National Resistance Movement (NRM) Members of Parliament pushing for the removal of the presidential age limit could be staring at problems in proportions much bigger than they anticipated from their colleagues on the other side of the isle.
These problems are incidentally rising from within; from NRM MPs opposed to the amendment of Article 102(b) of the constitution.
These Rebel MPs are now incontrovertibly a thick thorn in the flesh of the amendment bill proponents.
Their numbers too, though still unlikely to torpedo Hon Raphael Magezi’s bill, seem to be swelling by the day.
With this in mind, the rebel MPs have come up with a plan that is hoped to minimize Speaker Rebecca Kadaga’s choices.
They are bombarding the speaker’s office with a barrage of bill proposals which like Hon Magezi’s are aimed at amending parts of the constitution.
Although some of their bills might seem absurd to some people, the defiant NRM MPs are confident speaker Kadaga will find hard time throwing all their bills out to allow only that of Hon Magezi.
Last week, the MPs filed different notices of motion to the speaker’s office.
One by Hon Sam Lyomoki (workers) provides arrangements for the retirement of President Yoweri Museveni from office.
Another one by Hon John Baptist Nambeshe (Bududa) proposes mandatory retirement of any Member of Parliament from their seat, immediately after being appointed to cabinet.
The other one came in from Hon Gaffa Mbwatekamwa (Kasambya) which proposes removal of all education requirements for elective positions from the constitution.
Hon Mbwatekamwa told us on the weekend, “Those people (supporters of the age limit removal) say that Article 102 (b) segregates against older and younger Ugandans who want to run for office.
“For us we are saying that there are many other articles which are discriminating. They too should be addressed if it’s about amending article by article.”
Hon Mbwatekamwa says they are banking on the fact that Speaker Rebecca Kadaga is sternly opposed to amending the constitution by piecemeal.
In September last year, Kadaga threw out a proposed bill by Nakifuma MP Kafeero Sekotileko which among others sought to change the retirement ages for judicial officers.
She advised that amending the constitution should be holistic
Holistic is what the rebel NRM MPs want. They are pushing for the constitutional amendment to be handled through a Constitutional Review Commission.
But this idea is unpopular to the rest of the NRM MPs, and it’s still not very clear why.
Last week on Wednesday, the NRM caucus sitting at Parliament voted on whether or not to bring in the Constitutional Review Commission and according to Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa, only four people supported it.
Hon Mbwatekamwa says the Whip lied.
“There is several of us in NRM who want the Commission to handle the amendment; we are about 60 now. Many of us stormed out of the meeting. The problem is that most of MPs on our team want to say behind the curtains,” he said.
“Clearly they are scared of us. Otherwise, why are they bringing in the armed forces?” the MP added.
This week, the Speaker of Parliament is expected to reveal how the motion to table the bills will be handled.