By Hanning Mbabazi
Kampala: President Yoweri Museveni is set to announce a cabinet reshuffle immediately after the Supreme Court ruling on the consolidated petition challenging the amendment of the Constitution to remove the presidential age limit, a reliable source has revealed.
A State House insider has told Spy Uganda that the President is eagerly waiting for the Supreme Court ruling to announce the cabinet that will lead Uganda into 2021. The awaiting Constitutional Amendment Bill was tabled by Igara West MP, Raphael Magyezi as a private member’s bill. Its enactment removed the upper age cap of 75 years and the lower age cap of 35 years for any citizen to contest for the highest office in Uganda. It also extended the term of office for parliament and Local Governments from five to seven years and reintroduced presidential term limits that had been removed in 2005.
Last year on July 26 the Constitutional Court in a majority decision of 4:1 allowed the removal of the presidential age limit and unanimously declared the extension of the term of members of parliament and local government as unconstitutional. Following the judgment, the petitioners; Lawyer Male Kiwanuka Mabiriizi, Winnie Kiiza, the former leader of opposition in parliament, Uganda Law Society, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, and four other legislators appealed to the Supreme Court, seeking to declare the entire Constitutional Amendment Act no.1 of 2018 null and void.
In a document released yesterday, Supreme Court set Thursday, April 18 for the ruling. “Take notice that the judgment of this appeal has been fixed for the 18th day of April 2019 at 10:00 am, in the fore/afternoon, or soon thereafter as court will convene. If no appearance is made, your pleader or someone by law authorized to act for you; judgment will be delivered in your absence”, a notice addressed to the petitioners reads.
As Uganda waits the much-anticipated ruling, President Museveni has prepared a list that may be subject to change as regards the court ruling. As it has been the norm, Museveni reshuffles cabinet after being sworn-in following an election and again in the second half of his term as he prepares for elections. NRM has already endorsed President Museveni as its sole candidate for 2021. Therefore, the new cabinet will signal his strategy and political direction for 2021. Also to be noted is that the new cabinet will also be tasked to break the momentum of opposition politicians like Kyadondo East legislator Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine and FDC’s Kizza Besigye, who is actively mobilizing the masses through the ‘People’s Government national taskforce’.
Among the new entrants in the cabinet will include those with indisputable loyalty to NRM and these reportedly include the architect of the constitutional amendment, Raphael Magyezi, former FDC iron lady Beatrice Anywar who recently attended NRM retreat in Kyankwanzi, among others. As a double-edged sword of proving the government’s tolerance to opposition views while weakening it, President Museveni has also reportedly included a number of opposition politicians in the cabinet reshuffle, just like he did in the current cabinet where Democratic Party’s Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi holds Children and Youth Affairs office while Uganda People’s Congress Betty Amongi is Lands Minister and Beti Kamya, the Kampala minister. Opposition’s Anita Among is reportedly on the list while People Power associates Abed Bwanika and Kassiano Wadri have also been courted for cabinet positions.