Uganda’s ageing politician, Philemon Mateke, says there is no big deal about age and doesn’t see why Ugandans won’t let President Museveni keep ruling.
“I just turned 75. I thank God for his gift of a long life. I know I am lucky,” said the old Mateke who doubles as the Minister of State for Regional Affairs.
He was appointed to that position on 1 March 2015, replacing Asuman Kiyingi, who was appointed State Minister of Works. On account of his cabinet post, he is an Ex-Officio Member of Parliament.
In his argument backing the lifting of the presidential age limit, Mateke says Uganda is a poor country that can’t afford to keep changing presidents.
“Uganda, a poor country can’t afford a new president every now and then; new expensive elections, patronage networks, corruption, etc,” he argues.
According to him, Museveni can keep leading until the country stabilises. “I am 75. Donald Trump [US president] will be 79 when he finishes his second term in 2024. What’s the fuss about Age Limit?”
While Mateke was enjoying himself and delivering his points, a report came up saying Kisoro region where he hails, had decided to do away with aged politicians.
In an attack on Mateke, the residents reportedly said they were tired of being ruled by old men who has lost touch with the 21st century realities.
“Fake News! Ignore this non-story,” Mateke lashed out. “As you know, these children of mine are not serious. They are only good at gossip.”
Mateke who evoked social media outbursts when appointed minister says society is not fair to politicians.
“You say “Silence is the best answer” but when we MPs follow it in parliament, you curse us,” he lamented.
Born in Kisoro District, Western Uganda, circa 1943, Mateke attended local elementary schools, he was admitted to Mutolere High School, where he completed his O-Level studies.
He transferred to Kigezi High School, where he completed his A-Level education. He was admitted to Makerere University, where he obtained the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy. His chosen area of study was History.
Following his studies at Makerere, Mateke worked as a Lecturer in the Department of History at Makerere University from the late 1960s until the late 1970s.
During the Obote II regime, from 1980 until 1985, he served as the State Minister of Education.
A member of the Uganda People’s Congress prior to 1986, he became a member of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), soon after NRM captured power.
He served in the National Resistance Council, which was the parliament of the times, from 1989 to 1996.
In the 2006 election, he was elected unopposed as the Chairman of Kisoro District Council (LC5).
In 2011, at the end of his five-year term, he retired, until he was named State Minister for Regional Affairs on 1 March 2015. His appointment was approved by parliament on Wednesday 18 March 2015.