Beyond term limit and age limit: The Museveni-Besigye connection

Friday October 06 2017

Today, it is the age-limit constitutional crisis debate in Uganda.
Yester- year, it was the term- limit constitutional crisis debate, in Uganda. In both scenarios, some Ugandans called for a referendum on the matter. And, in both “ situations, the Uganda national Constitution provides room for constitutional amendment of both articles by Parliament.
Yester- year, Museveni (not the president), seemed not visibly bothered by both now thorny provisions in the Constitution - term limit and age- limit; for Museveni, for a long time, was not raising his voice on the two issues (like he has done on land matters of late).
But today, Museveni, though not openly, seem to take keen interest in the issues of term-limit and age-limit - and the debate going on, on the two issues.
Yester-year, Kizza Besigye (it is alleged), during the Constituent Assembly (CA) debate 20 years ago, did not support the inclusion in the Constitution of the provision on age-limit. Today, he is opposed to the removal from the Constitution of the provision on age-limit.
The above scenarios point to the bitter fact that people, and people’s views, change over time and in changing circumstances.
However, they also point to the Museveni, - Besigye nexus in these political matters. They point to a kind of hide-and-seek game between Museveni and Besigye; which at the end raises so much dust.
Unfortunately, when and where two elephants (bulls) fight, it is the grass that suffers.
There may be something behind the curtain between Museveni and Besigye, which is beyond term-limit and age-limit provisions in the Constitution, that prompts this apparent political turmoil and debate.
Remember, removal of term-limit from the Constitution was introduced only after Besigye had stood against Museveni in a presidential election and lost to the latter. And he (Besigye) then vowed to stand again, presumably, after Museveni’s Constitutional two-term-limit would have lapsed.
Also remember that the debate on the removal of the age limit provision from the Constitution, has been introduced now, after Besigye stood against Museveni in the 2016 presidential election and for the fourth time, lost to the latter.
And he (Besigye) allegedly vowed to stand again, presumably, after Museveni’s Constitutional 75 years age limit would have lapsed by the 2021 presidential election time.
Most importantly, remember, it is alleged, that there have been protracted mutual differences between Museveni and Besigye for a long time now, which, as alleged, prompted Besigye to come out boldly and stand against his Bush War ally, with a resolve to oust him (Museveni) from the presidency, which he (Besigye) has failed to achieve in the last four attempts.
It looks like (it may not be true) the two elephant’s (Museveni and Besigye) are nursing personal vendettas against one another, which are sought to be settled by a political score in a political game.
In this case, term limit came in then, and age-limit comes in now only as a means to the end or as a delivery-van to the ultimate goal, in the bilateral fight.
Imagine if the scenario of the Museveni-Besigye nexus were not there; probably the term-limit and the age limit constitutional amendment crisis would not have arisen, or otherwise, it would have been handled differently, probably through a referendum;
Therefore, try to look behind the curtains and try to read between the lines and try to see beyond the nose so as to be able to focus correctly on the real source of the problem (not the apparent symptoms), to be able to come up with a more lasting solution.
In doing so, do not ignore the Museveni- Besigye vendetta-based nexus.
It is a crucial variable to look at in the term-limit and age-limit constitutional crisis and political debate, now going on in Uganda.
What if both Museveni and Besigye finally left the stage? Because, its seems, none of the two is willing to leave the stage until the other does so.

Mr Ziritwawula Joseph a former Mayor of Kampala.