You have tabled a Bill that different people, including religious leaders, civil society and common people say is bad for the country.
Our Bill is not bad at all. This is a good Bill looking at something that is fundamental for this country. My fear is some of these people who are saying it is bad. They may have even not have looked at it. They may just be hearing about what some people are saying on radios and demonstrations here and there, but if you look at the Bill in detail, it is a very good Bill.
You have been a subject of attack on social media, in Parliament and there have been reports of attacks on your property back in Bushenyi.
I have not been attacked as such. There have been abuses, insults and intimidating messages. But violence is not good for the country because it is building a culture that whenever you disagree with somebody, then you have to throw all sorts of insults at them. I hope these religious and cultural leaders can help us improve morals of society. You have seen even in Parliament people desisting on debate and taking to violence, insults and noise. I get these threats and insults but I think it is part of job hazard and I am not threatened.
Whether in Kampala or Bushenyi, do you feel free to move around?
I am very free. I was at home two weeks ago and I was everywhere. Interestingly, people came to see me, to see the kind of security around me. Someone even said he had come to see the Mamba and they found I was very free. I feel free and there is no problem. I have not relocated to any other home.
If your proposed amendments are adopted, President Museveni will for the second time benefit from a change in the Constitution backed by his government. Do you think this is right?
I don’t know why people focus on President Museveni. My Bill has nothing to do with President Museveni. It is a Bill for you and me. He has a right as a Ugandan also to enjoy any privileges just like you and me but my Bill is about young people below 35, who are capable to lead. Do you think President Museveni can come back to 35 years to lead? No, my Bill is about elderly people above 75, who are able to lead this country. Surely, President Museveni is not the only one who is above 75. He is not even there. I am looking at the future with or without President Museveni. When you make a law, the law is blind and does not look at you or me. It looks at society and how it can be governed. For me, I think this is a fundamental milestone in the governance of our country with or without President Museveni.
After serving 35 years as President, some argue that President Museveni should retire in 2021
That’s a question that should be answered at different levels. One at his own personal level - would he want to retire? The second level is the party. Does NRM still need to bring him? The third level is the country. He may have to face an opponent from other parties as he has always done. The question would be; do Ugandans still need him to lead as President? Ugandans will decide in a free and fair ballot. If he comes back, I don’t have any problem.
The framers of the 1995 Constitution wanted to prevent presidencies for life by putting age limit and term limits. Term limits were already removed and now you have been accused of trying to create a life presidency by removing age limit.
The Bill opens up the door to all intending candidates to stand and be elected. Who will make somebody become life president? If you don’t want him or her to be life president, don’t vote for them. Life presidency cannot be determined by this Bill. You may not be able to lead to a certain age because of your physical structure, not because of the years. That’s what I am trying to wipe out of the Constitution. You can talk of life presidency, but this doesn’t work as long as you strengthen the ability of the people to elect their leader. There is no creation of life presidency. It is Ugandans who will vote who to be their president.
Do you think it is proper that the Constitution should be amended on such a contentious matter by Parliament alone?
Well, if one doesn’t want to amend the Constitution in the manner which it provides, then that person is behaving unconstitutionally. I am not abrogating the Constitution. So when people say we shall fight for our Constitution, then you’re the one raping the Constitution because the Constitution says if you want to amend it and time comes, there are opportunities for it to be amended. We could actually have sat and done it as Parliament, but the Speaker has insisted that we take it to the people, she sent the Bill to the Committee of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. That committee is open to you all. You can submit your memorandum, your proposals, your likes and dislikes to that committee in writing or you can request to meet them physically. The population has a possibility to make their views heard by the committee. Also, the MPs are going to their constituencies to consult.
Cabinet has backed your Bill and critics say you are just being used by President Museveni to remove the age limit and enable him to run again in 2021
There is nothing wrong with Cabinet supporting a private member. It is good, actually, it shows that Parliament and Cabinet are working together. If what I am doing eases the work of the Executive, advances the good of the country, there is nothing wrong with the Executive supporting me and that doesn’t in anyway indicate that I am under the influence of anybody. It is actually my Bill and I own it and I am responsible for it, I am the mover of this Bill and if I am convinced that this is not a good Bill, I can withdraw it. I have that mandate. I would even expect the support of the Opposition because this is not an NRM Bill. It is a Bill about a country without parties because any party would want to bring its leader who is below 35 and above 75 as their flag bearer.
You tabled the Bill when some MPs were suspended after the fist-fights. Weren’t you bothered by the circumstances as you tabled your motion?
Their suspension was unfortunate, but that’s under the ambit of the Speaker. My role as MP is to request leave of the House to move a motion. The circumstance and environment for me to do that is the responsibility of the administration of Parliament. So, that was the speaker’s decision, it was part of her right, I think she judged the mood properly and I had quorum to do that.
Aren’t you worried that the motion you have tabled has proved so divisive for the country?
Supporting and not supporting a given position are absolutely human and normal. I would have been more scared to bring a motion and there is no voice saying ‘no’. Even in a home, if everybody is saying yes, you have a problem in that home. I like the debate. It’s only the friction that I don’t. That’s the way it should be. For me, that is absolutely healthy. What I condemn is the violence, insults, threats.