KAMPALA — In 2017 a debate on the lifting of the age limit bill ensued and took center stage in the 10th parliament almost causing a constitutional crisis.
The bill which was tabled by former Igara East Mp Hon. Raphael Magezi was championed by a crop of young turks in Parliament and indeed at the end the article 102 clause 5 was scrapped to remove the cap on the age limit for political contenders both young and old as long as they are adults.
While promoters of the bill felt the power of championing a matter in the interest of king makers and the powers that be, it was a grave political miscalculation although it had short-term financial yields as all NRM party members were paid handsomely to pass the historical bill which was to eventually aid Gen. Museveni’s grip on the throne.
The aftermath impact of the age limit debate and subsequent voting perterns are something the current NRM caucus members ought to pay strategic attention to or they help themselves find an exit route from the national assembly.
The 10th parliament NRM legislators who took a blanket bandwagon decision to vote for the removal of the age limit against the will of the people they represent could not make it to the 11th parliament.
Most of them lost in party primaries and even many of those who took advantage of the party electoral weaknesses to grab the flag lost in the general elections including in areas of strong NRM base.
On the other hand, NRM legislators who remained liberal and represented the views of their constituents in that debate were rewarded with another term. For example, in Sembabule hon Sekikibo Theodore who was against the bill retained his seat, while wealthy Sam Kutesa saved himself the humiliation and retired from elective politics.
Raphael Magezi, the architect of the bill who was shortly after it’s passing was wise and declined to contest, while many of his comrades like former Koboko woman MP Anite Evelyn lost their seats. Like Sekikibo, other prominent Mps who opposed the bandwagon like Hon Tinkasimire, Wilfred Nuwagaba were able to retain their seats by public approval.
In Hoima district, Hon Pius Wakabi who voted as sent by his constituents of Bugahya county was in fact rewarded by bouncing back to the house unopposed.
If the the current NRM caucus is to start on a credibility ticket to handle legislative business and remain in high esteem of their electorates it is important for them to individually study the nature of decision to make while chosing a Speaker for the 11th parliament right from caucus to the house.
With the precence set by the age limit bill and the infamous OTT tax, it is important for individual NRM Mps to remember that their constituents are watchful and actually have leaned to be punitive to premitive political bandwagonry that if not careful many will procure their exit tickets in their maiden deliberation if they make mistakes with the Speakership race which by public opinion should be won by the Rt Hon Rebecca Kadaga both at caucus level and in the National assembly if no underhand machinations are employed by her opponents!