Kabula county Member of Parliament, James Kakooza, has challenged government to table the age limit bill as soon as possible so the presidential age limit clause can be scrapped to allow President Yoweri Museveni stand in 2021 elections.
“The more the debate is postponed, the more it affects Museveni’s preparation for 2021 elections,” he argued, expressing the urgency of the matter.
Kakooza made the appeal on Friday while addressing press at parliament where he called on the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, to allow legislators debate the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2017 “freely”.
“No one has a right to stop the public debate on age limit,” Kakooza said in a calculated shot aimed at Kadaga who early in the week barred MPs from discussing a bill that has not yet been tabled.
Kadaga cited death threats sent to MPs but Kakooza insists the public has the right to discuss matters concerning the constitution of the country.
“If the public wants to debate it and it is in the constitution, that is their right. You should let them,” Kakooza appealed to Kadaga.
He claimed intelligence on a group of youth who have been mobilised to send threatening messages to MPs, saying although they are doing it for money, they should use the right channels.
Kakooza who was among the MPs that moved the 7th Parliament to lift the presidential term limit from the constitution in 2005, recently said President Museveni should be left to rule until he dies.
He now says while it is important to allow anyone above 18 years to stand for an elective position, there are still people above 75 years who can should be allowed a chance at the presidency.
When asked whether he is being paid to champion the bill, Kakooza claimed he doesn’t expect to receive any money from anyone. “Why? I don’t expect any money”.
Goes to court?
The legislator reportedly teamed up with a youth identified as Daniel Abala and petitioned Constitutional Court challenging Constitutionality of Article 102 (b) of the constitution which caps the presidential age limit at 75.
The article states that a person is not qualified for election as president of Uganda if he or she is less than thirty-five years and or more than seventy-five years of age.
Museveni, who turns 73 later this year, will be 76 years by 2021 but Kakooza argues that if the law allows voters aged 75 years and above to vote, it should allow Museveni also to be voted.
Government playing ping-pong
Government on Thursday tabled the Constitutional Amendments Bill 2017 before parliament for the first reading amidst protests from a section of legislators.
The Deputy Attorney General, Mwesigye Rukutana tabled the Constitutional Amendments Bill 2017 tactfully skipped the age limit clause prompting Shadow Attorney General, Wilfred Niwagaba, to rise on a point of procedure and inquiring whether it was in order for the Minister to table a bill, which seeks to amend the constitution in piece meal.
In her response, the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, asked the members to allow the Attorney General to table bill and see what to do with it.
In his defence, Rukutana said it is against the rules of parliament for a member of parliament to pre-empt any matter before the house.
He however, asked the speaker to allow him read the object of the speaker to avoid speculation.
Who is Kakooza?
James Kakooza is a Ugandan accountant and politician. He has served as State Minister for Health (Primary Care) in Uganda since 2009.
He is also the Member of Parliament representing Kabula County, Lyantonde District, in the Ugandan Parliament. He has served in that position since 2001.
He was born on 18 February 1962, in Lyantonde District. He holds the degree of Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from Nkumba University.
He also holds the Diploma in Clearing & Forwarding, as well as the Certificate in Customs Basics & Tax Administration awarded by the Uganda Revenue Authority. He has certification recognizing him as a Certified Public Accountant in Kenya.
His varied career has seen James Kakooza work in several different private and public positions, over the course of the last twenty years. Between 1989 and 1990, he worked as an Accounts Officer at Karibu Forex Bureau, one of the more than 100 Foreign Exchange Bureaus in Kampala.
Between 1991 and 1992, he worked as a Banking Officer in Sembule Bank, the precursor of present-day Bank of Africa. He left the bank and worked as a Clearing and Forwarding Agent from 1992 until 2001.
Between 1994 until 2001, he served as the Business Director for Kabale Distributors Limited, a Ugandan Import/Export company. He has also served as a Director of the Uganda Importers and Exporters Traders Association, an industry association.
In 2001, he entered politics and was elected to the Ugandan Parliament to represent Kabula County, Lyantonde District.
He was re-elected to the same position in 2006. He was appointed State Minister for Health (Primary Care) on 16 February 2009.
James Kakooza is a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises.
He is married. He belongs to the National Resistance Movement political party.