Fundamental reasons for removal of age limit in our Constitution
Many of the actors or commentators are busy discussing this very crucial topic ...
By Richard Todwong
I have been reading and following opinions of Ugandans through the various media channels about the proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to amend in particular Article 102 (b) of the Ugandan Constitution.
Many of the actors or commentators are busy discussing this very crucial topic with a lot of emotions and biasness. I believe we can logically debate this subject.
The pressure for change always emanates from external and internal contexts and are usually dynamic and volatile with political, economic and social characteristics. I know that change is always an inevitable thing and it will always be natural.
When we changed our political system and adopted a multi-party system, issues of political offices are no longer a matter of an individual but for an organisation. It is extremely wrong for a constitutional amendment to focus on an individual as opposed to a system or process.
The very elementary reasoning of equal rights and opportunities for all would make us know that it was in the first place wrong for the Constitution to put limitations based on age for one to access an office and yet not for voting. It is only logical that since we were opening up the presidential term limits in the Constitution during the previous Constitutional review, we should have as well amended Article 106 (b) to allow political parties the free choice to select and present their candidates for National competitions.
The right to fail or win as a political party should be left to the parties. If by sponsoring a young or old person to contest makes a party lose its seat in office, such a decision should be left to a political party to make. In short, organisations should be left to make choices of failing or winning. That is what I thought democracy would demand.
Change may take many of the following combinations; impose, adaptation, growth and creativity changes. These are crucial and more so for the future stability of a nation state. When we anticipate political change, we ought to be mindful that there are things which must be managed by all actors of change. These include, but not limited to; peace and security, economy, expectations, impatience, arrogances and intolerance.
Why President Museveni?
The reason why the NRM organisation and the many Ugandans still need Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as a president is because of the maturity he has exhibited with state affairs over the years. The uncontrolled "rush" "push" by mainly the dismal voices of decent from the opposition out of uncontrolled emotions can only see Uganda regress. Statehood need not require emotions but ability to neutralise potential risk of anarchy.
The geo-political situation of the Great Lakes region requires a deeper and sober head of state. At the moment, DR Congo seems to be going through a process which might see the country back to war, Burundi is not too stable, Rwanda recently conducted her elections, Kenya is becoming a hot spot, Somalia is not as it should be, South Sudan in crisis and the region is depending on the experienced and elderly leadership of Yoweri Kaguta Museveni whom every conflicting group, including international mediation teams run to. As Ugandans, even if we have our simple in-house disagreements with Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, I believe the need to have a peaceful Great Lakes region can make us amend our Constitution to allow Yoweri Kaguta Museveni conclude these many peace missions he is involved in.
The region will soon have a population of 700 million people almost half of the population of China. It is a big growing market for Uganda, East Africa and the World. Economic co-existence can bring us faster stability than the need to change leadership. All a leader requires is to tag the young educated and energetic population of Uganda to these opportunities. That is what President Museveni is doing through the efforts he is making to have peace in the region.
Uganda has become a home to African refugees and this is because of what these brothers and sisters see happen in Uganda. Our history had divided us internally while externally we were looked at as a country full of petty lines of division (religion, tribes). But at the moment, Uganda is the magnet to the unity of Africa.
Today, Uganda has embraced and accommodated many from the region and they have brought a lot of opportunities to our citizens. This level of stewardship by Y.K. Museveni need to be harnessed and jealously protected. A change from Y.K. Museveni to an alternative should be a change that will not rock the foundation achievements we have scored. I have seen and heard leaders who propose change speak, but unfortunately most of them seem not to have critically appreciated some of these issues.
I believe and know that for every move to change, there are underlying resistances which are only natural and can be expressed differently through covert or overt means. However, leaders at the lower levels should guard against the recklessness that would only make us slide into anarchy.
In the just concluded by-elections in Kibanda North, Kiryadongo district, I witnessed very interesting scenarios. For those who might not be aware, Kiryandongo is a district that has accommodated most of the tribes and religious believe in Uganda and Africa. This people understand better the meanings of peace and stability and what is required of leaders. They reject leaders who work to show how different they are, how they have no rights over critical decisions etc. They always promote leaders who preach unity and coexistence. This same scenario is in the greater Kibaale area, West Nile and many other areas in Uganda including Buganda.
Mankind will always have challenges and issues. All governments have issues and very serious ones, therefore, it is not correct to imagine or assume that it is only Uganda where things seem to be wrong.
Key to all these is the ability of a leader to manage all the challenges while maintaining a balance which is credible and accommodative. Old age comes with a lot of wisdom experience and skills to manage divergent society issues. For instance, Dr Kizza Besigye was not happy to see President Museveni campaigning for Taban Amin in Kiryandongo. He castigated that in his tweet. However, such gestures are the ones that make President Museveni strong and popular in the eyes of many Ugandans. Intolerance of opposition will only make the NRM and Museveni stronger.
The idea that formulate the content of any change entails managing its context and process.
Correct policies for change are not sufficient, organisation capacity for change is necessary both at the conceptual and operational levels.
Change involves the continuous interplay between the content for change, the process of change and the context of change together with the skills to regulate the relations between the dynamics that comes with change process.
I, therefore, see none of the agitators for change as an alternative to President Museveni. NRM Political party with all its strength (in terms of numbers) will not allow the enemies of progress to determine the agenda of change.
The writer is the Deputy Secretary General-NRM
Chairperson, Inter Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD)