Of recent, it seems to have become fashionable for politicians trying to resuscitate their careers to make sweeping comments of all sorts about the Senior Presidential Advisor for Special Operations Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
The latest politician who tried in vain to milk some political capital out of his ridiculous comments about Gen Kainerugaba is the Kampala Central Member of Parliament Muhammad Nsereko. Mr. Nsereko who faces an uphill task to retain his MP seat recently appeared on NBS TV and claimed that Gen Kainerugaba cannot be President of Uganda ‘because he is not a Ugandan by birth’ and therefore ineligible to contest for Presidency. Total rubbish!
After listening to his remarks, I made a quick search and established that Nsereko, in 2005, graduated with a Diploma in Journalism, from the "International Institute of Business and Management Studies" (IIBMS). The following year, he reportedly graduated from Makerere University, with a Bachelor of Laws before he was awarded the Diploma in Legal Practice, by the Law Development Centre a year later.
Going by his profile, the good MP should be able to read and comprehend articles of the Ugandan Constitution – particularly regarding the eligibility for Uganda’s presidency which is what he was making a comment on. He shouldn't be the one to read parts of the Constitution in isolation.
Before I highlight some provisions in our Constitution regarding the subject, I will agree with Nsereko on one thing, that Gen Kainerugaba was indeed born in neighboring Tanzania at the time his parents were in exile trying to make Uganda a better place. This is what confused Mr. Nsereko to believe that for having been born (to Ugandan parents) outside Uganda, Gen Kainerugaba can’t even be president of Uganda that is if he aspires to do so anyway. In fact, Nsereko is indeed one very uninformed so-called lawyer and a disgrace to the Uganda Law Society and its affiliates.
It was amazing to see him put on a tough face to emphasize his ignorance. “If the Constitution is as it is, Muhoozi (Gen Kainerugaba) is not eligible to stand as President of Uganda. He is not a Ugandan citizen by birth! Therefore, Gen Muhoozi is not eligible to stand for President of Uganda, the Constitution as it,” Nsereko shouted. Well, we live in an information age and Nsereko has had to endure Ugandans mocking him for expressing downright ignorance, yet he sought to exude the swagger of a “learned friend.”
I was only disappointed that the show host, Mr. Simon Kaggwa Njala, as usual, was clueless and could not save his audience from Nsereko’s falsehoods. Col (rtd) Shaban Bantariza who was also on the show could have probably corrected the lies but the host insisted there was no time left.
Article 3 (10) b of our constitution clearly defines who a citizen of Uganda (by birth) is. “Every person born in or outside Uganda one of whose parents or grandparents was at the time of birth of that person a citizen of Uganda by birth.” Simply put, this provision clearly shows that regardless of birthplace, one is a Ugandan by birth as long as his or her parents and grandparents were Ugandan at the time of birth. This article doesn't need a legal brain to interpret. Therefore, it should not even be debated anywhere since Gen Kainerugaba's parents and grandparents were Ugandans at the time of the General's birth. For Nsereko, a ‘lawyer’ to ignore this provision of the Constitution either knowingly or otherwise for reasons best known to him is an absurdity. Those who have keenly followed Mr Nsereko know how he tries to grab attention by making outrageous statements and shifting positions as long as he feels his voters will be excited by his gimmicks.
Not long ago, he confronted his fellow MPs; Muwanga Kivumbi and Ssemujju Nganda. The two MPs had questioned the promotion of Gen Kainerugaba in the army. At that time, Nsereki rightly put it that Gen Kainerugaba, at that time a Brigadier, had received the necessary training and performed well against the al-Shabaab in Somalia, assignments in the Central African Republic and South Sudan and therefore deserved the promotions.
Therefore, I would expect Nsereko to come out and apologize to Ugandans and to Gen Kainerugaba for the alarming falsehoods made on national television. I would also implore media houses to make it a point to always equip their hosts with relevant documents like the constitution and others to always make reference so as to avoid people like Nsereko misleading our people.
The author is a retired teacher