Three Zimbabwean politicians yesterday joined widening opposition-led campaign rallies against the amendment of the Constitution to allow government take compulsory possession of private land and to remove the 75 upper age cap for presidential candidates.
The Zimbabwean legislators are from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC-T). They spoke at two city rallies; at Nakulabye in Lubaga division and Katwe in Makindye division.
“When I look at all of you here, I see fellow Africans, and if I mingled with you, it will be difficult for anyone to tell that I am a Zimbabwean. We as Africans have one problem; leaders that don’t want to leave power,” Abednico Bhebhe, the leader of opposition in the Zimbabwean parliament, told a cheering crowd at Nakulabye market.
Bhebhe went to the rally with two of his colleagues, Brian Tshuma, the MP for Wanga and Prince Dubeko Sibanda, the Babinga MP. Bhebhe spoke of his role during Zimbabwe’s independence struggle and accused his country’s 93-year-old president Robert Mugabe of reneging on the promises he made during the struggle.
“When we were fighting [for independence], he used to tell us that we were fighting for a government of the people, by the people and for the people. When he got to power, he changed and now wants to rule for life,” Bhebhe said, adding that Ugandans risk having a life president should Article 102(b) that caps the presidential age at 75 be changed.
“If you make a mistake and lift the age limit…because already you made a mistake when you allowed the [two] term limits to be removed, you will face the same problem we are facing in Zimbabwe.”
Bhebhe’s group was introduced at the rallies by his Ugandan counterpart Winfred Kiiza who said the Zimbabweans were motivated to join the campaign by the politics back home.
“They have a problem back home similar to the one we are likely to face and they are here to stand in solidarity with us as we carry on this fight against a person who wants to rule us forever,” Kiiza said.
They came into the country as part of the visiting Zimbabwean parliament’s Finance committee currently benchmarking the workings of the Finance, Planning and Economic Development committee of the Parliament of Uganda.
“They are our friends; they are part of a delegation of nine MPs from Zimbabwe who came to visit the Parliament of Uganda and when they got here, they learnt of this campaign and decided to join us,” Kiiza told The Observer on the sidelines of the rally at Nakulabye.
The opposition caucus under the Parliamentary Forum for Constitutional and Human Rights yesterday began its second leg of campaigns against the constitutional amendments covering Lubaga North and Makindye West constituencies in Kampala before taking the campaign to Kira municipality in Wakiso district later today, Friday.
According to Kiiza, the three Zimbabwean opposition legislators will also join today’s rallies in Kira municipality. Like in Masaka last Friday, truckloads of police officers surrounded the venues of the two city rallies. Several armed security personnel looked on as the MPs’ campaign drifted from the bill before parliament to amend Article 26, and talked about the growing agitation within NRM to amend Article 102(b).
“I will not say much but I want to tell you that I don’t like the leader in Uganda and he must go,” Sibanda said to a cheering crowd.
Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago joined MPs Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda (Kira Municipality), Medard Lubega Sseggona (Busiro East), Florence Namayanja (Bukoto East), Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East) and Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala) at the rallies.
Others were, Mathias Mpuuga (Masaka Municipality), Francis Zzaake (Mityana Municipality), Latif Ssebaggala (Kawempe North), Emmanuel Ssempala Kigozi (Makindye Ssaabagabo Municipality), Joseph Gonzaga Ssewungu (Kalungu West), Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West) and Moses Kasibante (Lubaga North).
The MPs argued that any amendments to Article 26 to allow government take compulsory possession of private land minus compensation of owners would also require an amendment to Article 237, which puts land ownership in the hands of Ugandans.