Give me Hope My President: To what Length will you go to endlessly Change the Constitution!

President Museveni at his 2016 swearing-in

Opinion: In the 1980s, Uganda had gone through a riotous political period that saw the common people’s rise, through willfully engaging in support and contribution to a guerilla uprising that sprung momentum for the then NRA/NRM. This was personal for some, and a worthy step for many others given the circumstances of the time.

The abrogation of the realities stipulated by the constitution at the time deemed it necessary that the country comes together to rectify a political problem at the time. This noble cause brought the nation together regardless of political affiliations; although unfortunately it was through the barrel of the gun.

Recently, talk over the steps to advocate for the repeal of a section of the constitution that relates to the “presidential age limit” has raised doubt to some on the intentions of the current Kampala administration. In part, it is because this is not the first time an amendment to a very important section of the constitution is going to be made. The first was that of the term limit. What raises more concern is to what length this the administration will go to continuously change the constitution on matters that do not seem to favor them, and what this really means to the future of our country.

There are a lot of issues that require redress in fostering development in the country, or advancing economic progress, addressing the social and structural injustices, or the creation of opportunities for all. These, to my understanding, would be the core issues our parliament focuses on, and not the debate on whether we should continue to have a president who has been in power for the last 30 years continue his presidency. I think that as a nation, we could do better than that.

While other countries are designing strategic initiatives to create jobs for the youth, curb corruption, develop and revamp their infrastructure, reduce the economic gap, or improve the citizens healthcare system and policies that improve law and order, as a nation, we have been for the last several years entrapped in conversations relating to ekisanja (another term for the president), and presently the age limit.

I have personally not heard any of the parliamentary committees deliberate on the issues I have raised above save for hosting inquiries whose outcome have furthered the dissatisfaction in the productivity of our legislative body, especially because almost nothing on the outcomes of such deliberations seem to create a solution to the problems sighted.

I have observed how those on the opposition continue to suffer from the unfair hand of the country’s armed forces; including the police because of this and that. How the right to assembly or the freedom of speech and expression continue to be hampered! With the media freedom continuously checked, one wonders, with the overwhelmingly pro-NRM parliament, State, and a judiciary system that has become infiltrated with NRM cadres, what organ remains to check the actions of our government.

I want to hope that the recent scolding of the media by the president is not intended to undermine their responsibility to perform its duty-bound obligation. I know what it means not to be protected under the law; and I have seen what alterations to laws which are geared to benefit those in power do to the future of a nation. And I know it is something we all don’t want, those for the government as well as those in the opposition.

On the above note, I seek to call on all fellow countrymen, those in the opposition and those in government to cast their differences aside and for once contemplate on the future of our country. I have continuously seen young people graduate from colleges, and seek opportunities elsewhere simply because their chances are dim in their motherland Uganda.

Some have faced inextricable tough conditions wherever they are, but are willing to hang on because there are no opportunities back home. We should ask ourselves whether this is the future we seek, and one we are willing to settle for. Where we settle for becoming the cheap-labor providers to the other growing nations and in the event bolster their economies.

I have read about how our government speaks highly of the impact the remittances from those working abroad to the economy of our country. But I have also wondered what it means to have every countryman become a human resource for other countries when there’s more work to be done back home.

Instead, we should be asking ourselves what we should be able to do to attract those who develop skills wherever they are, skills that are relevant to the growth of the nation, and have them be part of the much larger plan to develop our country and create opportunities for fellow countrymen. I know that patriotism is not taught, it is not learnt, but can be cultivated within ourselves. Let’s seek that within ourselves and cultivate love for our country above anything else.

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Rogers Muyanja is a Ugandan living in the United States of America. He works as the Employers Relations Developer for Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, an organization that assists low-income adults in realizing their full potential through literacy, employment, advocacy and community involvement.