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By John V Sserwaniko

Senior city lawyer Peter Walubiri has spoken out on the 14 Ugandans nominated by Justice Minister Kahinda Otafiire to constitute the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) to collect Ugandans’ views on changes they wish to see made on the 1995 Constitution. In an interview with news website, UPC-leaning Walubiri advises equally opposition-leaning lawyer Wandera Ogaro to decline the nomination “to avoid being used to sanitize and legitimize a deliberately faulty exercise meant to ease pressure and consolidate Mr. Museveni’s personal rule.” This specifically is what Walubiri said: “My friend Ogaro shouldn’t soil his record to join that Commission. It’s suicidal and sucked by regime functionaries meaning even if he has good intentions, he can’t prevail. There won’t be consensus on what is right but majority will win. He will have no impact. He should learn from Prof Fredrick Sempebwa who was lured to lead an ill-intentioned review Commission only for his good record to be used to lend credibility to an otherwise faulty process. His time was totally wasted and Museveni used the fact that people knew him [Sempebwa] to be credible.” Walubiri said legacy is very important and for people like Ogaro who have already had chance to serve in public life before, legacy is all they can now work for and preserve. “His legacy will be served better by declining rather than accepting that appointment,” Walubiri said. We sought Ogaro’s response on what he thinks of Walubiri’s advice and the man from Namayingo was unusually hostile the moment we mentioned the subject we were calling to discuss with him. “Please leave me alone because I’m a private citizen enjoying my private space,” is all he said before going off the line. He never picked the subsequent calls from us.

Senior city lawyer Peter Walubiri


Walubiri says Ugandans shouldn’t expect much from the CRC because none of the things that can make it a helpful exercise can be allowed by the President. Listing these to include restoration of age and term limits and as well as diminishing the President’s powers in favor of a more strengthened Judiciary and Parliament, Walubiri said “its predictable they are going to create a façade and try to seem relevant by making many little recommendations to change many things but won’t touch on the most important aspects like diminishing the President’s powers and restoration of term and age limits.” He said even in case citizens call for term and age limits restoration and that is maintained in the Commission recommendations, it won’t bind anyone. “Procedurally how it works is that the government can accept and reject some of the recommendations. Those it agrees with are reduced in a white paper which is discussed and eventually a Constitutional amendment Bill is prepared,” Walubiri said before submitting on how Museveni would use this CRC process to make Ugandans think something is being done only for his true intentions to manifest long after 2021 elections. “By the way this process can go beyond election time and they will say there is no time now to look into the CRC findings. Let that wait until we are done with elections.”


Walubiri says if it’s not for the desire to access perks coming with holding such a public role or responsibility, even the likes of Prof Kiddu Makubuya (the proposed chairman) and Francis Butagira should have declined just like he wants Ogaro to do. “Butagira has been Speaker of Parliament and later on Ambassador. He is now chairman URSB. Why can’t all these roles combined be enough public service for him? When will he ever get time to look after his grandchildren? Prof Makubuya too has had more than enough opportunity to serve in public life. He has been Makerere lecturer, sat on the Odoki [CRC] Commission and the one that probed human rights violations. He has also been MP and Minister and as well as Attorney General though his tenure as AG was mired in controversies. He should decline this one too.” Walubiri says that whereas Ugandans can give views on anything, it’s very unlikely even if the demand is 100% things so dear to Museveni like removal of term and age limits plus diminishing the president’s powers can ever see light of day.


Kiddu Makubuya

Walubiri said besides sanitizing Museveni’s politics and create false hope in the population that something is after all being done to address their governance-related grievances, the CRC is an opportunity for Museveni to dangle patronage and find something “well paying” for his loyal supporters. Reflecting on a friend who rebuked him for questioning why the Odoki Commission on which he (friend) sat was taking forever to complete their report, Walubiri said the Commissioners are materially going to enjoy life including the comfort of brand new posh cars, armed VIP escorts, good remuneration, sleeping in nice hotels, free publicity and travel opportunities disguised as benchmarking trips abroad to countries where similar CRC processes have been undertaken. “All that would be okay if there were any good intentions in all this but there has been none before and there will still be none on this one. Odoki was the only time Ugandans were hopeful but all their hopes were betrayed when it turned to be a Museveni legitimization exercise and all the great things people demanded were ignored,” says the former Makerere law school lecturer. Prompted on the possibility of Ogoola dissenting from the majority and author a minority report in defense of what his conscience tells him to be the right thing, Walubiri said: “We had Prof Mudoola on the Odoki Commission who had serious commitment to cause change in the way things are done and power is structured in this country but he died mysteriously before the report was even complete. He was shot dead and yes someone confessed to the murder and got sentenced but I’m one of those who consider that matter remains unresolved in a manner satisfactory to all concerned.” Walubiri says the circumstances of Prof Mudoola’s death leave Ogaro with no option but to either keep quiet much of the time or accept to go along with the mediocrity of the majority and erode whatever good legacy there was about his name as an eminent citizen of Uganda. Making reference to figures spearheading the national dialogue just to gain visibility, shine and enrich their CVs, Walubiri warned Ugandans against being excited by people’s high-sounding titles and CVs. “They all become nothing once we begin to look into the substance of what they did while in those offices.” Giving the Makubuya example, Walubiri said: “Fine it’s great to be Attorney General and he was one but is there anything for which we can remember him that he did and radically changed the sector he was presiding over?” For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755.



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