Gerald Karuhanga, a Ugandan Member of Parliament returned the $8,000 (Uganda Shs. 29m) deposited in his account “to help legislators consult with their constituents on the (age limit) bill.”
The bill seeks to remove the presidential age limit for presidency which is set at 75 years old. Current Uganda president, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is currently serving his fifth term and is 73 years old. If the bill is to stay, he will be unable to contest in 2021.
Karuhanga is the vice-chairman of the parliament’s public accounts committee (PAC). The money paid into the accounts of the MPs has been referred to as a “bribe”.
Karuhanga said, “In 1966, Milton Obote used guns to remove Sir Edward Mutesa from power. In 1971, Idi Amin used guns to remove Obote from power. In 1979, guns were used to remove Amin. In 1979, the military commission removed Yusuf Lule and Godfrey Binaisa in 1980. In 1985, Tito Okello used guns to remove Obote. And in 1986, Museveni used guns to remove Okello. This cycle must end. The age limit gives us the opportunity to end it.”
Karuhanga said he decided to return the money after consulting his voters on the matter. He said the money was a bribe meant to compromise legislators and voters.
Karuhanga and Bobi Wine are part of the legislators that have returned the money. Bobi issued a statement in which he stated taxpayers were losing about $3.6m (Ug. Sh 13b) for money paid out to 449 MPs.
Bobi said, “This money is being spent on a matter that does not need any consultation whatsoever. Ugandans made it clear long ago that they are opposed to a life presidency. They don’t want the Constitution tampered with in any way. In their small towns, villages and homes they have unanimously said “Togyikwatako.” The young and the old. Men, women and children. So what is there to consult about?”
Karuhanga addressed his letter to the Branch Manager of Centenary Bank. The letter read in part “While I was away, on the 24th October 2017 an authorised credit transaction of Uganda Shillings Twenty Nine Million (Ugx29,000,000) was effected on my account No. 3710000702. I hereby instruct you to transfer the said amount Ugx29,000,000 back to the creditor’s account.”
The resistance against the age limit has led to protests from Ugandan youths.
The fight against long serving leaders has swept the continent from Togo, to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda is not left out. Museveni has been in power since 1986.