As the debate on the presidential age limit continues in the public domain, some religious leaders have voiced their opposition any designs to amend Article 102(b) of the constitution.
And now religious leaders have weighed in on the issue with many saying amending Article 102(b) could turn Uganda into a dictatorship while others argue that the matter should be decided through a referendum.
Among those opposed to amending the constitution include Bishop Reuben Kisembo of Ruwenzori Diocese, a Church of Uganda episcopal territory that covers the districts of Kabarole, Bundibugyo, Ntoroko, Kyenjojo and Kyegegwa.
Bishop Kisembo says that if the constitution is amended, Members of Parliament will have done a disservice to the people of Uganda.
Bishop Kisembo also says that the Uganda has able people who can lead the country and should be given an opportunity.
“Why should a single leader rule this country for three decades? There are many people out there who can also be presidents. My prayer is that our beloved constitution should be respected,” Kisembo said.
Last week, while speaking at Fort Portal Diocese headquarters in Virika, the Bishop Fort Portal Catholic Diocese, Dr Robert Muhirwa, expressed the same views.
Bishop Muhirwa warned legislators against amending the Constitution, noting that such a move would breed dictatorship in the country.
Muhirwa also reminded the MPs that they swore an oath to protect the Constitution, therefore it should be respected or else it could plunge the country into turmoil leading to death of innocent people.
Sheikh Habibu Mande, the Rwenzori Region Khadi, however, sounded cagey when URN sought his comment. He said that there is nothing wrong with amending the Constitution as long as it benefits the country.
On whether the presidential age limit should be lifted, Mande says that he will first seek permission from the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council before speaking to the media on the issue.
Rt. Rev. Giuseppe Filippi of Kotido Diocese says the matter requires a referendum, arguing that every country has a right to determine how it should be governed including changing the Constitution.
“Uganda needs a referendum on this matter to get a clear view of the people. However, in some countries like Brazil and Venezuela where minority selfish people tempered with the Constitution, people reacted in a bad way,” Bishop Filippi noted.
His counterpart from Moroto Catholic Diocese, Bishop Damiano Guzzetti, highlights what he calls a lot of efforts for transformation in the last 30 years.
“I came to Uganda in August the same year President Museveni took over power. I have seen so many government initiatives targeting community transformation but somehow not successful due to poor implementation. I can have a brand new car and hire a driver but it depends on the skills of the driver to deliver me to my destiny,” Bishop Damiano said.
However, Bishop James Nasak of Northern Karamoja Diocese voiced his opposition to any moves to amend the constitution saying it sets a dangerous precedent for the country.
The cleric notes that much as President Museveni could be a tolerant leader, rules must be observed by all parties for democracy to thrive. He adds that amending the constitution often is not solution for the country.
“You serve for 20 years, 30 years, 40 years because there is no limit. Another regime will come with different in different times, with authority and also begin to suppress people but we’ll have to live with it because there is no term limit and there is no age limit. I mean, we must limit ourselves that is why rules are there. Even in football, there are rules of the game so that there is control. I mean if the church is regulating its own leadership why not in politics?”.
Kabaka is against land amendment bill
The Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II has reiterated opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment on land ownership.
The Amendment, now before parliament, seeks to amend Article 26 of the Constitution to provide for compulsory acquisition of land for development projects, pending negotiations on compensation with the affected persons.
The article in its current form sets conditions for prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation before the compulsory acquisition of property for public use.
But Lands Minister Betty Amongi says the current law, which allows negotiation and compensation of the land owner before the project takes off, slows down government programmes particularly projects related to infrastructure development.
Amongi says that the proposed amendment seeks to resolve the problem of delayed implementation of government infrastructure and investment projects due to land disputes.
Speaking at the official opening of the 25th Buganda Lukiiko sitting at Bulange-Mengo today, Kabaka Mutebi cautioned that developments on private land should only take off after agreement between government and land owners.
“This agreement should be fair and when people are fully compensated. Here in Buganda, we have land on which traditional sites are (Etaaka elye’noono) which we think is very important and crucial in the Kingdom and all people of Uganda,” Kabaka said.
He added that it would be prudent if there are plans to use this kind of land for the country’s development purposes, to negotiate with the owners fairly.