By Max Patrico Ocaido
A minority report on the Constitution Amendment Bill, 2017(No.2) by the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has emerged.
The report comes a day after Kampala Post attained the majority report that is set to be tabled on the floor of parliament for debate next week on Monday.
This 22-page minority report that the Kampala Post has obtained has been prepared and signed by opposition MPs on the legal committee who are opposed to amending the constitution that among others intends to scrap article 102(b) to allow candidates below the age of 35 and above 75 to contest for president.
Whereas the majority report that was prepared by committee chairperson Markson Oboth Oboth has been signed and endorsed by 20 MPs (more than the required 2/3 needed for a report’s adoption), the minority report has been signed by 7 MPs who include; Medard Sseggona (DP), Winfred Niwagaba (Ind), Abdu Katuntu (FDC), Mathias Mpuuga (DP), Monicah Amoding (NRM), Mohammed Nsereko (Ind) and Anna Adeke (Ind). Despite being one of the protagonists against lifting of age limits, FDC’s Ibrahim Ssemujju’s name appears on the minority report but the Kira municipality legislator did not append his signature onto the report.
The report says that the Age limit Bill is an illegality considering that it was brought for its first reading (October 03) following the acrimony that engulfed the presentation of the motion seeking leave of the House to present a Private Member's Bill.
In their report, the minority MPs observed that the amendment is only brought for the convenience of President Yoweri Museveni.
“Some proponents of the Age limit removal premise their argument on the fact that Uganda still needs President Museveni. This is evident in the several memoranda presented to the Committee. This applies to some opponents of the Bill some of whom view the Article 102(b) as a way of finally allowing a peaceful transition from one person to another. The minority observe that the amendment is only brought for the convenience of the President just like the removal of term limits,” the minority report reads in part.
The report adds, “the minority members are of the opinion that repealing article l02(b) at the moment is very dangerous as it is being done for only one possible beneficiary, the current President. Constitutional amendments are never made for but for posterity peace, order and governance. This is the practice among the civilized nations guided by their Leaders. Article l02(b) has not yet been tested and we find ourselves in no stalemate with-it”.
The minority report also rejected the opinion that the continuity of article l02(b) of the Constitution will threaten peace and tranquility both with in Uganda, East Africa and Africa as a continent and that it shall impact on development and slow down the achievements registered since l986. The opposition MPs calls this opinion fronted by Age limit removal proponents as political blackmail whose effect is the destruction of institutions.
“All that a country needs are safety valves, shared vision and spirit of constitutionalism that drive their resolve to their constitution,” the report further reads. The minority report cites countries like Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, Ivory Coast and others that have safety valves in their constitutions.
“The proposed amendment especially on lifting age limit is a political action whose consequences are for reaching and injurious to the democratic growth of Uganda,” the report adds.
The minority report also observes that whereas the current Amendment is to fulfill the time-bound recommendations of the Supreme Court in the Amama Mbabazi Vs Yoweri Museveni presidential election petition, presentation of the Bill by the said Private Member cannot be in compliance of terms and directives of the Supreme Court rather it's the actions of an overzealous member of the House who should not hide under the clock of that judgement.
“Indeed, the age limit was never an issue before Court. The critical issues before Court as contained in that judgement have deliberately been left out of this Bill,” the report adds.
Further, the minority report added that Certificate of Financial implication that was presented by the Minister of Finance upon which the Bill was premised is offensive to Section 76 of Uganda Public Finance Management Act, 2015.
“This particular Bill is based on wrong assumptions and is not justified in democratic governance. It offends the Rules of Procedure and Public.
Finance Management Act in respect of Certificate of Financial implications and we invite members to recall our history of this country and reject this Bill in its entirety,” the minority report recommended.