ROLAND KAGINDA MUGUME is the MP for Rukungiri municipality and deputy opposition chief whip. An outspoken opponent of the age limit bill removal in parliament, he also returned the Shs 29 million given to MPs as facilitation to consult voters on the bill.
His constituency has also witnessed the most deadly clashes between police and opposition supporters against lifting the age limit. He shared his experiences with Joseph Kimbowa.
What is the situation in Rukungiri?
What I want the country to know is that Rukungiri spoke out loud and clear on the removal of presidential age limit. Article 1 says power belongs to the people.
All along we politicians have been cheating people by claiming to decide for them but from my experience, people have exercised their powers and said no to any form of amending Article 102 (b) to lift the age limit of 75 years.
People know the only weapon left against dictatorship is the Constitution, especially after the removal of term limits in 2005.
Since [Raphael] Magyezi tabled the bill, people have been wondering; why has government picked just one amendment? Isn’t it a ploy for the president to overstay in power?
Removing the age limit would create problems for this country especially if one remembers the brutal days of Idi Amin. When you compare Uganda and our neighbours, it is our economy that is lagging behind in terms of development due to overstay of one man. Rukungiri is ready to defend the Constitution.
At one of your rallies recently, your supporters clashed with police, leading to the death of one of your supporters. Is it worthy to campaign against the age limit when some of your supporters are dying?
We are in a country full of injustices but we can only liberate it by fighting against those injustices. The death of Edison Nasasira is regrettable and no amount of government excuses can bring back his life.
Gen [Henry] Tumukunde brought Shs 10 million to console the bereaved family at the burial but the family was not satisfied.
He blamed police for the unfortunate death but we want those who killed him to be brought to book. Our lawyer [Ladislaus] Rwakafuuzi has taken up the matter and we shall follow it up to its conclusion until Nasasira gets justice. There are even many more who were wounded by the errant police officers.
Has the tension subsided since?
Not at all. The police establishment made matters worse by bringing a new DPC in the area yet his record is tainted.
That man [Moses] Nanoka, was tried and convicted by the police tribunal for beating up Dr Kizza Besigye supporters and had since been on katebe yet Gen Kayihura inflamed the situation by posting him there.
His first task was contempt of court when he refused to take to court one of our activists, Darius Tweyambe, in spite of a court order. We are going to oppose his stay in Rukungiri and I have already petitioned the IGP on this.
Recently, you were one of the MPs forcefully evicted from the parliament in which some of your colleagues sustained life- threatening injuries. What is your take on the whole episode now that the speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has questioned the motive of the security officers and their identities?
Up to this day, I’m still perturbed how the speaker allowed intruders to manhandle members of parliament. There are well-laid-out procedures if the speaker is suspending an MP but surprisingly she did not follow them.
It baffled me why MPs who were not suspended like Ssemujju [Ibrahim Nganda], Matthias Mpuuga, Betty Nambooze were instead the first to be manhandled by the intruders. The speaker is yet to address that issue yet it is pertinent. She should, therefore, apologise.
In fact, we wouldn’t have witnessed that brutality and harassment of MPs had the speaker followed Rule 80 (4), which says that if an MP is suspended, the suspension takes effect at the next sitting when that MP is barred from the House.
The way she acted clearly showed she wanted us out there and then. We are relieved a bit that she has written to the president inquiring about the identities of the intruders but there is no denying she was in the know about the move.
Some MPs’ lives may never be the same courtesy of some rogue elements in security forces who brutalised them. What is the fate of Nambooze or Zaake?
The speaker should come out and tell us what really transpired, leading up to our harassment. Government should also explain its role in this saga such that it doesn’t happen again, especially when there is a contentious issue before parliament.
Meanwhile, FDC is going to the polls on November 24. As a member of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and also the vice chairperson in charge of western Uganda, how ready is the party when you factor in the political goings-on in the country?
First of all, FDC is exhibiting the highest level of democracy this country has ever seen. There is no mudslinging in the campaigns and this shows internal democracy is working.
Personally I wanted us to postpone the elections and first defeat this age limit monster as well as the impending LC-I elections but the party thought otherwise and I respect that.
So, who are you supporting for the presidency and why?
I’m yet to personally meet all the contestants but very soon I will come out. However, as an activist, I appreciate the courage of Patrick Amuriat. I have no problem with Gen Mugisha Muntu as a leader but I believe the NRM people need to be challenged with someone who can handle them well.
Gen Muntu has tried his best to build party structures, minimised wrangles within the party and many party organs are working.
Meanwhile, our headquarters at Najjanankumbi are now fully ours after purchasing the place. My only issue with him is the approach to state machinery. Dr Besigye demonstrated that NRM government head-on needs confrontation to understand people’s views. Unfortunately, Gen Muntu takes long to reply or act on government oppression.
You seem to have a bone of contention with Gen Muntu...
Not at all. Actually, I didn’t support him last time when he contested against Hon Nathan Nandala-Mafabi. Yet he appointed me the deputy opposition chief whip. He is a fine gentleman and holds no grudges at all. That’s a credit to him. However, we have different philosophies on how to take power.