The Secretary General of Uganda diaspora P10 and former chairman Masindi district, Steven Kazimura Birija, has asked Ugandan opposition to stop being disorganised, disparate and adopt “a common narrative” to deliver to the people in opposing constitutional amendment.
Birija resigned his post as Masindi District chairman in 2009 citing political persecution, prevailing corruption in the government and marginalisation of Bunyoro.
Birija who is now part of the Power 10 opposition pressure group in diaspora calls upon the elite in his new dossier to wake up, organise intelligent networks and promote a legitimate cause for little knowledge is poisonous.
“We are now focusing on article 102B, forgetting article 26; like we forgot article 244 and concentrated on 105 in 2005. Let us not read these articles, entirely in isolation. We are making a grave mistake.”
For example, he says, reading the 1995 Constitution carefully, one will find that most written constitutions are entrenched with the interests of the regime and the makers of the constitution at that time.
“Typically, the 1995 Constitution, in my view was largely anti-people and a veiled personal dictatorship or monarchy.”
Article 5 of the 1995 Constitution provides for a republican state of Uganda, writes Birija, explaining that a Republic in English from Res publica-(res-for affairs) and publica (public or people) means nothing but the standing for a deeper cause for justice; agile meritocracy and everybody right to share in the country’s Commonwealth; and have access to all public offices, on merit and without discrimination.
Article 98 threatens the spirit of republicanism-a complete contrast of absolute monarchy, because absolute monarchy promotes, one man’s rule (mono) and (archy-rule or power).
He says the absolute monarch controls is the state and the state his him; he is the head of government; in army and police are his; all the land, minerals and petroleum his or hers. There is no rule of law, but rule of man.
“Citizens have no rights and render all services for the King or the Queen. The residents or the people in the Kingdom are called subjects. Offices are inherited; no elections or interviews for public offices, office-holders are appointed by the monarch.”
Why our President is an Imperial Monarch
According to Birija, article 98 (1) provides that the president of Uganda will be the Head of State, Head of Government and Commander-in-Chief of the UPDF; and Fountain of Honour; which is not but, like it is for all presidents the world over, but what makes it risky is 98(4) and (5).
Article 98(4) provides that, while holding office, the president shall not be liable to proceedings in any court of law.
“This would be good, to protect the president honour, but it becomes of little value, when the term there is a limit to term of office, but this article 105, was amended in 2005; such that even if the president, who never resign, during election abuses the process, you cannot take him/her to court and succeed.”
Article 98 (5) provides the “Civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against a person after ceasing to be President, in respect of anything done or omitted to be done in his or her personal capacity before or during the term of office of that person; and any period of limitation in respect of any such proceedings shall not be taken to run during the person; and any period of limitation in respect of any such proceedings shall not be taken to run during the period while that person was President”.
Article 99 (2) states that, “The President shall execute and maintain and execute this constitution and all laws made under or continued in force by this constitution”.
Implication of having no term limits
Birija notes that the President has unquestionably absolute and unchecked powers like a monarch and is above the law.
“He can, appoint the electoral commission, to manufacture all the results and the majority he wants; imprison his opponents, and nothing will happen; he can appoint the judicial service commission and judges to do what he wants; appoint public service to act as he wishes; bank of Uganda will be abused.”
With no term limits; and age limits, he ensure he remains in office, by even breaking the law, after all he is well protected by article 98(4) &(5), until s/he dies, the opposition activist observes.
He said in 2005, while term limits where being lifted, people never cared about the amendments of Article 244, which came along in the Omnibus Bill; just like they are now ignoring a more dangerous proposed amendment of Article 26.
“Mending article 26 will be extremely dangerous for our country, because, it is the little protection we are still hanging on to tame the wild article 244. It says, article 244 while apply subject to article 26. Article 26 prohibits anybody from being deprived of property-like land, building etc, which compensation and consent.”
He adds: “This government is what is called a rentier economy. An economy that generates income by just earning rent by hiring assets to foreign investors-remember privatisation, demolition of cooperatives, UCB bank, UED etc, were either sold or rent out to share surpluses amongst themselves and “foreign investors”-Sudhir like!”
He said the moment, Ugandans amend, articles 26 and 102B, the country shall have completed the revolution of self-enslavement by mandating a veiled “republican monarchy”. “It is extremely dangerous to amend these articles.”
He suggested a nationwide campaign not only to reject the proposes amendments of articles 26 and 102B; but also push for amendment of articles 98 and 244, to have a law abiding president, while in office.
“A president is supposed to be a person of good character, credible, with sound mind; we give him everything, salary, house, security. Why is it necessary to anticipate that he will break the law? In fact article 98, is in bad faith, as it motivate the president not to protect the law. The president must be predictable, honest, transparent and reliable; acting in good faith all the time.”
He asked opposition to come with a common narrative-especially on the social media, on issues of common interest, to define and aligning social, political and economic interests, to have intelligent, non-partisan, less abusive-through all networks to make our views legitimate; and acceptable or at least respected by all.
“We must reject a referendum on these issues, because contrary to article 4(a0 & (b), of the constitution-to promote public awareness of the constitution-for 22 years now, the NRM government has never promoted constitutional awareness. So the public cannot vote from an informed point of view.”
He said the Members of Parliament have the duty to represent the interests of all their constituents and be at their service. Collectively MPs are said to represent the country as a whole.
“We expect them to use “mature judgement” and “enlightened conscience” in the interest of the country. They should stop hiding behind peoples decision and guide us, envision us wisely first. If they cannot let them resign.”
He added: “Those in opposition to the amendments, let us put informed pressure, but disciplined on this MPs-when they fail, then, we can act otherwise. But, I believe reason and resolute collective action will defeat the process.”