Teachers under their umbrella organization, the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU) have warned their representatives in Parliament to first consult them before taking a stand on the contentious age limit debate.
Teachers are represented by Workers MPs in Parliament but UNATU General Secretary James Tweheyo says none of their representatives have so far consulted them on the debate that courted controversy.
“To our representatives in Parliament, especially the workers; our expectation is simple, before you fully engage in that business, come and consult us. As workers, we have views and ideas, as workers you are our representatives there. You must also seek the views of the people you represent before you go into debating your personal views,” said Tweheyo in an interview.
He said whereas their representatives in the House on many occasions take decisions without consulting them, he warned that this time debate on lifting the age limit affects everyone and that all must be consulted to ensure that all the views are represented.
“This is a critical matter and I don’t think any individual Member of Parliament must take upon him or herself without consulting. Much as the Bill can be tabled, they must give sufficient time for the legislators to consult the public so that we the communities must tell them what we feel,” Tweheyo said.
Margaret Rwabushaija, the former UNATU chairperson, who joined the 10th Parliament on the union platform, could not respond to our query, saying she is sick.
“I am sick and sleeping and I need to rest,” she said.
Agnes Kunihira, one of the workers representatives, said she will start consulting the workers after the Bill is tabled in the House.
“I cannot consult the workers when I have not seen the bill, what do I consult them about? I will first get the copy of the bill, study the content and we shall present their views on their floor of Parliament”, she said in an interview.
The other Workers MPs; Arinaitwe Rwakajara, Charles Bakkabulindi and Sam Lyomoki were not available for comment.
Tweheyo also took a swipe at government for stifling free debate on the controversial plan to remove the age limit.
“Our position is that allow people to talk, don’t gag them allow both opposition and the movement members to speak, allow them to bring debate, to discuss it to throw it out or to accept it,” he said.
According to him, many Ugandans think it is not in the best interest that the Constitution is amended to only favour one person. He believes Ugandans must be give chance to decide what is best for them without being cajoled.
“I don’t think all MPs are unable to see the future. I don’t think the people of Uganda can fail to see the future. Our view is allow debate, our view is don’t gag the opposition from talking, our view is the members of parliament have a duty and responsibility to their constituencies and that they must consult the constituents.”
He said he is of the view that the age limit must be maintained to give stability to the country. To him, peaceful transfer of power must not elude Ugandans again as has been the case since independence.
“It is scientific that everybody must grow and when we grow, there are competencies which keep on losing and we must accept that. In my view we shouldn’t look at a single person like president Museveni to say he is now going to clock 75 and we do it in his interest,” he said.