Legislators opposed to the lifting of Presidential Age Limit have protested the meeting between President Yoweri Museveni and MPs on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.
The trio; Mathias Mpuuga (Masaka Municipality), Medard Sseggona (Busiro East) and Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga County) addressed a press conference this morning, protesting the manner in which the business of amending the Constitution is being handled.
Mpuuga, a Democratic Party MP, said that the public is aware of the fact that the Age Limit Bill is essentially a ‘Museveni Bill’ and that the sponsor, Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi, is just a ‘conduit’.
“The rush to meet him is what we don’t understand. Whoever is advising them should tell them to slow down because they’ll hit hard, they should reflect on the manner the committee is being governed. We would like to advise Oboth Oboth and those who believe like him that this country is not an iceberg that is going to melt with rising temperatures,” the MPs warned.
This followed a heated meeting held yesterday where Parliament informed the Committee members that the institution was cash-strapped and that there was no money to facilitate the countrywide consultations.
However, Mpuuga explained that Parliament told the Committee to retreat to work on the report that has to be ready in the next five days.
In the draft budget documents that leaked in October 2017, the Committee indicated that it planned to spend Shs715, 300,000 for processing of the Bill.
Of this, Shs227, 250,000m was to be spent on internal field trips where the Committee had planned to travel to five regions across the country, with the MPs visiting seven districts from each of the five regions.
Additionally, Shs400, 080,000 m was budgeted for the international trips with the Committee set to travel to three countries.
While on the other hand, the Committee would retreat to write its report after the consultations, an exercise that would cost tax payers Shs88,300,000.
But the Committee members have rejected the claim by Parliament, with Mpuuga demanding answers as to why the Committee has chosen to deviate from the agreed programme, to go to the countryside and consult the electorate.
“We take exception that there is no money to facilitate the countryside consultations but the same Parliament has money to roll out to MPs to consult voters and facilitate the football team of MPs,” Mpuuga said.
Another reason for protesting the meeting at State House was the ‘fraudulent’ way six MPs were added to the Committee, with the ‘rebellious’ MPs wondering which kind of submission the new MPs were to add on the report even before they make a maiden speech on the floor of Parliament.
Now, the MPs are demanding for Parliament to find the resources to consult across the country, saying failure to hold countrywide consultations would send the respect accorded to the Committee ‘down the trenches’.
Ssekikubo wondered why Museveni is ‘mutilating the same Constitution’ he once praised to be the best in the world by interfering with the Committee’s due process.
He even made allegations that the Committee report has already been finalized with Government simply waiting to fill in the blank spaces.
“We are being provoked beyond human endurance. The new MPs haven’t interfaced with the Committee witnesses and were brought at the tail end of the process. That will be a default and forged report,” Ssekikubo argued.
Sseggona described the decision by Museveni to summon MPs yet seven members of the Committee were out of the country on official duties as ‘brutal’.
“Museveni is brutal in character and he believes that he will achieve everything in brutality,” Sseggona said.
The MPs also accused their colleagues of bribery reporting that the President intends to dish out Shs300m to each MP that shows support for the Bill at State House.