Former Minister Matembe sues parliment over lifting of term limits

By Ruth Anderah

Former Ethics and Integrity Minister Miria Matembe has dragged the 10th Parliament to the Constitutional Court accusing it of unlawfully removing presidential term limits during the Constitutional amendments of 2005.

Matembe together with other rights activists; Centre for Constitutional Governance and Legal Brains Trust say it was wrong for parliament to amend the law on term limits without first consulting the public through a referendum.

The petition received by the Constitutional Court registry today, is also accompanied by an affidavit signed by renowned law Professor Fredrick Ssempebwa who chaired the 2001 Constitutional Review Commission that was charged with studying and recommend changes to the 1995 Constitution.

Prof. Ssempebwa however contends that his commission did not recommend the review of Article 105 that concerns presidential term limits but rather referred the issue to be decided through a referendum on grounds that it touched on the foundation of the Constitution.

He adds that he chose to support Matembe in this move because the procedure of the enactment of the 2005 Constitution contravened democratic principles as the deletion of presidential term limits continues to bring Constitutional disorder in the country.

In her petition Matembe recounts the fraudulent acts that happened in parliament during the 2005 Constitutional Amendements where MPS were intimidated and bribed with 5 million shillings each on top of breaching parliamentary rules of secret ballot to ensure that the bribed MPs voted for removal of term limits.

She now wants court to declare as unconstitutional the act of parliament to amend the law on term limits to give way for people to contest for presidency for more than 2 terms as earlier prescribed by the 1995 Constitution.

Matembe’s petition comes at a time the NRM’s Raphael Magyezi is set to table a private members’ bill to debate the amendment of Article 102(b) to remove the presidential age limit without going for a referendum as provided for in Article 1(4) of the Constitution.

Court is yet to summon the Attorney General who has been named as the respondent to file his defence on behalf of parliament.