Youth MPs under the Uganda Parliamentary Forum for Youth affairs have defended their positions in parliament saying they are constitutionally provided for. They also argue that they are beneficial to the youths, who form the bulk of the population.
This follows a motion tabled before parliament by Abdu Katuntu, the shadow attorney general last month calling for constitutional amendments, which seeks among other things to scrap special interest seats from the country’s electoral system.
In the proposal Katuntu suggested that youth MPs should be elected by adult suffrage to show their abilities.
However, the youth MPs dismissed his arguement. Monica Amoding, the national female Youths MP has defended their position saying that they represent the biggest percentage of the population.
She notes that three quarters of Uganda’s population are youth, who must be represented in parliament to have their views listened too.
Evelyn Anite, the Northern Youth MP and NRM Caucus Spokesperson, says President Yoweri Museveni was not stupid to introduce affirmative action adding that they are not going anywhere anytime soon.
Anite said their services are vital citing her recent visit to Namibia where she was invited by the president there to train their youth to take up parliamentary positions.
She said they are also planning to table a motion that will set an age limit for people serving in parliament to 55 years, saying the elderly just sleep in the house.
Peter Ogwang, the Eastern Youth MP wonders why some legislators would advocate for scrapping of special group representation when they are the same people who passed it. He notes that none of the Youth MPs appeared on the list of non performers that was published recently in the media.
Samuel Kavuma, the Chairperson National Youth group says the proposal to scrap youth MPs is gallery politics. He argues that there are many important things, mostly affecting youths that need to be addressed such as youths unemployment.
He says this in particular requires youth to be represented and question why the shadow attorney general would think of proposing to scrap the position of youth MPs.
Article 78, section 2 of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda provided for special interest representation of women, youth, workers, army and persons with disabilities, which was reviewed ten years after its establishment.
The same section proposes a review of relevance for the representation of special interest groups every after 10 years with the view of retaining, increasing or abolishing such representation. This representation was recently reviewed by the 8th Parliament in 2010 and Parliament affirmed its relevancy.