The Chairperson of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Women’s League Hon Lydia Wanyoto, at the risk of running afoul with her colleagues and bosses, warned Saturday that the ruling party is “taking a wrong approach” to the constitutional amendment geared at removing the Presidential Age Limit.
Sounding rather calculative and straining to “look for the right words,” Mrs Wanyoto cautioned that the frontline approach that the NRM MPs have chosen to budge the amendment though would leave the country more wounded than serene.
On Tuesday, NRM MPs sitting at Parliament resolved to present a bill on the floor of parliament to amend Article 102 of the Constitution, ridding the presidential age limit of 75 years.
The proposal has so far been endorsed by cabinet and if all goes as planned; the Private Members’ Bill will be tabled on the floor on Thursday September 21st by Hon Raphael Magezi.
The NRM Women’s’ League head is confident that the bill will ease through parliament because the party has the numbers. But this, she fears will not only deny Ugandans choice in such an important matter, but will also bring costly friction from opponents of the bill.
“We have 303 MPs as NRM and we have 52 (independents) leaning to NRM,” she said. “The UPC will also vote for us; I can take to the bank.”
“The NRM party is one that wins; and its chairman, President Museveni is popular today and will be tomorrow; but this issue is not about who is popular. It is not about winners and losers. There must be a win-win for all Ugandans.”
Wanyoto believes there is a more amiable approach to such a contentious amendment — one that will leave both ends of the isle contended –; The Constitutional Review Commission.
Although Parliament is legally able to amend this particular article of the constitution, the better approach Wanyoto believes for a Constitutional Review Commission to go around the country to consult with the people first.
The commission, she says, would ensure inclusiveness by letting more Ugandans participate and decide; clarity through sensitization of the masses and more crucially concession and harmony.
Working towards things that divide the country, she warned, is not good for a young democracy like Uganda.
“I believe in group politics, multipartism and consultative processes,” Wanyoto who is also the deputy African Union Special Representative for Somalia told the Capital Gang talk show on Saturday morning.
“I have been pleading with my colleagues and asking them not to take this campaign to vote; to make it about winners and losers; and nobody seems to be listening. We want every Ugandan to win in this debate. Do not narrow issues of amending the constitution to the 300 of you.”
She added, “The people of Uganda should have a say on the amendment, but after they have been sensitized. That way, even those who are likely to lose (opposition) will accept and it will be win-win for everyone.”
“Losers will take it in good faith and the winners will celebrate with humility.”
But Wanyoto, who replaced Jacqueline Mbabazi as the head of the NRM Women’s League, currently seems almost a lone voice.
Nearly all NRM MPs in parliament have already signed in support of the amendment to be tabled in parliament.
Opponents of the Bill who include just a handful of NRM MPs are already sounding war drums.
They warn that they will physically obstruct the bill from being tabled.
One of the Bill architects, Minister Evelyn Anite on Thursday claimed support from the national army, the UPDF.