It is true that Uganda’s Member of Parliament for Bufumbira East, Eddie Kwizera, has proposed that the retirement age for the Chief Justice of Uganda be increased from 70 to 75. The story seemed unreal when it broke, and at first I linked it to an earlier story in Daily Monitor that revealed which MPs had been quiet or ineffective or useless or something in the recent past.
Then, it turned out that the reports were serious
because there is video evidence and people have been talking about it.
The entire world seems to be engulfed by protests, revolts and riots all led by groups of youth who are complaining about the lack of opportunities and a growing gap between the rich and the poor. Even here in Kampala, where Kwizera most probably typed up the Bill/proposal/Act/research paper (so many media reports=so many names for this thing), there is grumbling and rumbling.
We don’t have recent accurate, census-led statistics to quote without fear or prejudice, but one New Vision report said Uganda’s life expectancy is 54.4 years, 78% of the country is below the age of 30, and that 80% of these are unemployed – statements that have been repeated often enough to be called facts, and which we will verify in 2014 at the next Census (feel free to visit http://www.ubos.org where the Vision of the Uganda Bureau of Statistics is revealed as “To become a Centre of Excellence in Statistical Production”.)
So how is it possible that with the world in turmoil because of this very same issue, this representative of people in Kisoro, is proposing to keep old men in jobs for longer?
I also can’t ask Kwizera’s constituents but I refuse to believe that Bufumbira East or Kisoro in its entirety to be full of 70-year olds demanding that their representative increases their employment opportunities by way of this legislation.
The reaction of the opposition is also confounding; as usual, their focus went straight to President Museveni and “fears” that he is behind this in order to stay in power. How is this still their most important issue instead of appealing to the youth for their votes? It amazes me that they are sticking to the tried-and-failed strategy of winning the Presidency by way of an election petition against an NRM Victory, but then what do I know about politics?
Nothing obviously, otherwise I would understand the report in The New Vision (hard copy – there is no online trace of their report) saying that ‘Independent’ MPs Gerald Karuhanga, Mariam Nalubega and Mathias Mpuuga held a Press Conference with the Democratic Party’s Joseph Ssewungu and Muwanga Kivumbi to “accuse” Kwizera of drafting the bill.
I was confused by this being an “accusation” because that gave the impression that by drafting a bill Kwizera was doing something wrong – see? I don’t understand politics at all; going by the way many MPs operate, perhaps drafting legislation is not in their terms of reference.
Reading the story again very, very carefully, I realised that the accusation was that the proposal was strictly tailored to amending the rules for the Chief Justice.
It still wasn’t clear why it was an “accusation” when the bill, according to 256lately.com
, is a) titled, ‘the Judicial Officers Vacation Office Act, 2013’; b) signed by Kwizera! c) (quoting) “intended to… make provisions (sic!) for the age at which the Chief Justice, deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice of Appeal and the Principle Judge of the High Court may retire or vacate office; and for related matters.”
Eh – perhaps that would
be wrong/awkward/odd, and just as I was beginning to kind-of somehow understand a little of their argument, the story went, “Karuhanga said the move is a precursor to change of the presidential age limit.”
This just reminded me of the saying that if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem will appear to be a nail.
But back to age and wisdom, the arguments being put forward by Kwizera and others include the gem by acting Chief Justice Deputy Chief Justice Stephen Kavuma, who said, and I bet he was misquoted: “In the USA, once you’re appointed a Supreme court judge, you serve until death or when you voluntarily retire…”
So what about stuff like presidential term limits? Perhaps the ‘Independent’ or opposition politicians should have jumped down this throat instead of the one they chose?
If you read the other arguments as they are presented in the media, without the context of the atmosphere (including weather, backdrops and the ambiance of the room in which they were presented), simply read as stupid.
For example, one position went, you and I would be more comfortable being operated upon by a doctor with a lot of experience than one who is a fresh graduate. This is true. I certainly would prefer my chances of surviving surgery if it were being handled by a knowledgeable, experienced doctor, than a 25-year old with a hangover OR A 75-YEAR OLD WITH SHAKY HANDS, POOR EYESIGHT AND A TENDENCY TO FALL ASLEEP WITHOUT WARNING MID-ACTIVITY!
At that time, President Museveni had suggested that the retirement age be lowered to 50 so that the youth could get into government service as the old men and women would be ejected quicker.
And the same Henry Kajura, being challenged by journalists over this matter in that video
said that at his age he was the most hardworking in his ministry: “Age doesn’t matter. You can be useless when you are twenty. Or fifteen…”