The controversial December 2017 amendment of the Constitution to allow President Yoweri Museveni to extend his presidency beyond 35 years is the bait the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga took to the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) to have her re-elected as the party’s 2nd National Vice Chairman.
Speaking at State House Entebbe on Tuesday where members of the Central Executive Committee [CEC] sat to vet candidates who sought positions on the second-highest policy organ of the party, Kadaga said she facilitated the amendment of the constitution under very strenuous circumstances, for which she deserves a reward.
“In very difficult circumstances, I facilitated the amendment of the constitution under article 102 to enable continuity of the NRM ideology, but most importantly our national chairperson to continue leading the country after the end of the present term. I have demonstrated my commitment to the party throughout…I have enacted all the necessary legislation and I have been available for work in the party throughout,” Kadaga said.
A total of 317 MPs mainly from NRM voted to remove the constitutional age limits for presidential contenders to allow Museveni who turns 76 this year, to contest in the 2021 presidential elections.
Before its amendment, Article 102(b) barred anyone from contesting for the presidency unless they were between 35 and 75 years of age.
This automatically would have disqualified President Yoweri Museveni from contesting again. The process of amending the constitution was so contested that members of the Special Force Command invaded parliament and beat up MPs who had in the past foiled a debate on the amendment by making noise eclipsing the speaker and other members in favour of the motion.
Two MPs, Betty Bakireke Nambooze (Mukono Municipality) and Francis Zaake (Miyana Municipality) escaped with severe injuries after security forces raided the parliamentary chamber.
When eventually the bill was passed and the president assented to it, some people ran to the constitutional court that upheld the amendment as legal, although they struck out provisions that related to the extension of the term of office for members of parliament from five to seven years.
Dissatisfied, some petitioners ran to the Supreme Court which also upheld the ruling of the Constitutional Court.
Having steered the House to pass the amendment, Kadaga says, the NRM should reward her.
“I want to urge the NRM members to take into account my contribution and do the needful,” Kadaga said.
In the race, Kadaga, the woman MP for Kamuli district is with State Minister for Lands Persis Namuganza who used her time to say that time is up for oldies in the party. Namuganza said the challenges facing the NRM like the youth wave that is blowing across the country needs a fellow youth like herself.
She said that the fact that opposition MPs like Betty Nambooze and Cecilia Ogwal have expressed a preference for Kadaga is testimony that they don’t like a strong person who will finish them.
“We must stay in power like NRM but to do so, we must have continuous recruitment more so of the young people,” Namuganza said. Also in the race is Deborah Kyazike Kinobe, the former LCV chairperson of Mityana district and Amongin Jane Frances Okiri.