MMD president Nevers Mumba says having a 10-year presidential term of office could worsen the arrogance of Heads of State in Africa.
On Thursday, President Edgar Lungu said he would be happier if a Presidential tenure was increased to 10 years so that a Head of State does not worry about re-election immediately after assuming office.
“Obviously 10 years is the best time that you can have to deliver and I was sharing with President Uhuru [Kenyatta] over this same one to say ‘why don’t they just give us 10 years and we go? One term, 10 years, you go. At that point you will not be worried about re-election, you will focus on growth of the economy and serious issues. But what is happening is that immediately you go in there, people begin challenging you and you begin defending yourself and again a ‘boxing’ match ensues, at the end of the day you don’t do much work. But that’s food for thought coming from me,” said President Lungu.
But in an interview, Mumba advised President Lungu to stop talking about 2021 and focus on delivering campaign promises.
“We have followed the interview between the President and Grevazio Zulu in connection to the term of office for a President. Earlier, I had indicated that President Lungu needs to concentrate more on the delivery and also on the fulfillment of the promises that he made during the campaign. This desire to constantly talk about 2021 is taking away from him. I think that unlike what he says that after five years he will go back into a boxing match, that’s not what democracy is interpreting re-election. Re-election is not for you to go into a boxing ring and start to speak badly about others, or try to destroy your opponents or try to drag your opponents into court or jail so that they are incapacitated before the election. That’s not the intention of democracy,” Mumba said.
Mumba also disagreed that a 10-year presidential tenure would solve problems, saying it will only worsen the arrogance of Heads of State in Africa.
“Basically how you perform in the presidency becomes the boxing match for your next election. I think that if he [President Lungu] governs well, if the rule of law is place, if equity is in place, if the citizens are happy with the way that he has handled his term of office of five years, I do not think it will be a problem for him to get re-elected. So we don’t agree that a 10 year straight term of office would solve the problems that Africa is currently facing. To the contrary I think it will aggravate those problems and make the stubbornness and the arrogance of Presidents across the continent unimaginable,” he said The intention of democracy is that a President wins an election, starts to fulfill his campaign promises, makes sure he takes care of the needs of electorate by ensuring that jobs are made available, by ensuring that people are able to take their families to hospitals, are able to take children to school and also to ensure that there is food security in a country,” he said.
He said staying in office for longer than five years was no guarantee that one could deliver their promises.
“We have examples on the continent of Africa. President Kenneth Kaunda lasted 27 years, towards the end Dr Kaunda had actually ended his mission but almost expired and we had to live with it until 27 years, and you saw how the exit was. President Robert Mugabe stayed for 37 years, started off as a war hero, a man who was revered not only in Zimbabwe but across the continent and the world, look at his exit. I think that democracy demands that after five years for us, the President presents himself to the Zambian people to say, ‘yes you have done a good job we are going to give you another five years’. I think it is very unfortunate if he thinks that staying for 10 years is going to make him accomplish his entire program,” said Mumba.
“We do understand that the President infers to the fact that 10 years straight would allow a President to carry out his program and finish his mandate well without interruption of an election. However, we are of the view that democracy demands that after a period of time, preferably not more than seven or five years, that particular leader should go back to the people to seek their further mandate. This is because, unfortunate for the human race, the longer you stay does not necessarily mean the better you become in the execution of the job before you.”