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Paul Kagame setting bad precedence for African leadership

In a televised end year address to Rwandans, President Paul Kagame made clear his intention to run for the Presidency of Rwanda, days after Rwandans overwhelmingly voted for him in a referendum to contest the 2017 general elections for the third term.

Kagame has indeed been the face at the epicentre of the national development and the transformative agenda for the Rwandan people, and has clearly led the country on a path of recovery, peace, stability and security from the annals of the 1994 wanton killings that over time became the worst infamous genocide, ever witnessed in African history.

Through the establishment of Umuganda which when loosely translated to English means “Coming together” , Kwibuka, Umushryikiyano and other initiatives, the Land of a thousand hills prides itself of peace, stability and tranquillity under the stewardship of the incumbent.

Kagame has spearheaded economic reforms in Rwanda and the hallmarks of the country being economically transformed, can be attributed to his shrewd leadership. These are just some of the salient achievements which are not mean.

This latest move by Kagame, which has become fodder for political bickering spells doom for the african political leadership. He goes into the books of history as one  of the African Presidents who reneged to relinquish the instruments of power at the expiry of their term and rather used the opportunity to rape their constitution in their favour;  a case of same script but different cast.

Despite his stellar performance, he joins the league of Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza, Yahya Jammeh of Gambia, Joseph Kabila of Democratic Republic of Congo and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, only to name but a few. An individual can do so much for their countrymen but when certain fundamental aspects such as respecting the democratic space and upholding the principles of democracy are compromised, then their gains no matter how immense begin to plummet, overturning the gains made. Such leaders risk strife and instability in their countries’ and only aggravate the political duel as is the current political scenario in Burundi. In the words of President Barack Obama, no one deserves to be president for life.

Kagame has stubbornly and consistently been critical of the dissenting opinions of the West and other European nations who have been their development partners for a considerably long time now. Without fear of retribution, Africa is proud, privileged and honoured to have visionary and shrewd leaders like President Paul Kagame.

But the apogee of it all is that no matter how successful a leader has been, they must uphold constitutionalism, the rule of law and allow other people to lead as well. Impudently clinging onto political leadership is a harbinger of misfortune, doom and a disaster in waiting.

An individual cannot guarantee sustainable peace, stability and progress however good they may be and more so now that we all are mortals. The only thing that can guarantee the aforementioned are strong institutional frameworks.

As such Kagame’s headache should have been on how to summon his energies to create strong institutional frameworks and sound policy regimes that would guarantee Rwanda’s sustained peace, progress and pursue the transformative agenda for which he has already initiated.

With that, then he can do the honourable thing to retire from active politics, confident that Rwanda is in safe hands, devoid of annihilation and will forever remain peaceful and prosperous irrespective of who is at the helm of the country’s political leadership. 

A wake up call to our African presidents who refuse to exit office after their term expires is for them to embrace Mandela and do exactly what he did because there come a time when the interests of the nation supersede their individual narcissist desires. One can still serve their country even when not in the capacity of a president.

Envelop a good leader is one who is able to nurture good leaders that can take after them and not good followers. Success without a successor is outright failure in itself. There should be a succession plan just as witnessed in Tanzanian general elections. A culture that embellishes repression of the laws of the land is a bad culture. All must respect constitution as being sacrosanct give room for democratic transition and desist from setting bad precedence for African leaders.

Africa needs strong institutions, not strong men.

Happy New Year, 2016