Pandemonium broke out yesterday at the burial of deputy chairman of the National Planning Authority Dr. Abel Rwendeire, as Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa engaged in a heated exchange with mourners over the issue of the Presidential Age Limit.
The exchange was sparked by Rev.Fr. Hebert Agaba — who was presiding over the funeral at Kibuzigye Primary school playground – who took time to recognize Rev. Fr. Gaetano Batanyenda, who has been vocal over the past weeks in condemning the planned amendment to remove the age limit from the constitution.
Fr Agaba praised Gaetano – who is also the chairperson for Kigezi Inter-Religious Council and the Priest of Kitanga Catholic Parish — for speaking his heart on the age limit issue, attracting an applause.
But this did not please Chief Whip Nankabirwa and when her turn to speak came, she made her stand clear.
Nankabirwa slammed Fr. Gaetano for misleading his followers and stressed that the amendment of Article 102 (b) is what the country needs.
The whip argued that the determination of one’s age limit is the responsibility of God and should be left to him and not men.
“God gave everyone their own age limit; and when it clocks, he takes them away. Therefore there is no need for age limits in the constitution,” she said. “Those wasting time, spending sleepless nights over the age limit should simply let God make the final decision.”
Nankabirwa’s statement however ,was not welcomed some mourners, who started murmuring and then broke into “Togikwatako” chants.
Fr. Batanyenda then leapt out of his seat and attempted to snatch the microphone from Nankabirwa but the whip declined to hand it over.
The man of God then decided to lay hands on the chief whip and prayed for her briefly, after which they made up and she rushed back to her seat.
Later, while speaking to Chimpreports, Fr. Gaetano said that Nankabirwa had witnessed first-hand how people exactly feel about the removal of the age limit.
Gaetano, who is also actively participating in the so-called Red Ribbon campaign aimed at blocking the constitutional amendment, vowed to continue using all platforms available to preach against it.
The Age Limit Bill, as it has come to be known,was introduced in Parliament last week by Hon Raphael Magezi and forwarded to the Legal Affairs Committee.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga sent Members of Parliament out to their constituencies to engage with their electorate to find out what they think about the matter. She warned that this matter must be decided with utmost consideration of the views of all Ugandans.
At the funeral, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda who was the chief mourner did not comment on the matter.