Prime Minister and Leader of Government Business, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda on Tuesday faced a tough time while appearing before the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs over the Constitution Amendment Bill, 2017 dubbed Age limit Bill.
During the committee sitting that was chaired by Robinah Rwakoojo, Gomba West County MP, Dr. Rugunda told the committee that clauses such as age and term limits are discriminatory and that Ugandans should be given their right to elect their political leaders through a free and fair election.
“Let people of Uganda choose their own leaders. Let’s not deny Ugandans that chance. It’s unfair to have limitations on leaders on basis of age. There is a variation in age; some people are able to perform very well at the age of 70, others not and others perform even beyond 70. Ultimately power belongs to the people, so there should not be any matter of restoring term limits,” Dr. Rugunda said.
Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu had put Rugunda to task to explain if he has ever since any candidate contesting before 35 or after 75 before the constitution was promulgated.
“Right honourable Prime Minister, do you know of any person before 1995 who contested for president when he/she was below 35 or above 75?” Katuntu asked.
NRM’s Aston Kajara, Mwenge South County MP asked Rugunda why government doesn’t restore presidential term limit that was scrapped off in 2005.
As if that was not enough, Kampala Central MP Muhammed Nsereko asked Rugunda to explain if the current academic qualification slapped on political leaders is discriminatory.
“This constitution is not for NRM. As head of government business, don’t u think academic qualification is also discriminatory?” he asked.
Kiira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju added saying, “The president is on record saying hee will not stand after 75 and that is why he has now given all duties to the army. The issue of jajas is becoming and continuing to become presidents is unfair… We have statutory preparations for our old leaders to retire and there is even a special package for them,” Ssemujju said while referring to Rugunda, Museveni, Kivenjinja and Moses Ali to retire.
Rugunda however said that the issue of retirement is okay and soon or later it will come to pass.
“We already have statutory bodies where several people retire after every 5 years. And by the way, President Museveni may even decide to say that he is not contesting,” he said.
By press time, the committee was interfacing with leaders of political leaders among them include; Nobert Mao (DP), Ken Lukyamuzi (CP) among others.