The inherent absurdity of the age limit clause is that it allows an 18-year-old not only to be a Member of Parliament, but also join the Cabinet while forbidding him or her to chair the district council!
Joshua K. Muvumba
The age limit controversy has explosively exposed the political immaturity of some Ugandans and dramatically laid bare their lack of understanding of democracy. Over this simple debate, a combination of emotional ignorance and primitive narrow mindedness has inexorably ended in barbarism.
The reason why contemporary self-appointed issue-solvers always miss their mark is because they do not spend enough time trying to understand the origin or the evolution of those issues. For example, one age limit diehard was totally shocked to learn that at the time of Constitution making in 1996, his beloved age limit clause was so trivial that it might have been smuggled into the Constitution.
Few age limit fanatics bother to find out how and why that clause was adopted and who are obsessed with the life presidency phobia appears to have never heard of William Pitt the younger, Napoleon Bonaparte or Alexander; men who changed the world in their 20s.
Because of what Obote did to Uganda's Constitution in 1967, many Ugandans today instantly become paranoid when they hear the word ‘amendment'. Apparently they do not distinguish Obote's constitutional abrogation from constitution amendment. They do not know that while the synonyms of the world ‘abrogate' include words such as abolish, annul, invalidate and quash etc, those of the word ‘amend' are made of such words as modify, adjust, ameliorate, notify and fix.
You cannot amend unconstitutionally, but abrogation is an unconstitutional action. Because the constitution itself shows us how it is to be amended, we can say that it actually amends itself, of course, it does not show us how it could be abrogated, that is why we leave that unpleasant burden to some self-appointed villains.
In preindustrial societies such as Uganda, there is a general blending of politics and religion. Consequently, our age limit zealots have narrow-mindedly turned the Constitution into an ‘untouchable' idol. Indeed, they have mutated the words of the comma oath "…will defend" into a religious creed if not a dogma. In fact, these fanatics and their gullible followers have become menace to democracy itself.
Indeed, the age limit ‘catechists' have ended up creating an environment of extreme intolerance and bigotry to the point of rioting, fighting and destroying property in the sacred house of Parliament; the supreme shrine and citadel of democracy. All this in an attempt to unconstitutionally suppress and muzzle a legal and legitimate proposal to amend the Constitution by repealing the clumsy age limit clause. Here, they are employing double standards; on the one hand they have allowed the Constitution on the other they have desecrated the House.
The fact that this age limit clause has led to so much misunderstanding among Ugandans means that our Constitution makers of the 20th century were not farsighted enough to avoid the costly exercise of indulging in the whimsical games of age and term limits. They chose to allocate to themselves the divine powers of actually knowing the exact age when dementia comes. They do not seem to have consulted any scientists or heard about such septuagenarian leaders as Hindenburg or Churchill. When they tangle with age and term limits, Constitution makers intrude in and actually interrupt the free flow of the democratic process, which allows the people to decide everything. It really becomes an invasion of the people's rights when they audaciously say "you cannot vote for such a person because we know they senile or they are too tired after completing two exhausting terms.
The inherent absurdity of the age limit clause is that it allows an 18-year-old not only to be a Member of Parliament, but also join the Cabinet while forbidding him or her to chair the district council! The same clause, technically does not allow a 75-year-old to run for presidency, but it allows a 74-year-old to run for that office and stay in it until he or she is 79!
It is about that Ugandans (like their American counterparts who admitted the stupidity of their 18th and repealed it) accepted that their age limit clause is nothing, but grotesque and should be repealed forthwith. Just imagine if that odious clause had not been thoughtlessly and carelessly inserted in our Constitution, we would all today be basking and wallowing in peace and harmony. Nobody would need to don the bloody red raiment's to intimidate a neighbour or create another cleavage, over which to conflict?
Needless to say, the age limit hullabaloo in Uganda and the electoral pandemonium in Kenya coming simultaneously, are stark reminders to the progressive leaders of the two countries that they have lingered too long in forming the long-awaited East African political union. This lingering has given self-seekers, legalists, debaters or donor-funding supplicators a field day and valuable time has been wasted. East Africans should know that if their political union does not materialise now, when the three KKKs (Kagame, Kaguta and Kenyatta) are concurrently holding office, it will never appear.
In conclusion, let us remember what in Shakespeare Brutus told Cassius: "there is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea, are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures."