LUKWAGO, OTAFIIRE CLASH OVER CONST’NAL REVIEW COMMISSION MOTIVE
By John V Sserwaniko
Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has disputed motive behind the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) which President Museveni and his Minister Kahinda Otafiire are putting in place to collect public views on what to change in the 1995 Constitution. A big name lawyer with credible sources in government, Lukwago says the CRC is being used to recapture what Museveni’s ruling NRM party lost in the Mbale Constitutional Court petition-and that is extension of tenure of Parliament from 5 to 7 years. “You know that’s why we are leaders. I have previously been warned colleagues of the terrible things these [government] people have been cooking to reverse the little gains we made in Mbale. That’s why we are leaders. We are able to use our own sources in government to understand things which the ordinary people who elect us may not be privy to unless we tell them,” Lukwago said. “We beat them in Mbale on the two year extension and they didn’t appeal. Why? They had plan B and they have been contemplating on how to erode the gains we made against them. This CRC is what they are going to use to manipulate the process to appear the proposal [for 7 years] is from the people. The report will make that recommendation of 7 year purporting that it’s a proposal from the people but they won’t stop there. To make MPs seem innocent, they will subject the matter to a referendum which they will rig as usual. Then the matter goes to Parliament just for rubber-stamping and they will get exactly the same thing in the end.” Speaking on Dr. Sam Kazibwe’s popular program on CBS radio Tuesday evening, Lukwago claimed he had credible information to the effect that willing NRM MPs were each given Shs40m prior to passing the Magyezi Bill scrapping age limits for the presidential candidates. And that shortly before going to Kiboga to celebrate what he called “raping of the Constitution,” another Shs100m was released as additional token to same MPs. “I have much more information because we surely have professional sources inside there but I won’t say everything here out of courtesy this being Kabaka’s radio. I will speak will restraint but there is much more that we know. After being given all that money, what remained pending is the promise of an additional two years and it’s something the leadership has been fidgeting with to avoid appearing to have conned the MPs,” he said. “They had expected we wouldn’t appeal Mbale ruling and the decision by Supreme Court to start the hearing in January too has thrown them off balance. We aren’t letting them rest using the legal and political approaches. They have the pressure from the EC because Justice Byabakama [EC Chairman] wants to release his road map because time has run out. For 2016 the old EC had the road map out by 2014, two years to voting day. It’s now 2019 and nominations are for late 2020. So time isn’t there and Justice Byabakama is telling them I must roll out my road map.”
Lukwago said that besides getting the additional 2 years for the MPs, President Museveni wants to use the CRC processes to find justification to skip holding elections in 2021. “All these processes ordinarily take a lot of time and yet they must precede the holding of elections. They will tell you we aren’t ready because the CRC is still gathering views and so on and so forth,” Lukwago said. “This is why I’m always on this show cautioning my colleagues in the opposition that this isn’t time to begin discussing who will be the candidate. There is much more that requires concerted efforts for us to prepare against the machinations of these people because they never act in good faith.” Lukwago likened those insisting on announcement of the Presidential candidate at this time to a footballer preparing to score goals against an adversary team that has capacity to connive with the referee to shift goal posts in the middle of the game. “Yes your best scorer gets ready to score the goals but what if you wake up when the goal posts have been shifted? In our case our opponent has even the means to prevail on the referee to ensure there is no pitch where the match takes place. What if you wake up and they say the game is off because the pitch isn’t available anymore? These people are capable of all that and we are saying lets concentrate our efforts on insisting on fair play; a game that is based on rules that apply to all players equally.” Lukwago said, all this notwithstanding, there is still light at the end of the tunnel. “Past experiences have shown that we can overwhelm these people and force them to abandon some of their mischievous plans and to do that we must speak in unison to condemn and expose whatever mischief they are planning; otherwise if we begin now fighting over who becomes candidates, our voice will become weakened and they will succeed with all their mischief. Let’s not play into their trap,” said Lukwago adding that the Mbale experience had exposed him to many nasty things to “learn more about how mischievous these people can be.” He said since Mbale, his network of intelligence information gathering from the government size has become more deepened making it possible for him to access credible leaks from the State political and legal operatives’ secret meetings.
LUKWAGO NOT ALONE;
Some have since suspected that the CRC process is being used by the President to diminish the importance of the National Dialogue as many of the participants making strong points will simply be told “take that one to the CRC.” Yet however honestly the state will act this time round, the matter will somehow end up being voted upon in Parliament after cabinet studies the CRC report and comes up with a white paper. Parliament is a very comfortable place for the President and his squad of political tacticians because they are certain not to be surprised by anything. The NRM numbers are simply unassailable and this partly explains the skepticism many have directed towards this process proposed to be headed by Prof Kiddu Makubuya. Several lawyers reached by this news website associated with Lukwago’s views but the most intriguing was a veteran Muganda lawyer renowned for his strong support for the President. Uncomfortable being quoted, the veteran lawyer disputed the composition of the CRC. “We have always supported Museveni but we are beginning to become uncomfortable with the direction he is taking. This is a national process and it’s very important but how do you stuff the CRC with young girls and your own supporters? People who have lost elections before. Makubuya is intelligent but his record as Attorney General wasn’t that impressive and we know what peers in Law Society thought about him. Why not Fred Ruhindi if it must be your former minister? I see children on the list and this is about trivializing the constitution,” said the lawyer. “This is an act of dishonesty to undermine the national dialogue. Museveni will be saying that one no take it to the CRC because some of us intended to propose reduction of his powers as President…My other concern is where the President gets powers to choose the CRC. I don’t see that in Article 99 which provides for executive authority. Parliament should be the one to name the CRC.” The same lawyer said many articles of the 1995 Constitution, including Article 99, haven’t yet been operationalized by an Act of Parliament. “Kenya has good lessons for us to learn because before ratifying their new constitution, 49 laws were passed to enable its implementation otherwise a specific law operationalizing Article 99 would clearly guide on the powers of the President.” A Makerere law don claimed Makubuya is unsuitable because the law school recently rejected proposals to re-admit him back as a classroom lecturer.
Reached for a comment, Justice & Constitutional Affairs Minister Kahinda Otafiire dismissed Lukwago’s views as mere speculation. “I think my young brother needs urgent psychiatric help because I find his allegations very wild and speculative. He says we want to use CRC for justification not to hold elections in 2021? What if that becomes the proposal of the people for whom this process is being put in place? My understanding is that the CRC will consider people’s views and how does Erias Lukwago know what the outcome is going to be? How does he know which views people are going to give?” Otafiire also regretted the fact that what he called inaccurate media reports had created so much anxiety. “By the way that newspaper report was inaccurate. It’s not entirely true. Somebody stole a letter from the office and got it published but it’s nothing but mere proposal. It has to go to cabinet first and that list is actually not true,” he said adding that nominees who got excited “might live to regret why they celebrated prematurely.” According to Daily Monitor, the CRC nominees include Kiddu Makubuya (Chairman), Francis K Butagira (vice chair), Wandera Ogaro, Lillian Aber, Nusura Tiperu, city lawyer Paul Wanyoto, Richard Angulia, (Deputy DPP) Charles Elem Ogwal, Kamdi Byonabye, ex-Kisoro MP Sarah Nyirabashitsi (minister Mateke’s daughter), Martha Katuntu, Kabogoza Musoke, LDC’s Dr. Diana Musoke and Rev Amos Turyahabwe. For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755.