Citizensí Baraza on Constitutional Change in Uganda

Honourable Eddy Kwizera making a presentation at the Baraza at CBR

CBR hosted a citizens’ Baraza on ‘Constitutional Change in Uganda’. The Baraza was triggered by the proposal to remove age limits for workers in the Public Service, especially the Judiciary. The Baraza attracted a range of actors including politicians, academicians, students and the Civil Society fraternity.

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Speakers at the Baraza included Honourable Eddy Kwizera, Member of Parliament Bufumbira East County; Honourable Betty Kamya Turwomwe, President of Uganda Federal Alliance Party; Prof Oloka Onyango, of Law at Makerere University and a Senior Research Fellow at CBR; and Mr. Gwada Tao Ogot, from Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CEDU) Secretariat.

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Giving the welcome remarks at the baraza, Prof. Josephine Ahikire, the Executive Director, CBR noted that the word Baraza is a Kiswahili word which means a veranda; a veranda not just for its own sake, but a space where conversations take place. Conversations at a Baraza are not limited as long as people believe that the issues to be deliberated upon are important to them. “It is an open market of ideas without formalities as people seek to get all these ideas and package them in a way that creates some sense of a way forward and some sense of collective responsibility as citizens.” Accordingly the idea of a Baraza was based on the need for citizens to debate constitutional reforms, in an attempt to nurture a vibrant political culture.

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On his part, Richard Ssewakiryanga, Executive Director of the Uganda National NGO Forum, noted that there was need for uncausalising the constitution to enable the citizens in Uganda to take back Uganda. “We can no longer do things and hope that things will happen on us. The point we have reached in terms of how governance is constructed and how participation is articulated seems to suggest that as citizens, we need to do more to fully show our ownership of this country,” he said.

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Prof. Joe Oloka Onyango introduces the debate at the Baraza

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The Keynote Speaker, Prof. Joe Oloka Onyango, reflected on the situation of the state of Uganda today and noted that Uganda was in a state of panic.

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He went on to say: “We are grappling with a number of ‘panics’  that are resulting in to crises! There is the Land Panic which is characterized by evictions that are taking place all over the place; a Sexual Panic or the Moral Panic reflected most extremely by the Anti Homosexuality Bill but also by the proposal to ensure that our ladies and daughters don’t wear miniskirts; a Police Panic as evidenced by the establishment of a police post at the Kalerwe-Kyebando roundabout (simply because the police needs to monitor the movements of a certain gentleman around that side of town); and, a military panic.” To Oloka, all this was reflective of the Constitutional Panic in Uganda. Accordingly, the panic of succession, commonly referred to as the Muhoozi project, was uncalled for because the political reading showed that the constitution was amended to remove term limits for Museveni not for his son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba. “The succession planning therefore is for Museveni to succeed Museveni until kingdom come,” he noted.

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Hon. Eddie Kwizera thanked CBR for organizing the Baraza and noted that there is need for professionals such as lawyers to perform their role of guiding matters of constitutionalism.
\r\n Ogot presented a highlight of the potential for electoral reform in the region in general and Uganda in particular.

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Hon. Beti Kamya-Turwomwe, President of Uganda Federal Alliance, emphasized that the torch should flash on the right spot as opposed to dealing with symptoms. And in her view the fundamental question lay with Article 98 of the Constitution that gives enormous power to the President of the country.
\r\n On the whole, all speakers and contributors noted the need for a continuous debate on constitutionalism in Uganda.

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We need to be organised- Women activist

1st, October 2014

Women activists have been asked to form an organized front to advocate for their causes other than having several voices speaking differently.

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\r\n This was said by Jane Alisemera Babiiha (former Bundibugyo MP) during a gender and political settlement event at Center for basic research, in Kololo.

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