A group of National Resistance Movement [NRM] youth has formed a group dubbed: “Organising For Action (OFA)” to denounce what they called “unfair and discriminative” age limit to the presidency.
In a statement, the group said age of one to stand in elective politics should be proportionate to that of a person who is granted access to a ballot or voting rights.
“Actually the first ever law enforcing age of presidency was the “LEX VILLIA ANNALIS”. This was a roman law enacted in 1800 BC. This however only set the minimum age. As young people (majority population) we find the current limitations within article 102 of the constitution of Uganda as unjustified age discrimination.”
The group says it’s unfortunate that most of the young people who as per now make three-quarters of the population are not eligible to run for offices such as the one for the presidency and that of Local Council Five which have age of candidacy set at 35.
In countries like the United States, occasionally people who are younger than the minimum age will run for an office in protest of the requirement, examples include RUSH HOLT IN 1934, he was elected to senate at 29, but could not assume office until his birth day to make 30 years that was six months away, OFA said, adding that this has since been lowered to 21 years in many parts of the United states.
“The British youth council in 2000, successfully campaigned to lower age of candidacy requirements in the United Kingdom. The age for candidacy was reduced from 21 to 18 in England, wales and Scotland. Most of the European countries have the minimum ages set at 18 and 21.”
On the question of having a maximum age limit for politicians to contest in elections, OFA says there shouldn’t be any maximum age limit for elective political positions.
If these politicians get too frail or senile to do the job, it’s easy enough to have the electorate vote them out using the power of the ballot, the statement reads.
“We should not impose age restrictions on who can stand. The idea behind democracy is that you let the voters decide. Democracy means if someone is too old for you, don’t vote them.”
The group says it is wise not to have maximum age limit in counties where people have ultimate power in democracy and its them who decide about who can or cannot serve the nation.
“Politics should be about efficiency and effectiveness not forgetting the power lies within the people. Back to the constitution of Uganda, where all citizens share equal rights, we should therefore not use the same constitution to deprive the certain group off their rights or suffocate them in one way or the other.”
An ideal leader should have a lot of knowledge and vast experience, which incidentally comes handy with age. There is no any other country with such unjustified law, they argued.
In article 102 (b) and 102 (c), there is a slight contradiction in the law, because those below 35 and above 75 can be qualified as members of parliament but cannot stand to be elected as presidents according to article 102 (b).
Same as article 183, that refers to the district chair persons which has age of candidacy set at 35 minimum and 75 maximums. All these articles are unjust and should be quickly amended, OFA suggested.
Article 259 gives the parliament of Uganda powers to amend the constitution by way of addition, variation or repeal to any provision of the constitution and so do articles 260,261 and 262.
“Therefore, there should be no cause for alarm because the framers of the constitution foresaw that there would be need to amend the provisions of the constitution due to the evolving times and thus they catered for this in provisions 259, 260, 261 and 262.”