The Archbishop of Kampala, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga has said that religious leaders have a constitutional right to talk about politics and issues of nation building, contrary to what President Yoweri Museveni believes.
The vocal cleric was responding to criticism by the President two days ago of some religious leaders whom he termed as “arrogant” for pretending to know everything.
Museveni in his New Year’s message had said; “Those who say they are religious should be humble. Do not pretend to know everything and talk with too much power. Some are full of arrogance. They talk authoritatively on everything without bothering to seek the truth”.
His outburst followed the passing of the highly contentious amendment by Parliament, removing the Presidential age limit from the constitution. Several religious leaders had condemned Members of Parliament for supporting an amendment that was “divisive” and “selfish”.
If assented to by the President, the law will see the top age cap for one to be President (which was previously at age 75) removed, and the lowest cap revised from age 35 to 18. Some critics have said the law promotes life presidency.
In his address on New Year’s Eve, President Museveni accused clerics, academia and the media for advocating for pseudo democracy in Uganda yet keeping quiet on critical issues of regional and African integration.
But Archbishop Lwanga used his New Year’s Day sermon at Rubaga Cathedral to respond to the President, and did not hold back to defend the role of the church in educating the masses.
“It should be public knowledge that religious leaders have a right and duty to educate people and give direction to social questions,” the Archbishop told the congregation on Monday.
“We have all the right to speak, Article 29 of the constitution stipulates the protection of freedom of conscience, freedom of own expression, freedom of movement. This means, that every citizen or every person has a right to freedom of speech and expression, freedom of thoughts,” he added.
Quoting the same constitution, the Archbishop further stated that building Uganda is not a responsibility of only a few individuals but a common social responsibility of all citizens.
“Before making abusive utterances on innocent people – be it religious leaders, politicians or others, that constitution is for all of us without any category of people, but whoever is a citizen of this country,” Lwanga noted.
Making reference to the Ten Point Program which Museveni’s government fronted after taking power in 1986, Lwanga said that part of the agenda was to restore democracy.
“What does that mean? People trade in views and then you choose the best. So we all have a duty to promote nothing else, not divisions but national unity. This 10 point programme are very good for nation building,” he said.
He also used the same message to respond to government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo who days ago criticized clerics for their remarks on the Age Limit and asked them to join politics if they wanted their views to be heard.
“I would like to assure everybody, do not get worried of us. We are not interested in political posts. What we are just doing is our work,” Archbishop Lwanga said.