmed by our revolutionary struggle against those foolish people who tried to think that they could usurp that power which is what Obote tried to do in 1966, Amin tried to do it in 1971, Obote tried to do again in1980 and we stopped this by a mass struggle – a revolutionary struggle, and the people's struggles, was written in the constitution by elected delegates.
Although the constitution has got some ambiguities in some parts but anybody can't interprete it to mean that the people have no power to choose their destiny. If the people don't have the power then who are you? Even you the judge don't have the power, you are even less qualified than the people.
The Movement government was under a duty – under article 27 of the constitution to organise a referendum to take place in the fourth year of parliament.

This was done, millions of people participated as voters, election officials and even as election observers. It is therefore totally unacceptable that anyone would attempt to reverse this decision. It is not acceptable.

Abazannyazannya bandizannyidde ku birala naye si kino. The ones who are playing these games, should play them in other areas like they normally do and we ignore. Like for instance a judge who declared recently that telling lies is legal. That there is nothing wrong with telling lies. May be to the one who made a ruling but according to our tribes if you tell a lie against me it is a serious matter, the clan elders will fine you – that is our culture. But a judge or magistrate or something like that recently said, ‘No, telling a lie about somebody is legal.’
Now that one is provocative and bad but you ignore.

But when you say that the people of Uganda have no power to choose their destiny, then you are really getting out of your depth and you have gone into an area, which we cannot accept. That is a no go area for any authority other than the people of Uganda themselves. They are the ones to decide by a vote, a general election or referendum that we go this way or we go that way, so it is not acceptable that anybody should attempt to take that path.

The court derives its authority from the people, that is what one of the articles of the constitution says, I wish I had the constitution here, and which is supposed to administer justice taking into account the norms values and aspirations of the people – that is what the constitution says.

The authority of the court is derived from the people of Uganda and when they are administering justice they should do so taking into account that the norms, values and aspirations of the people of Uganda has now ruled – that the opinion of these millions of people doesn't matter and that the referendum held was invalid.

This is not acceptable, it simply will not work and I would like you the people to know this and simply don't get unduly worried about such irrational decisions.

The court specifically held that there was no political system adopted, there is no political system in place and therefore one can logically conclude that we are in a state of anarchy – that is what they were saying.

That is not what is happening of course but that is what the judges said in broad day light and we have the documents, the declarations all of you know and the world knows that the days of chaos and anarchy stopped when the National Resistance Movement took over power and restored constitutionalism and the rule of law in Uganda.

We restored constitutionalism and the rule of law that is why the judges can even make decisions against the government. There was a time when if you did that in Uganda, here, you would not live to see the following day – if a judge made a decision against the government – that is what happened to Kiwanuka (Benedict).

But under the NRM there is total adherence to the rule of law and constitutionalism that is why when people who don't agree with the Movement, have free run in whatever they are doing.

However, some of them take the people of Uganda for a ride and this is what we can't accept, because some of them think that they can usurp the power of the people – that they can more or less nullify the NRM system with means other than the popular vote, that will not happen. We fought Kony, defeated him, we fought these other groups ADF, FOBA to defend the NRM system, to defend Uganda and to defend the sovereignty of the people. That sovereignty can't be taken away by court maneuvers by Ssemogerere and his group. It will not happen.

It is not worthy that the people of Uganda had a constitutional right if they so wished to petition for a change of political system through article 74. The constitutional court has ruled that this constitutional right of the people to petition for a change of political system is dead. The people of Uganda know that the organs of the Movement passed the opening of political space.

We are planning to come to a final decision on this matter through a referendum by the people of Uganda. Those who don't want to be in the Movement political system would then be allowed to go and find where they are happy. But some people don't believe in unity and we are tired of having a tag-of-war with these people. I proposed at Kyankwanzi and the NEC and the National Conference accepted that those who don't want to be with us should be allowed to go away. (Mubaleke, bali abataagala kubeera naffe bagende. Ngenda kubasaba mu mu kalulu k’ekikungo abataagala kubeera naffe bagende kubanga batukoseza bubi, batutawanya, boonoona obudde bwaffe).

So plans are underway to effect this through the appropriate constitutional provisions, now the Constitutional court has ruled that this article is dead, the article isn't dead. The people of Uganda are not dead, we are all here the Movement system is not dead – the court is trying to say that we can't hold a referendum on the change of the political system, how did the article die?

