MPs in move to clip Museveni, Buhari, Mugabe powers

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Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Winnie Kiiza, launching the campaign in Masaka

Lawmakers in Zimbabwe, Uganda and Nigeria are currently embroiled in a struggle to reduce the powers of their respective presidents as well as prevent the abrogation of their countries’ constitutions.

In Uganda, opposition MPs led by the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Winnie Kiiza, launched the campaign against the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2017, in Masaka district last week.

The legislators will move across the country preaching to the public and raising awareness as regards the bill that will see government seize their lands.

The Bill intends to amend Article 26 of the Constitution in accordance with Articles 259 and 262. Article 26 of the Constitution provides for the right of persons to own property and how it can be acquired by government.

Kiiza says Bill intends to take away the only valuable resource owned by Ugandans. “The Constitutional Amendment Bill 2017 is illegal. It intends to give the government power to hold the only resource that Ugandans have.”

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In the same vigour, other MPs are also opposed to the scrapping of the presidential age limit clause as proposed in the same bill to allow Museveni stand in 2021 elections.

The crusade has already divided both opposition and ruling NRM party members as well as government officials.

Zimbabwe politicians join in

On Thursday, three Zimbabwean legislators joined Uganda opposition-led campaign rallies at Nakulabye in Lubaga division and Katwe in Makindye division.

The Observer reports that the lawmakers are from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC-T).

“When I look at all of you here, I see fellow Africans, and if I mingled with you, it will be difficult for anyone to tell that I am a Zimbabwean. We as Africans have one problem; leaders that don’t want to leave power,” Abednico Bhebhe, the leader of opposition in the Zimbabwean parliament, is quoted by Observer as saying at Nakulabye market.

His colleagues Brian Tshuma, the MP for Wanga and Prince Dubeko Sibanda, the Babinga MP accused President Robert Mugabe, 93, of reneging on the promises he made during the struggle.

“When we were fighting [for independence], he used to tell us that we were fighting for a government of the people, by the people and for the people. When he got to power, he changed and now wants to rule for life,” Bhebhe said.

Bhebhe said Ugandans risk having a life president if they make a mistake and lift the age limit…”because already you made a mistake when you allowed the [two] term limits to be removed, you will face the same problem we are facing in Zimbabwe.”

The lawmakers are said to have come to Uganda as part of the visiting Zimbabwean parliament’s Finance committee currently benchmarking the workings of the Finance, Planning and Economic Development committee of the Parliament of Uganda.

The MPs will join the opposition caucus under the Parliamentary Forum for Constitutional and Human Rights in Kira municipality in Wakiso district today, Friday for more rallies.

Nigeria law makers plan to clip presidency powers

Nigeria’s lower house of parliament voted on Thursday in favour of constitutional amendments to reduce the presidency’s powers, the latest step in a power struggle between President Muhammadu Buhari and the national legislature.

The Senate, parliament’s upper house, led the way on Wednesday in backing constitutional changes that could weaken the presidency and boost the legislature, prompting a senior official in Buhari’s government to speak of “a very unhealthy” power grab.

Senate head Bukola Saraki, who has been tipped as a possible successor to the ailing Buhari and who is pushing the changes, said on Wednesday they would help boost Nigeria’s political, economic and social development.

Though the House of Representatives broadly accepted the major proposed amendments, it rejected some that had been passed by the Senate.

The two chambers will now form committees to meet and agree on a final version of the proposals before sending them to state assemblies.

The amendments must still be approved by two-thirds of those 36 regional state parliaments and then be signed off by the president.

The measures include providing certain legal immunity to members of the legislature and reducing the president’s ability to withhold assent for a bill passed by parliament.

The parliament also voted to impose time limits on key presidential decisions such as nominating ministers and proposing federal budgets, both of which have been much-delayed under Buhari.

Buhari, 74, is currently in Britain where he has spent much of the year receiving treatment for an undisclosed medical problem.

Sources: The Observer/ Voice of America

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