By Baraka Sudi
Time to Save Ugandans, Rwandans and Burundians from Dictatorships Last week Tanzaniaâ€™s ruling party nominated its candidate for presidency the Tanzanian way-peacefully. This is in preparation for the succession of President Jakaya Kikwete who completes his two termsthis year.
The same cannot be said of Burundi and Uganda. In Burundi, the born again Pierre Nkurunziza stretched his imagination to ridiculous levels in a bid to secure what he calls a â€˜second termâ€™ but what is correctly a third term. Not even an attempted coup and violent clashes in Bunjumbura could get his eyes off the only thing worth eyeing in Burundi- the presidency.
Meanwhile, even before the election,hundreds of thousands of Burundians have voted with their feet and left the country for neighboring countries. Uganda has not been left behind. After scrapping off the two term limit set in 1995, Museveni has made it no secret that he will be on the ballot box again in the next elections even after ruling for 29 years.
When he became president Museveni wrote some words that have to haunt him, â€˜The problem of Africa in general and Uganda in particular is not the people but leaders who want to overstay in power.â€™ Few men since Jesus have correctly predicted their future as Museveni did with these words.
In fact, many contend right now that were Museveni of 2015 to meet Museveni of 1986, he would have no qualms shooting him for writing such insulting words. By all measures, Museveni has overstayed his welcome in Uganda. That is why his power is increasing retreating to where it originated- the bullet not the ballot. Uganda is now a militarized country.
In neighboring Rwanda, Kagame too is preparing his third term. And he too is sparing no brain cell in finding a way through it. A few weeks ago hundreds of thousands of Rwandans â€˜spontaneouslyâ€™ matched through the streets of Kigali
demanding that Rwanda, like Uganda, scrap term limits. Millions of others have signed petitions requiring MPs to change the constitution to this effect.
It is worth noting that even though he criticized Nkurunzizaâ€™s third term pursuit, his reason was not that he had violated the two-term constitutional requirement but because he had not performed in his two terms. In other words, it is the performance, not the constitution, that should limit ones stay in power.
Given the fact that he has â€˜performedâ€™ he expects no criticism when he goes for his expected third term. To bolster his argument he has been comparing himself of late with the long term Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew who converted
a small British outpost in Asia to one of the wealthiest countries in the world, far wealthier than British itself, by leading it for over 30 years. It is no brainer; Kagame is not Lee Kuan Yew!
Contrary to what these leaders would have us believe, two term limit is not a western imposition of its governance system in our continent. Support for two term limit is overwhelming in Africa after the horrors that many had to endure in the 1960s-1980s eras of lifetime presidents who, with no fear of ever leaving power, committed monstrous
atrocities against their own people and looted the national treasurers dry. Just recently, the African Union on its volition sought to make two- term limit compulsory for all African
In most African countries, pursuit of power is a do or die game. The only way of guaranteeing that this pursuit is peaceful is ensuring that those in power leave it peacefully after a certain period of time. And that is
the only way of maintaining stability in a country. We are willing to endure even the most incompetent of governments because of their temporary nature guaranteed by two-term limits in the constitution.
In lieu of that, we would be forced to take up arms against the potentate.
Part of Romeâ€™s instability and decline was not because it lacked brilliant leaders but it lacked a formula that would ensure peaceful transfer of power from one emperor to another. Each time an emperor died, power fell in the hands of â€˜the strongestâ€™. And there lay its graveyard.
The fate of Rome awaits Rwanda,Uganda and Burundi unless something drastic is done. If these leaders are going to continue to hold the constitution in contempt as a mere scrap piece of paper and not a sacred pact between the governed and governors then all that remains is war.
The first Roman emperor, Caesar
Augustus, established an interesting
tradition where great military
generals, glorious from successful
military campaigns and marching
heads high before admiring crowds
through the streets of Rome, had a
slave commissioned to whisper to
them time and time again â€˜Though
art mortalâ€™ and â€˜you are not Godâ€™ so
that power and glory would not get
into their head.
Power has gotten in the heads of
these guys to a point where they
cannot leave it without a fight.
These three men have no one to
remind them â€˜thou art mortalâ€™ or
â€˜you are not God.â€™ All have cowed
their opponents through
assassinations and intimidations,
bribed the army into acquiescence
and reduced most of the other
institutions that would check their
power into a state of impotence.
What they have now is absolute
It is this absolute power that is
responsible for the hubris exhibited
by Kagame, Nkurunzinza and
Museveni. To them, there can be no
Rwanda, Burundi or Uganda without
them. Like Louis XIV before them it
is a case of ‘L’etat c’est moi’ (I am
the state). These countries were
there before them and they will
continue existing after them.
With elections almost useless in
these countries, only outside help
can do. The citizens of these
countries expect, and deserve, help
from more powerful countries that
have considerable leverage over
these regimes. If the USA, EU and
China put down their feet, looked
straight in the eyes of these
dictators and told them firmly â€˜goâ€™,
they will go. Now is the time for
that. As Obama visits the Great
Lakes region, that should be top of