Uganda’s ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party has devised another deliberate plan to push for the removal of the presidential age limit to allow three-decade president Yoweri Museveni rule for life.
The youths were hired by party officials, coordinated by the NRM secretariat in Kampala, after sections of the public openly attacked MPs fronting the age limit removal idea.
One such MP was Kassanda South’s Simeo Nsubuga who was thumped by freelance news reporter William Ntege before Buganda Kingdom monarch Kabaka Ronald Mutebi during the coronation ceremony anniversary in Buwekuula, Mubende district in July.
The youths, many of whom have been under Museveni for all their lives, are tasked with influencing public opinion on Museveni life presidency as a plan to amend Article 102b of Uganda’s Constitution that bars everyone below 35 and those over 75 from standing for president comes up for debate in Uganda’s Parliament.
Born in 1944, Museveni will be over 75 and ineligible for reelection when Uganda next goes to the polls in 2021.
The youth have even formed a campaign group called Kick Age Limitations Out of the Constitution (Kaloc).
So far, the group has held campaigns in the municipalities of Lira, Soroti, Mbale and Kabale, with a launch being held in the latter.
Wrapped in dry banana leaves, (to signify that Museveni needs more terms) and carrying anti-age limit placards, the youths paralysed business in Kabale town – before heading to Lira, Mbale and Soroti.
All these marches were held in the month of August – and more could be coming.
Kaloc is a pottage of leaders from the NRM Youth League and the National Youth Council (NYC). Top leaders include: muslim cleric and Kabale NRM youth league chairman Kassim Kamugisha, and NYC secretary general and NRM youth League Vice chairman for Buganda Ibrahim Kitatta. The other top leaders are NYC and NRM youth league publicity secretary Samuel Odong.
It remains unclear if this group is aligned to Organising For Action (Ofa), another loose group of NRM party youths that launched activities in July.
The age limit removal campaign largely remains unpopular because article 102b remains the only hope for a smooth transition – Since independence, Uganda’s transitions have been characterised by blood-letting coups.
More so, if MPs’ campaigns have been met with hostility, using youths would seem like sending humans where angels fear to tread.
But the NRM secretariat has instructed the youths on what to say. The plan is also to remove the lower age limit to open elective offices to the ages of 18 from the current age of 35.
If the presidential age limit is removed, the youths have been told, they could benefit from the removal of the age limit in Section 112 of the Local government Act.
With the fusion of NYC and NRM youth council, the exchange of the Local government Act and Constitutional amendment, and the power of money, the youths could popularise what for now seems an unpopular view.
Additional reporting: Courtesy
Featured image: L-R: KALOC coordinators Ibrahim Kitatta, Anderson Burora, Samuel Odong and Kassim Kamugisha