Political leaders have weighed in on the landmark judgment delivered yesterday by the Constitutional Court in the petition that challenged the passing of the constitutional amendments which among others scrapped the Presidential age limit.
The reaction to the ruling by the 5 Justices of the Constitutional Court including Deputy Chief Justice, Alphonse Owiny-Dollo from politicians was mixed, some applauding it entirely, while others in part.
Court upheld the amendment of Article 102 (b) of the Constitution to remove the Presidential age cap with only one Justice (Kenneth Kakuru) ruling otherwise. But the bench was in agreement that the extension of the term of MPs and local government elected leaders from 5 to 7 years was done in contravention of the law.
Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago who was part of the petitioners said that although he was frustrated and disillusioned by the ruling, the exercise was not in futility.
“Glad the Constitutional Court has embraced and incorporated in our constitutional jurisprudence the novel doctrine of “Basic Structure”; a very instrumental tool that informed judicial activism in a number of commonwealth jurisdictions like India, S. Africa, Belize etc,” Lukwago tweeted Thursday.
“I’m only disappointed that they shied away from applying it to all the provisions of the impugned Age Limit Act and strike it down. Nonetheless, it provides a firm foundation for the next course of action,” he added.
On his part, Democratic Party President, Norbert Mao expressed displeasure that majority of the Justices on the bench validating the process that repealed the Presidential age limit.
He accused the four Justices of circumlocution for what he termed as “fear of the dreaded leopard”.
“Another nail in the coffin of constitutionalism. They all descended on the east target of MP’s seven year term,” he said, adding that the impugning of the extended tenure of MPs was a win.
Kyaaka county MP, Kafuuzi Jackson of the NRM said that the constitutional court “has stamped it’s mark of approval on our original bill as presented by Hon Magyezi in it’s entirety”.
“Let’s be happy to have achieved our original intentions and lose no sleep over that which we (MPs) did not properly and procedurally do. Thank you all,” Kafuuzi said.
On the issue of the extension of term, Kafuuzi admitted that the particular provisions were never subjected to the committee stage nor did MPs consult with the voters about them as required by Article 1 of the Constitution.
James Acidri, the Member of Parliament for March East county said he was happy with the court ruling which he said was a good lesson for MPs (dealers) “who decided to sell the voice of their electorate with the promise of an extension of two years on their current term”.
The ruling, he said, will set a precedent for future leaders to always represent the views of those ones who give them the mandate to lead, but not selfish interests.
Kampala Central legislator, Muhammad Nsereko in his reaction said the judgement was an indication that Uganda still has a long way to go.
“Majority of the Ugandans are clearly in pain and that’s why we have seen no celebrations at all from the so called Majority who supported this ‘crazy law’,” MP Nsereko said.
He however credited Justice Kenneth Kakuru who ruled that the entire process through which all the amendments were passed was unconstitutional.