POINT OF ORDER
TIM COHEN: Leaders linger, but Africans back turnover
African leaders clamour to keep power, but term limits are actually very popular
At the weekend, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame was re-elected with 98% of the vote. Why is it that many African countries don’t seem to get sick of their presidents, while in SA presidents seem to have the life expectancy of a piece of uncooked salmon?
Kagame’s victory is not without its controversy. Developed democracies generally frown on political systems with such an overwhelming margin of victory because it seems so suspicious. And the suspicions are not without foundation.
Days after 35-year-old businesswoman Diane Rwigara launched her campaign as a critic of Kagame, nude photos of her appeared on the internet. The biggest controversy, however, has to do with term limits. Kagame has been president for 17 years and this victory will mean he will stay in power for another seven. He was supposed to stand down, but in 2015, his party proposed a constitutional amendment to allow him an additional term and that too was won by a huge majority.The number of presidents who have their eye on this process is kinda scary. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila has suggested a similar extension. He should have left office in December 2016. In nearby Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza announced in 2015 that he would stand for a controversial third term as president. Mauritanians voted at the weekend in a constitutional referendum that critics see as paving the way for a third term too. The official result was not known at the time of publication. The Econom...