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Incumbents did not lose for supporting “age limit” amendment

By Milly B Babalanda

On Friday, September 4, members of the NRM went to the polls to elect flagbearers to Parliament in their respective direct constituencies and district women representatives. As is the norm, NRM’s primaries attract the biggest number of contestants and voters, and could be seen and felt countrywide.

I wish to congratulate NRM for staying the course and fulfilling internal democratic bridge building which will see us renew our partnership for leadership with Ugandans.
I congratulate the winners and promise to work with them as and when it serves our collective interests, not leaving behind those who contested but, unfortunately, did not carry the day. It is not the end of the world when you lose an election. Offering self for leadership is not a small feat and we are grateful to everybody who expressed interest and vied.

It was a highly competitive affair that, in some places, bred high tension. Elections tend to be divisive by nature but how we resolve the differences at the end of the day is what distinguishes us from the others. Let us use proper channels to table our grievances without acting in a way that harms the mother party, the vehicle conveying us to our destiny.

Now, among those who did not win the election –but who, indeed, won some mandate-are incumbents (from the 10th Parliament). Talk is that they lost because of supporting the removal of the age limit from the Constitution as it was under Article 102(b). That heated process was acted on and concluded in 2017.

Consequently, Uganda has the opportunity to tap leadership across all adult age groups without shutting out senior citizens, the banks of knowledge, seniority and tested values. Among them or chief of who is President Yoweri Museveni who, apart from being over 75, brings experience and undiluted Vision to the table of great leadership.

I, therefore, disagree that anybody lost in the primaries because of voting “aye” for the amendment that expanded the pool of potential leaders and, most of all, clearing the way for our trusted and tested captain of the NRM ship, President Museveni, to retain eligibility to continue offering is services to Ugandans, East Africans, Africans and indeed, the world population. Why would anyone victimise a legislator for taking such a stand?

Moreover, it is coming to three years since the amendment was passed. If there was any controversy or contention for the leadership of NRM and who would carry the party’s flag for the presidential race, in 2020 that contention no longer holds. It is overtaken by events! The entire party membership and the organs responsible for seconding the supreme party leader (national chairman) and simultaneously, the presidential flagbearer, N.E.C and C.E.C, endorsed Museveni. In fact, he was unopposed for both positions. Why, then, would voters punish MPs at a time when there is no controversy at all that we are fielding only one candidate whose eligibility was redeemed by that amendment?

To put it better, it is now that all members of NRM fully realise that the amendment was a very wise action.

And, if incumbents lost for supporting age limit removal, then why did those who opposed the amendment lose? Shouldn’t we say they lost for refusing to support a position which their voters wanted them to? How about newcomers, why did they lose? Was it because they supported the amendment yet they were not in Parliament?

It is my valued belief that the decision to amend Article 102(b) was a noble cause in deepening democratic interest without discriminating on the basis of age. If anybody still feels aggrieved about it, then that person, if within NRM, should show us who in NRM is better than Museveni when nobody came up to offer his or her candidature when nominations were called by Dr. Tanga Odoi. Is it to say we wouldn’t have fielded a candidate?

Unless the motive of those who opposed the amendment was to weaken our interest in the elections by fielding a weak candidate who would easily lose for the benefit of the opposition.

If by any chance it can be proved that any contestant lost because he or she supported “age limit” and it can be established with their voters, then I can state that the particular incumbent MP may have done little else in serving his or her people and “age limit” was only a polite “politically correct” excuse. After clearing the way for Museveni, the next step was to go back to the people and explain to them the “groom’s” grand Vision for the common person which necessitated continuing to have him around. I am sure anybody at the level of an MP has heard the big man elaborate his mission in leadership and what every other leader should do to actualise it.

Unfortunately, many MPs have failed to follow up Mzee’s messages to the public. This has created a rift between them and the voters hence the electoral difficulties they suffered.

However, most of those who took a stand knew the repercussions and decided to act with conviction that the decision they were making was in the best interest of Uganda. I am certain that the president will not forsake them in their time of need since they committed no crime in passing the treasured amendment, moreover under great intimidation and threats from the opposition.

The author is a Personal Assistant to the National Chairman, NRM

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