Tororo- A Cabinet minister has admitted that he supports the lifting of the age limit for presidential candidates from the Constitution because he wants to “survive.”
“Those of us who are old, we want to survive,” Mr Peter Lokeris, the state minister for Mineral Development said on Monday in Tororo District, where he had gone to commission a 10–megawatt Tororo Solar North power plant.
When the Daily Monitor asked him to clarify, he said he meant they [old politicians] want to live longer.
“It is not about food or a Cabinet post. It is to live, to enjoy life – with or without a job,” he said.
During his address on Monday, Mr Lokeris said the young and the middle-aged Ugandans who have issues with elderly politicians should know that they, too, will grow old.
The Karamojong in north-eastern Uganda, he added, believe in the leadership of elders.
He said since the elders are grounded in history, ‘we think we can benefit from them’.
Currently, many Ugandans are engaged in a fierce debate over the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2017, that seeks, among other proposals, to remove the age limit caps for presidential candidates.
The Constitution in its current form bars people who are less than35 years and above 75 years from contesting for presidency.
Unless it is amended, President Yoweri Museveni, 73, will not qualify to contest in 2021 because he would be 77 years old.
Proponents of the bill say, Mr Museveni, who has been in power for 31 years, should be given another “opportunity” to contest again in 2021 and lead the country for another 5-year term.
Opponents of the proposal say the culture of changing the Constitution to benefit one individual should be stopped.
Mr Museveni, who had many months back dismissed the Members of Parliament who were pushing for the lifting of the age limit, now says the age caps are discriminatory.
“The current legal regime is discriminatory against Ugandans who are below 30 and 35 for the offices of district chairperson and president respectively…These amendments are harmonising the current legal regime that is discriminatory…” Mr Museveni said during a recent caucus meeting for the ruling National Resistance Movement legislators
Mr Museveni also argued that Nelson Mandela became President of the Republic of South Africa when he was 76–years–old.
However, some senior citizens of Uganda, among them the former Prime Minister, Apolo Nsibambi, a political scientist, former Chief Justice Wako Wambuzi , former Principal Judge James Ogoola under their Elders Forum warned against the scheme to remove the age limit.
Credit: Daily Monitor