Following recent attacks and threats on individuals who have expressed divergent views on constitutional matters, ministers in a Friday August 4 cabinet sitting set resolutions that will provide an atmosphere that accommodates wide-ranging debates.
A statement issued by Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Frank Tumwebaze, reveals that ministers are particularly concerned with the increasing wave of politically motivated intolerance among sections of the political class resulting into physical attacks on targeted people.
A few days ago, Kassanda South MP Simeo Nsubuga was humiliated with slaps and punched by a one William Ntege alias Kyuma kya Yesu at Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi’s 24th Coronation anniversary in Mubende District.
The legislator is among lawmakers working tooth and nail to ensure Parliament amends the presidential age limit clause in the Constitution.
Similar cases of extreme intolerance involving actual physical attacks and/or assault have been reported against Ibrahim Abiriga, Betty Kamya and Kahinda Otafiire.
According to Tumwebaze, “This is not only unacceptable but criminal.”
Basing on the above, the Cabinet has therefore among other resolutions “directed the Police and other law enforcement agencies to firmly take action against any person alleged to be intimidating and/or attacking any other citizen on account of his/her divergent views.”
Nobody, Senior, Junior or Ordinary citizen, the statement reads, is above the law.
The ministers also condemned such extreme cases of intolerance that are resulting into episodes of violence.
“NO one has a right to intimidate another person on account of his/her views. Government therefore cautions all those in the habit of taking the law in their hands to stop forthwith,” reads in part the message.
Tumwebaze, in a statement maintains that “political disagreements and contestations do not need to degenerate into violence or physical confrontations,” adding “that is cowardice and criminal.”
Ugandans, in that regard, are encouraged to continue freely expressing themselves in accordance with the laws of the land. Government will protect the rights of all.
Chapter 18 of the Constitution and specifically Article 259, the statement indicates, provide for a mechanism of amending the Constitution and therefore gives anyone an opportunity to express him/herself and propose any amendments.
“It is therefore criminal for anybody to issue threats against any citizen on account of holding certain political views.”
Regarding leaders who use media platforms to “issue threats against others with different views”, Cabinet has called upon the media and all journalism practitioners to always moderate their debates within the confines of the minimum broadcasting standards.
“They should not allow or tolerate guests who trade insults and use threatening language bordering on violence against others whose views they disagree with. A democratic culture can only take root if every citizen is free to express him/herself without any threat from anybody,” says Tumwebaze, in a statement.
In conclusion, the ICT Minister reiterated that “government has not yet discussed the issue of age limit as contained in article 102(b), saying “the ongoing discussions in the public domain are citizen driven.”