An article of the constitution of Uganda can only be changed by two thirds; in fact article 74 can't be changed by Parliament alone, it will have to be in a referendum. No article of the constitution of Uganda can be changed without two thirds of the parliament and now some judges say that an article of the constitution just died, it evaporated, this is absurd and it is not acceptable. In effect what this means, is that this court has usurped the power of the people by declaring article 74 dead.
This court has also usurped the power of parliament, to amend the constitution. Government will not allow any institution even the court to usurp the power of the constitution in any way.

I am repeating that the government, including the national executive will not allow any institution including the court to usurp the power of the constitution in any way.
The government lawyers are studying the ruling and will take necessary legal re-dress.

Meanwhile, the Movement shall ensure that harmony and coherence in the government is maintained. I just want to let all of you know – because when you hear about endless maneuvers going on in Kampala if you are up-country you may get worried and you may think that something very serious is going on – but I can assure you citizens there is no problem, the courts are making mistakes but these mistakes will be sorted out both legally and politically.

They will also be settled through constitutional amendments and legislatively – that is why it is very important to conclude the constitutional review process. But those who want to make trouble can, as long as you have not started something claiming to interprete the constitution – they can just introduce their own prejudices and that is what we should stop in the constitutional review process. We are going to propose a number of amendments to the parliament. And some of them through a referendum, to ensure that the governing of the country is clear. Everybody's lubimbi is clear. Nobody goes from his lubimbi into another person's lubimbi.

It is clear, legislative power belongs to Parliament, executive power belongs to the President, and judicial power belongs to the courts. But when you get a court trying to legislate – now trying to make law or to write a constitution – then if you don't correct that you get into problems or if you get the legislature trying to be the executive, to run the government or as you have in some countries the executive running the country by decrees then that is out of order.

Therefore, in the constitutional reform we are going to sort out these issues, if there is anything that is is not clear it is going to be clear. I count on the support of the Parliament and the population, we shall bring you some issues in a referendum to decide on so that the authority of the people is firmly anchored and made clear.

Once the people have spoken like they did in the referendum, nobody on earth should question that except God – that will be the only next authority but here on earth. Once the people of Uganda have spoken through the referendum, except on a few issues of human rights which we can exempt. Like the people of my village in Rwakitura cannot hold a referendum and say that my wife Janet is not my wife that is out side the question.

There are a few cases where you cannot hold a referendum, especially issues of human rights and other few matters but issues of political rights there is no way the people can decide in a referendum and any authority challenges it.

We are going to make that clear in the constitutional reform, which we are going to carry out. These are the Ssempeebwa proposals, which are now with cabinet – soon we will produce a white paper which will go to Parliament. And some of the issues will be referred to the referendum for the people to decide on.

I was looking at this article of the administration of justice article 126(1) – judicial power is derived from the people and shall be exercised by the courts established under this constitution in the name of the people and in conformity with law norms and values and aspirations of the people. Norms and aspirations of the people, in conformity with – not in contradictions to and the people vote in a referendum. That is not an aspiration. It is a decision.

It is a decision and now we have decided and you the courts who should be working on behalf of the people, you nullify what the people have decided, that is not acceptable. So my countrymen and women, I don't know why we say countrymen and women and we forget the youth, I think we should change our formulation and say countrymen countywomen and children because I think children must be interested, I want you to be rest assured.

We have been alerted repeatedly by people who don't respect the authority of the population of Uganda.

There are certain groups who don't believe that the population matters and I can assure you citizens we are going to tie all these loose ends and ensure that it is never repeated again. Contradictory positions where this one is saying this and the other one the other should not be allowed to happen.

We have tried the 1995 constitution for the last eight years, almost nine years now, we know there are loopholes where there are gaps and we are going to close these gaps so that these contradictions by state organs ends. It will be done legally.

Our lawyers are studying how to do it legally, it will be done legislatively within the constitution and we will be working with parliament and in some cases with the whole population so that everybody knows his lubimbi. Omulamuzi alamule ng’ebiragiro ebya muwebwa Palamenti. Nga bwe bigamba so si ye okuteekawo ebiragiro ebibye.

Eggwanga liddukannyizibwe nga konsityusoni bw’egamba so si omuntu okuwandiika, k’abe mulamuzi oba ani, okuwandiika by’ayagala – so that it is clear who is supposed to do what.

I thank you very much.

President Yoweri Museveni