Opposition Members of Parliament today launched anti-age limit removal campaign activities ahead of tabling of a report on the Constitutional Amendment No.2 Bill 2017 next week.
Addressing journalists at Parliament, Butambala MP Muwanga Kivumbi said that the new campaign code-named 'Togikwatako week' and will run for the next seven days. "We are declaring next week as 'Togikwatako' week", Kivumbi said.
Loosely translated to mean 'don't touch' the Constitution, 'Togikwatako' is a term that was coined by politicians opposed against the proposed scrapping of the presidential age limit. They eventually selected red ribbons as a symbol of their defiance against the proposed scrapping of Article 102(b), which currently caps the presidential age at between 35 and 75 years.
Kivumbi says that for the next one week starting on Monday they will 'paint the entire country red'. The 'Togikwatako week' activities include calling on the electorate to persistently call their MPs and warn them against lifting the presidential age limit, visiting homes of MPs, and dressing in red colour attires from head to toes.
“The country is going to be painted red and [police boss] Gen Kale Kayihura can’t stop the wind that is going to blow in the country,” Kivumbi also internal affairs shadow minister said.
"We have also ensured that a group of activists are going to be calling phones of MPs, better leave them on, hundreds and thousands of people are going to call MPs. By the way be free to call them and tell them 'Gikwateko' [touch it] but we are sure if they listen to voice of Ugandans, majority are going to be telling them 'Togikwatako", Kivumbi added.
He further said that they are going to mount a parade along Parliamentary Avenue on the day the report will be tabled before parliament so that every MP who enters parliament to debate it shall have a guard of honor by Ugandans telling them to resist the proposed amendment.
The MPs including Rukungiri Municipality MP Roland Mugume, Rubaga North MP Moses Kasibante, Kalungu West MP Joseph Ssewungu, Kawempe North MP Latif Ssebaggala and Kyotera Woman MP Robinah Ssentongo among others vowed to mobilise constituents for a parade along Parliament Avenue where MPs headed to Parliament will be met with a crowd of voters ahead of the anticipated tabling of the report next Tuesday.
It is expected that the Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi’s 'age limit' bill next week.
"Every Ugandan of all works of life and of all persuasion we’re requesting you beginning Monday the colour of dressing is red. This time all people of Uganda are being asked to add whatever they can in their own smallness to show that they are for ‘Togikwatako’.
Businesses will be closed, there will be a series of activities. By the way we’re going to have a daily press conference up to Tuesday. We’ll be briefing you, some actions we cannot announce them now because of the nature of what they’re but we have now really rallied", Kivumbi said.
The MPs warned the Parliamentary police and Sergeant-at-Arms that they don't expect any foreign security operatives at parliament next week as the case was in September during the tabling of the presidential age limit motion.
"This Parliament is a temple, we do not expect to see SFC [Special Forces Command], and we do not expect a barricade around this Parliament. And we want open voting, not secret voting. We even expect the Office of the Speaker to be fair, we don't expect other excuses we got that people were deployed here without our knowledge." said Kivumbi.
According to Article 262 of the Constitution, at the second and third readings of the bill, NRM needs the support of not less than two-thirds of all members of parliament.
MPs warn police, UCC
The opposition MPs also appealed to police not to interrupt their planned week-long campaign, saying that Ugandans will be exercising their constitutional right of defending the Constitution. Kivumbi claimed that the ongoing police operations within the city and its outskirts are aimed at intimidating residents.
"Under the Public Order Management Act (POMA) there’s a provision called spontaneous gatherings. We’re not organising any rallies, the people of Uganda are going to come up in their own way and the law protects them because we’re not saying they are going to come in thousands. They are not going to demonstrate on that day, the people of Uganda are simply going to walk to Parliament one by one not even in a group", Kivumbi said.
Adding; "Simply go to the next trading centre in Buhweju and watch TV. People of Uganda will simply wait for their MP to make for them a parade as they enter Parliament in their own way. So the police should be informed that. Police should keep law and order, they should go to banks and ensure that there is no disruption, they should go to shop and ensure nobody interferes. They should leave Ugandans with the constitutional right to participate and to influence the affairs of their country."
Rubaga North MP, Moses Kasibante appealed to Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to leave Ugandans debate the age limit matter peacefully without gagging the media and stopping live broadcast next week. Prior to the tabling of the 'Age Limit' motion and bill, UCC directed Television stations not to broadcast live the events in Parliament. The move drew angry reactions from media freedom activists.
The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee chaired by the West Budama South MP Jacob Oboth-Oboth embarked on the process of drafting the report on the Constitutional (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2017 on Wednesday after meeting President Yoweri Museveni. The committee is locked up at Lake Victoria Serena Golf Resort-Kigo in Wakiso district.