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Minority Report Wants Parliament to Reject ‘Age Limit' Bill :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Minority Report Wants Parliament to Reject ‘Age Limit' Bill

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The minority report signed by eight legislators is against the recommendations carried in the committees main report signed by 20 MPs. The main committee report agrees with the Bill recommending for the removal of the upper presidential age limit and a reduction of the lower limit to 18 years.
Two of the MPs that endorsed the minority report, Medard Lubega Sseggona and Mathias Mpuuga.
A section of MPs sitting on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee have written a minority report pushing Parliament to reject the controversial Constitution (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2017 in its entirety.

The Bill presented by the Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi seeks to, among others, amend Article 102(b) which bars people below 35 and those above 75 years from standing for the office of President. Magyezi, supported by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), wants both the age limits opened up.

The minority report signed by eight legislators is against the recommendations carried in the committee's main report signed by 20 MPs. The main committee report agrees with the Bill recommending for the removal of the upper presidential age limit and a reduction of the lower limit to 18 years.

Led by the Shadow Constitutional Affairs Minister Medard Lubega Sseggona and Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba, the minority members say that the ‘Age Limit' Bill is based on wrong assumptions and is not justified in democratic governance.

The other MPs who endorsed the minority report are Monicah Amoding, Adeke Anna Ebaju, Muhammed Nsereko, Abdu Katuntu, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda and Mathias Mpuuga.

“lt offends the Rules of Procedure and Public Finance Management Act in respect of Certificate of Financial implications and we invite members to recall the history of this country and reject this bill in its entirety,” reads part of the recommendation to Parliament.

The MPs say that the Bill was not brought in good faith and is intended to undermine the democratic path of the country. They want government to establish the Constitution Review Commission and spearhead the development of comprehensive Constitutional amendments desired by the entire country.

They argue that the Constitution does not envisage amendments to entrench one man's rule and that such endeavors date as far back as 2005 when Article 105(2) of the Constitution was amended to allow President Yoweri Museveni to contest for presidency after his two terms were exhausted.

“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 who 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,” further reads the minority report.

The minority report disagrees with the argument that the issue of age limit removal is a political question to be resolved by the parliament saying that power emanates from the people who should be consulted and that this is the only way of putting in effect the spirit of Article 1 of the Constitution.

The MPs say that repealing Article 102(b) at the moment is very dangerous as it is being done for only one possible beneficiary, the current President. The MPs say that Article 102(b) has not yet been tested and that there is no stalemate with it.

Whether the Bill Was Competently placed Before the Committee The Minority report says that the mover of the Bill , MP Raphael Magyezi, premised it on the Supreme Court decision in the case of Amama Mbabazi vs Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Electoral Commission and the Attorney General in the presidential Election Petition No.1 of 2016 where the ruling gave instructions to the Attorney General, a Respondent in the case to take up actions as directed by the court.

“The ruling was not against the whore world, it was directed to a specific person. It states that the Attorney General must follow up the recommendations made by this Court with the other organs of State, namely Parliament and the Executive,” reads the minority report.

The Supreme Court ordered that the Attorney General shall report to Court within two years from the date of the Judgment the measures that have been taken to implement recommendations.

“The mover is not the Attorney General whom the court directed to take action. The Attorney General according to the date of Judgment which is 26th August 2016 is still within time to comply with the directives of court. And after taking action, he was supposed to file a report to court,” the MPs indicate.

The MPs argue that the presentation of the ‘Age Limit' Bill by the Private Member cannot be in compliance with terms and directives of the Supreme Court but rather actions of an overzealous member of the House who should not hide under the cloak of the judgement.

The legislators further argue that the “Age Limit' was never an issue before Court and that the critical issues before Court as contained in the judgement were deliberately left out of the Bill.

Certificate of Financial Implication  The MPs further argue that the Certificate of Financial Implication upon which the ‘Age Limit' Bill was premised is offensive to Section 76 of Uganda Public Finance Management Act, 2015.

The minority report says that the purported certificate is in respect of constitutional amendments 2017, different from Constitution (Amendment) (No.2) Bill of 2017.

“Accordingly, Constitution (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2017 has no supporting certificate of financial implication,” claims the report.

The report says that even when the certificate was made for the Constitution (Amendment) (No.2) Bill of 2017, it falsely indicates that the Bill has no possibility of inflicting any additional cost on budget, yet the minority MPs observed that Parliament has already spent over 13 billion shillings that had not been budgeted previously for facilitating MPs to carry out consultations.

“It should be noted that the Certificate falls short of required detail for it does not articulate how much revenue will be generated or how much will be expended in a period of not less than two years. This contravenes Uganda Public Finance Management Act rendering the Certificate null and void,” says the report.