By Haji Nsereko Mutumba
On Monday 18th September 2017, The Council of Presidents of the Inter Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) convened at its Secretariat in Mengo under the chairmanship of His Eminence the Mufti of Uganda Shk. Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje issued a joint statement in regard to article 102(b) of the constitution of Uganda.
They issued a joint statement that was disseminated widely to the public using both digital/electronic and print media.
I am bringing this issue up now because of recent, politicians especially from the ‘togikwatako’ camp have been accusing religious leaders of silence on the debate regarding proposed amendment of article 102(b) of the Constitution of Uganda.
The togikwatako camp comprises of those politicians who are opposed to the proposed amendment of article 102(b).
In their Press Release, faith leaders stated as follows in one of the paragraphs;
“As religious leaders, it is our esteemed view that the issue of age limit is not a partisan issue to be monopolized by NRM and opposition politicians. The issue is national in character and the debate should be extended to the people of Uganda, as they are the sole constitutionally – mandated custodians of power to determine the destiny of our nation. The ‘people’s power’ is unequivocally bestowed upon them in Article 1 of the 1996 Constitution”.
What more do the opposition politicians want religious leaders to say?
In fact religious leaders should be commended for successfully recommending the wide spread consultation of the wanainchi which is now ongoing.
I would like to remind Ugandans that religious leaders do not fight but they guide; they recommend but do not command; they suggest but they don’t decide; they are not partial but impartial; their views are not political but spiritual.
In regard to the age limit issue, religious leaders have therefore fully played their part as spiritual leaders who preside over congregations of Ugandans who oppose, those who support and those who are on either side of the age limit campaign.
Therefore, those who expect religious leaders to take their sides on this issue are totally mistaken and should reconsider their positions.
This is the time for consultations; it is an opportunity for both sides to peacefully and responsibly convince the wanainchi on the issue at hand.
Consulting wanainchi is not telling them what to do but asking them to tell you what to do. Our Honourable Members of Parliament should be in a listening mode, not a talking, insulting and fighting mode as we have seen in the media.
Multiparty democracy is about tolerating multiple and sometimes opposing ideas. The party in power must tolerate those in opposition; likewise, those in opposition must tolerate the party in power.
When it comes to political contests, the opposition (government in waiting) must prove that it has what it takes to replace the sitting government, and I would like to remind the opposition politicians that to replace a sitting government under a democracy, you need the majority.
Fighting, intimidation, threatening and insulting your political opponents might not give you that majority, but dialogue, lawful and peaceful mobilisation of the wanainchi could give you the majority. The ball is in your hands.
The writer is the UMSC spokesperson.
He can be reached on pro.umsc[@]gmail.com