Kabwegyere Defends Age Limit Removal Top story

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In short
This afternoon, Prof Tarsis Kabwegyere appeared before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee chaired by West Budama South MP, Jacob Oboth-Oboth. He maintained his position on the presidential age limits, saying that someones capacity cannot be limited by fixing age.

Prof Tarsis Kabwegyere, a former constituent assembly delegate has criticised the presence of the Article 102(b) of the Constitution. Article 102(b) restricts the president's age to between 35 and 75 years. During the constituent assembly, Kabwegyere, who represented Igara West County in the Constituent Assembly, opposed the provision citing improvements in life expectancy.

"And, we are talking therefore, of a future where Uganda may have citizens who will be very competent still able in the eyes of the population to lead them even when they are over 75 years of age. Let us put the lower limit other than the upper limit." 

Kabwegyere said during the CA debate. He urged the delegates not to look at seniority as if it was a pure characteristic of chronological age, saying that there are people who may live longer and be able to live at 80 or 85 without becoming senile.

"Therefore, I would rather in terms of anticipatory recommendation, that we lower the limit of qualification and leave the upper limit open to the population who may judge who is senile or not." he said. Kabwegyere's statements came after the late Noble Mayombo, one of the National Resistant Army-NRA CA delegates propose the introduction of the presidential age limit.

Mayombo proposed that for one to stand for president, they must been between 30 years of age and not more than 75 years. However, the proposal was later amendment to restrict the presidential age limit to between 35 and 75 years of age.

This afternoon, Prof Tarsis Kabwegyere appeared before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee chaired by West Budama South MP, Jacob Oboth-Oboth. He maintained his position on the presidential age limits, saying that someone's capacity cannot be limited by fixing age.

He said leadership cannot be limited by a chronological age since ones biological capacity is determined by genetics.

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He blamed those opposed to the proposed lifting of the presidential limit for focusing on the person of President Yoweri Museveni, saying that the question of defining power structures goes beyond individuals.

Those opposed to the proposal have severally accused the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party of pushing the amendment to allow president, Yoweri Museveni to extend his stay in power.

The Constitutional (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2017 tabled by the Igara West MP, Raphael Magyezi seeks among others to amend Article 102 (b) of the constitution by removing the both the lower and upper age limit cap on persons intending to contest for the presidency. 

Once approved, the bill will pave way for President Yoweri Museveni to seek another term of office when his current term ends.  But Kabwegyere, a former Minister in charge of General Duties told the committee that social process and political structure development should not be reduced to individuals. 

He describes the debate around Museveni as misplaced concreteness.
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However, the Lwemiyaga County MP, Theodore Ssekikubo and Kumi Woman MP Monica Amoding couldn't have any of this. They argued that debate on the age limit cannot steer away from President Museveni who was the sole beneficiary of the removal of term limits in 2005, where Kabwegyere participated actively.
The Committee Chairperson, Jacob Oboth-Oboth asked Kabwegyere whether there can be a tradeoff to have the age limits removed and then reinstate term limits in order to have a neutral ground. In his response,
Kabwegyere said if they are to talk about term limits, it should be for all saying Members of Parliament should also have term limits as well. 
"When you say term limits were removed to favor Museveni, then it becomes the personalization thing we are talking about." he added. He accused MPs of being jealousy, adding that individualization of the whole process of government misrepresents the act. 

"There is no way you can be President alone and lead this country for life. So anybody who thinks Uganda is Museveni is mistaken. He doesn't attend parliament here, but he signs bill, but he influences parliament. If he can lead a country for many years, you can't be jealousy of him. If you don't have capacity to copy his tricks, then don't hate him." said Kabwegyere.


About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.