By Mike Ssegawa
Today, we bring you what caused the Age Limit debate to die prematurely.
Most people still ask, including the ruling party’s chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa, where did MP Kafeero Sekitoleko got the age limit bill from?
Was it President Museveni blessing it, or, there were invisible hands at play.
First, the background.
The months of June and July were bad months for several Members of Parliament. Over a hundred of them had their petitions facing them in different courts across the country. It turned out that many MPs lost the petitions and therefore should be out of parliament, even now.
However, the legislators have provisions in the law to help them cling on, by appealing in the Court of Appeal, even the Supreme Court if one believes the lowers courts have not given them justice.
Therefore, after the High Court threw out the MPs, they appealed to the Court of Appeal to determine their fate. Rarely has the Appeals Courts overturned election rulings of the High Court, so, it means several of these MPs are destined to leave parliament or returned to the trenches for the by elections.
This is what most MPs fear. It is time and resource wasting to return to the campaigns. It also drains one mentally. So, one would rather find shortcuts to keep their hopes in Parliament alive, at least, till their term ends.
This is where the Bill is birthed.
Nakifuma MP Kafeero Sekitoleko is one of the several MPs whose fate still hangs in balance over an election petition.
So, Kafeero who became the poster boy of the Age Limit Bill, was concerned he would lose the petition, and therefore his parliamentary privileges. He decided to take the initiative to see how his case would be quashed at the level of Appeal.
In July, Kafeero, together with a youthful MP from Lango sub region (names withheld on purpose), went to see one of the most senior judges in the land. The judge is known to make rulings that favour the ruling party.
The two MPs explained to the judge their quagmire. After they were done, the judge told them he had understood their dilemma, and assured them that they should not to worry any further.
However, he had one request that would lead to the win-win deal.
The senior judge who is almost reaching retirement age, but still wants to be at the bench wondered if the MPs could push through an amendment of the age limits for civil servants which also included the judges.
The gentlemen were in agreement.
Kafeero went to start drafting the Bill. However, they had one more ally to get. This was one influential person at Parliament. This person has a bone to pick with the Deputy Speaker.
The MPs talked to this ally. However, the ally told the MPs that they could be helped on condition; they included a clause to tame Oulanyah who disturbs the ally’s peace.
The ally at Parliament even promised technical support in drafting the Bill.
The desperate MPs were left in a tight corner. They thought their Bill had two mountains to climb, and many fights to pick, which was not helping their cause.
However, the ally would not take their excuses, it is either they took the deal or not. They guys accepted.
The next thing was to introduce the Bill. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga had left Oulanyah in charge as she was away on official duties.
So, Oulanyah called the two MPs aside, and asked them if they thought he would allow their Bill to pass with an intention to chain him.
Practically, Oulanyah took the day. The MPs were desperate to take leave of absence. So, they dropped the clauses that would leave Oulanyah in chains.
Oulanyah on getting satisfied that his interests were safe, allowed Sekitoleko to introduce the motion, despite the opposition to it in Parliament.
When the ally heard about what transpired, he called the two poor MPs, asked them how they would snake him and introduce the Bill without their agreed clauses.
In the days that followed, the Bill died at the floor of the House.
So, the MPs are back to square one. They failed to solve the judge’s problem, and left betrayals in the House.