President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has in a post on his Facebook page attacked the judges of the Constitutional court for rejecting the 7-year tenure for MPs and Local Government councils.
Last week, the five justices; Justice Alphonse Owiny-Dollo, Remmy Kasule, Cheborion Barishaki, Elizabeth Musoke and Kenneth Kakuru in separate judgments delivered at the Mbale High court quashed the constitutional amendment through which the term of office of the current parliament had been extended from 5 to 7 years.
The judges said that the extension was erroneous and that the Constitution only provides for the extension of parliament during emergencies, even then, for only six months.
The judges agreed that members of parliament erred in law and principle when they voted to extend their term of office and that of Local Governments without consulting the people of Uganda.
The majority judgment means that unless it is successfully challenged in the Supreme court, the term of the 10th parliament will end in 2021 and not 2023 as the amendment stated.
Now in his letter issued through his senior press secretary Don Wanyama, Museveni who is currently in South Africa says that it is unfortunate that the judges spend more time on form and not substance, on procedure and not substance.
“My freedom fighter’s sense of justice, in this matter (the age limit ruling) focuses more on the convenience of 7 years rather than 5 years. With the 5 years, a lot of time is spent on electioneering and less time on development; the 1st two years settling in, the 3rd year some work in the constituency and, then, by the 4th year, electioneering again,” reads part of Museveni’s letter.
He further states that the judges are not the ones in charge of the country and if the NRM MPs follow his guidelines and bond closely with the people, through wealth and job creation, they can, together with the people, make the necessary constitutional reforms with or without court.
“The Constitution should facilitate the modernization of Uganda and the economic and political integration of Africa for the survival of the people of Africa as free people, not just the theatre of democracy of form without addressing substance,” Museveni further writes.
He says that judges should have taken into consideration the recent Local Council 1 and Women Councils and Committee elections which gave massive victory to the NRM, soon after the age limit and the seven years’ debate.
Museveni opines that this was more or less a referendum since there was open participation by millions of Ugandans.
“We shall harmonise and galvanize our position. The undemocratic age limit nonsense was clear. “Nibagaya Engabo oti mwihemu abagurusi? How can you say old soldiers should be disqualified when everybody’s efforts are needed because the good soldiers are not enough?” he questions.
Besides the rejection of the 7 year tenure, the Constitutional court upheld the amendment of the Constitution that lifted the cap on the presidential age with four of the five members of the panel saying that the amendment of Article 102 (b) of the Constitution did not contravene the Constitution, neither did it contravene parliament’s rules of procedure.