In the next three years crucial elections across the continent and East Africa in Particular, Burundi and Tanzania 2015, Uganda 2016, Rwanda 2017, these elections are not only critical for democracy in Africa but also a source of conflict or sustainable peace in the region. We shall endeavour to find out about presidential term limits and the longest serving leaders on the continent and the impact of their long stay in power on the democratic institutions.
Economic Intelligence Unit Democracy Index 2014.
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index 2014 defines four different regimes that exist across Africa.
Full democracy Basic political freedoms and civil liberties are respected, and tend to be underpinned by a political culture conducive to the flourishing of democracy. The functioning of government is satisfactory. Media are independent and diverse. There is an effective system of checks and balances. The judiciary is independent and judicial decisions are enforced. There are only limited problems in the functioning of democracies
Flawed democracy Free and fair elections and even if there are problems (such as infringements on media freedom), basic civil liberties will be respected. However, there are significant weaknesses in other aspects of democracy, including problems in governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation.
Hybrid Elections have substantial irregularities that often prevent them from being both free and fair. Government pressure on opposition parties and candidates may be common. Serious weaknesses are more prevalent than in flawed democracies – in political culture, functioning of government and political participation. Corruption tends to be widespread and the rule of law is weak. Civil society is weak. Typically there is harassment of and pressure on journalists and the judiciary is not independent.
Authoritarian/Nominal democracy Political pluralism is absent or heavily circumscribed. Many countries in this category are outright dictatorships. Some formal institutions of democracy may exist, but these have little substance. Elections, if they do occur, are not free and fair. There is disregard for abuses and infringements of civil liberties. Media are typically state-owned or controlled by groups connected to the ruling regime. There is repression of criticism of the government and pervasive censorship. There is no independent judiciary.
Africa’s 10 longest serving leaders
Four African leaders have been in power for over 30 years, and nine countries have had the same leaders for over 20 years. According to the CIA FACT BOOK, these leaders have no appetite of handing over power peacefully. Country Leadership Years in Office
Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo 36
Angola Jose Eduardo dos Santos 36
Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe 35
Cameron Paul Biya 33
Uganda Yoweri Museveni 29
Swaziland King Muswati III 29
Sudan Omar Al Bashir 26
Chad Idriss Deby 25
Eritrea Isaias Afweki 22
Gambia Yahya Jammeh 19
Interestingly all these leaders have one thing in common, they have argued that their people love them or they have vision for their country that no one could accomplish, therefore they can’t leave power in the hands of people they think have no vision to carry on their visionary leadership. President Museveni in his famous speech in 1986, the Problem for Africa, he argued that the problem of Africa is not the people but the leaders who stay long in power.
In it, the author says, “The problem of Africa in general and Uganda in particular is not the people but leaders who want to overstay in power.” Unfortunately, some people in Uganda are saying that the Ugandan leader of Today and the one of 1986, if they could meet on the street, they could shoot each other on sight.
While I will not go further in delving deep in the reasons why this African freedom fighter has changed from his original philosophy and ideology, it is highly probable that our freedom fighter (President Kagame) and a person many regard as selflessly stopped genocide is deceived by opportunists and self seekers with an advertent or inadvertent intention of tarnishing his good image and character.
Do these political hyenas who want to tarnish the good character of or great leader really love him? I highly doubt it, in fact if by all the scales of standards of love, they fail to qualify, they rather hate him with the highest degree of disrespect. Just to remind them, this is what the President said in 2012, and what has even continued to say,
Having listened to the opinions of those calling upon him to remain president beyond 2017, Kagame said that the reason many people have given him for staying longer is the very reason he feels that makes it imperative he leaves power.
“People say that I should stay because there is no one to replace me. But if in all these years I have been unable to mentor a successor or successors that should be the reason I should not continue as president. It means that I have not created capacity for a post-me Rwanda. I see this as a personal failure.”.
Has he failed? I will say NO
I will argue that President Kagame has in fact built institutions for the last 21 years so that, they can carry on with or without him. The judiciary is now highly respected by all the international scales so much so that even the big democracies in the world can send suspects to be tried in our own country by our own judiciary. We have a well respected National Police and RDF that many of our men and women in uniform have been deployed on the African continent and beyond to help in areas of conflict. Therefore those calling on Kagame to stay beyond 2017, whatever their reasons, they are not justifiable and are falling into the trap the president’s critics are praying for. Indeed, I will say ,they don’t love him; they are just political hyenas who will only survive on the President’s prey.
For those who claim that love President Kagame, should be aware that removing term limits will be the best opportunity to argue by his enemies and all his admirers alike, that he is an ordinary African despot seeking to cling to power at all costs. But as far as I know, no person is acutely aware of this than President Kagame himself and it seems many of these so called lovers either out of true conviction or out of opportunism, so that they can tarnish his name and character underestimate his strength of character. “Invugo niyo ngiro”.
Its only under the leadership of President Kagame and RPF that, Rwanda has many Universities and all of them have benn producing graduates since 1994, President Kagame has invested in Education within the country and abroad, where many of our Citizens have been given scholarships to study all over the world. Does it mean that they have been producing half baked or nothing Rwandans? Please leave our President alone, hands off; we want to see Kagame the father of the nation who will go in Rwandan history that for the first time Power changed from one leader to another by a ballot box but not a bullet.