Age Limit Removal: How Greed and Avarice by Legislators have Dragged Country Uganda back to Zero

President Museveni signs the bill into law recently (courtesy photo)
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Dear readers, it has been quite some time since you last read from me. I have indeed missed sharing my opinions through ‘the investigator’ on the issues surrounding the state of affairs in Uganda. Having come back pain-stricken from the recent passing of the unwarranted constitutional amendments, I will dwell a lot on my presumed opinion on why I think it is time for Ugandans to rethink their interest in the future of the country as a New Years’ resolution. I have conclusively deducted that the recent occurrences are comparable to a display of greed, or avarice; that continues to show the less interest in serving the advancement of the common man by those in political offices instead focusing more on their own interests.

Since the year 2018 is here, and the recent outcomes from the parliamentary deliberations have demonstrated what the future of the country looks like, this piece is intended for the readers to catch up on this historic moment that has transpired for Uganda, where a colossal decisions was reached at by the country’s legislature; to remove limitations on the age of a contending president from the previous constitutions provision of 75 years, and lengthening their stay in office from the usual five years to seven years.

I will take a moment to define the two concepts that I bring forth in my first paragraph which are; greed and avarice, which define the elected official’s positions based on how they voted. I know that some may disagree with this notion and I will be quick to mention that when I write these articles, I am aware of those with differing opinions for whom my intention is to inform. Greed has been defined as the intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food; and avarice particularly defined as extreme greed for wealth or material gain. Whereas some members of parliament may deny for their overwhelming desire having been the selfish interest for money, below are my reasons why, with no doubt those in denial are wrong.

When the talk of the age limit removal started, many of the legislators of sound reason thought the idea to have been insane and unnecessary. However, they agreed that the determination from the interested parties to have the bill passed would be unsurpassed in every way possible. This was the view and opinion as well for many public spectators who silently watched from the sidelines while riots and blows picked momentum and interrupted the August House procedure a few times with public threats of more havoc from all parties.

While the outrage continued from those openly opposed to the idea, and similarly equal retaliatory threats from the likes of “Akite” money was being discussed. What started as 200 plus million Uganda shillings (and this got many delegates silently excited), came down to twenties and thirties. The addition of an extension to the delegates’ stay in office by more two years was the last catch. This meant that with more time in office, and money pocketed from the voting for the passing of the bill, the MPs would be able to buy their reputation back from the electorate, or prepare themselves for a descent retirement if they are not elected back into office.

While some may pre-empt this argument by suggesting that the MPs have a right to their opinion, my question would be; how come they did not do so willingly without the involvement of money? First off, every Member of Parliament receives enough financial resources for accessing the constituency each month. How come none accept a few who decided to return the money utilized such money to consult on the age limit debate without accepting the money from government if at all it was not an incentive?

Secondly, we know of so many other Members of parliament who went ahead to consult without such money, and they were able to execute the job regardless. Does that mean there were differing factors in their way of operation? Secondly, when did the idea of extending the ‘kisanja’ from five years to seven years come up? And when it did, where was the input of the public opinion? Is it because when it came to this issue it was realized that the opinion of the public who pay for the money spent on the Members of Parliament was not important?

I believe that with talk of the age limit, many Members of Parliament got carried away at the suggestion of this extension. Little did they know that the extension of their stay in office was a catch tailored to hoodwink them into voting for the age limit removal since it provided security for their longer stay in office (for those who feared loss after the vote) and the financial incentive was equally significant.

To the young people who are the caretakers on the country tomorrow, these decisions did not take into account your wellbeing for whichever way you intend to look at it. There is no opportunity for you in a Member of Parliament serving seven years in office save for him or her satisfying their selfish desire, a manifestation of greed. Secondly, there are no guarantees that the longer someone stays in office the better they may become at fostering positive contributions to the relevant policies that impact on the livelihood of Ugandans. If they have failed to do anything in five or ten years, how are they going to be able to do anything in seven or fourteen years?

For those interested in the future of the country and those who will dwell in it, it is time to reconsider your options regardless of what party you believe in and vote for the right candidates although I am well aware that the breed of such leaders in the Uganda today, is extremely scarce. The biggest problem for Africa is that we have been brainwashed to believe that the only means to a bright future is seeking opportunities away from Africa, and so, many have given up hope for looking to contribute to the positive changes in their own countries and focused more on applying for visas to find work abroad. Today, many Diasporas will testify to you that they have become victims of this system, which has become widely promoted in Uganda by the country’s leadership who continuously encourage migration with no political will in addressing the conditions of its nationals wherever they are no matter the conditions thay are faced with.

To many of you, the future of the country looks dim especially with the recent occurrences. It is however important to note that, just because someone has sabotaged you or simply because a problem stands in your way; giving up is never an answer, but rather a cancer to a lasting problem that is capable of eating lifetimes of generations. Many who have attained success from such situations realized that their personal interest were a hindrance to the opportunities that would benefit them as a whole, and so, by advocating for their collective bargain, were able to attain the lasting positive effects that have brought developments and economic prosperity to all. Those with doubt, consult the history of the developed nations around the world from which you will learn that many were worse off than where Uganda is today, but are counted among the most prosperous nations today, not because of what their leaders did, but what the nationals did.

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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.