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26.06.2011 Feature Article

Presidential Age Limit Should Be Scrapped From The Constitution

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I may sound a bit weird on this but I think age limit should not be applicable to leaders born before the computer age. This is something i have been thinking about for a while. In all honesty, I find it awkward to ask an African man their age because most of them don't know when they were born exactly. Just look at our African footballers in the premiership, some of them look older but you find the media here in the UK reporting their age as in 20s. Every time I used to watch Kanu( Nigeria footballer) on the pitch- when he was playing for Portsmouth, I used to see an old man in his late 30s but the media reported something less than that.

I just wish people lay off age limits as far as presidency and the current generation of African men are concerned. Most Africans don't know when exactly they were born. So there is a possibility that president Museveni may even be younger or older than 63. The reason for ending Museveni's perpetual presidency should not be based on his age but on his ability to lead the country. As far as I know, Museveni should not have stood for presidency in 2011 because I think he has lost the credibility to lead the country but I would not pin this on his age or something like that- because it's kind of a useless argument.

No wonder, age is literally becoming even useless in the western countries as I have seen kids here who are supposed to be 16 years old but they look like they are in their mid 20s. Age should not be a determinant for the presidency, and I think it should be scrapped from the constitution for now. Let's just restore presidential term limits but leave age out of it. We are Africans and most of us don't know when exactly we were born.

The reason why I'm saying that it should be removed temporarily is because we have got people with leadership ambitions but they don't know when they were exactly born. So, the more we keep it in place, the more we force people in this category to either keep unnecessarily deceiving us about their age or finding ways of changing the constitution to protect their rights. This article or whatever about age limits for presidency makes our constitution to look a bit unconstitutional, i.e. it is discriminating people who don't know their DOB yet it was not their fault. I'm surprised there is no lawyer who has gone to the courts yet to challenge it.

It is not like here in the developed nations where every child born or dead has got to be registered with the registrar's office. Even ladies who have still birth have to register such babies. One cannot burry them before they are registered. So the issue of Date Of Birth is easy for them here in developed nations- unlike us.

In Uganda, people manufacture birth certificates on Nasser road when some people request for them because they don't have any and don't know when they were exactly born. It is only kids who have been born in this computer age that will be ok with age limits in the constitution but not people in our generation. For instance, that baby whose mother was pregnant and she was shot during the 'Walk to work' protests, he will know his age because it is in every computer in the world. I think some Ugandans on the Ugandans At Heart(UAH) forum nicknamed him 'RISASI'' if my memory serves me right. But what about guys who were born when the only thing governments in place were interested in was how to murder Baganda, Westnilers and keeping themselves in power?

Yes, I know there is a risk of some people misusing this well intentioned gesture but that is a risk we gonna have to take to protect the spirit of constitutionalism in the country. We should not look at this issue in the Museveni angle alone because with him, he can change or bring any articles he wants in the constitution regardless of what Ugandans want. This plan is merely meant to save the very constitution we are trying to protect from some form of unconstitutionalism.

Some people have accused me of suggesting this for the benefit of 'my boss”(whatever this means). First of all, President Museveni is not my boss because he never brings any cent on my account. Actually, he has never brought any cent on my account.

Secondly, there is nothing novel or radical about this idea of scrapping presidential age limit. People who came with the 1995 constitution reportedly consulted people during CA before they came up with all this stuff we are reviewing now, but I can tell you right now that nobody consulted me or any of my friends. So I don't know what they based on to come up with some stuff in the constitution. If you ask me, I would tell you that Uganda has got a good constitution but some things need to be reviewed, and I think this is one of them.

It was selfish for the parliament to remove presidential term limits and I think they should be restored, but age limit should be temporarily put to bed and rest. The current MPs need to find a way of restoring presidential term limits as soon as possible.

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Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
UK

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba, © 2011

The author has 187 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: AbbeyKibirigeSemuwemba

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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