In the midst of the controversy surrounding the age limit constitutional amendment, Deputy Government Spokesperson Col (Rtd) Shaban Bantariza has jumped in the fray, accusing the Archbishop of Kampala Cyprian Kizito Lwanga of trying to propagate divisionism in the Church.
Col Bantariza on Tuesday accused Bishop Lwanga of overstepping his freedom of speech to import divisions into the church with his views on the age limit bill, which President Museveni just signed into an Act of Parliament.
Bishop Lwanga yesterday sternly countered President Yoweri Museveni, who on the New Year’s Eve had slammed church leaders for taking political stances rather than preaching messages of development, unity and the integration of East African and African Integration.
The President, apparently angered by the clergy’s negative comments on the age limit amendment, daubed them as arrogant and likened some of them to the biblical Caiaphas.
Bishop Lwanga a day later hit back at the President, reminding him that church leaders like every other Ugandan, have a right to comment on the country’s affairs.
The man of God in his New Year sermon at Lubaga Cathedral on Monday, stated that clerics have a right and duty to educate people and give direction on social questions, which is provided for under Article 29 of the constitution
He added that building Uganda is not a responsibility of only a few, but everybody, before reminding Museveni that under his Ten Point Program he had promised among others to restore democracy.
Col Bantariza however, on Tuesday took aim at Bishop Lwanga, saying that his right to speech doesn’t entitle him to take political positions, in a country that is politically pluralist and hence partisan.
“In the Church,” observed Col Bantariza, “we are all sorts of people, united by Faith and practice of our Faith! Anything, be it Word, Action, or Position, from any our religious leader, that in anyway affects that Unity, is certainly Unconstructive in our Faith and Practice, and endangers our Reverence and honour to such a religious leader.”
The former UPDF spokesmen demonstrated how all Ugandans are free to marry a person of their liking, yet Catholic Nuns and Sisters are barred by religion.
“My Arch Bishop may need to know that politics, in a democracy, by its very nature, it’s divisive, and when a religious leader takes positional stances, at the Pulpit, he imports the political divisions of politics into the church, and I am not sure that’s what the people of the same Faith and Practice go to church to look for.”
He added, “Constitutional “permission” of rights therefore, can only be appealed to, in concert with our other obligations that impose, or demand that we be very Cautious in the exercise of those rights, so that we don’t inadvertently endanger our Primary duties and obligations, for our real or perceived rights that the constitution doesn’t disallow.