Tanzania’s outgoing president Jakaya Kikwete says he is looking forward to stepping down in October this year, you need to move on. It’s been 10 years since I came to this high profile office,” he said.
“I was very young, just 55. But what I can tell you about this job is that it is stressful and thankless.” His comments might furrow some brows among his neighbours, who have been accused of overstaying their welcome in office.
Kikwete’s counterpart in Uganda Yoweri Museveni has been in office since 1986 after he helped to topple dictators Idi Amin and Milton Obote, and is now serving his fourth term amid accusations of electoral fraud and opposition intimidation.
In DR Congo, Joseph Kabila’s attempt to change the constitution to allow him stand for a third term resulted into protests.
Both Malawi and Zambia are beacons in the region for power having changed hands peacefully several times in recent years, but further south in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, the president, has clung on to high office, allegedly using voter intimidation, violence and poll manipulation, since 1980.
Further west, Angola’s Eduardo dos Santos has been in power since 1979.
None the less, Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan set a strong example for the region last week when he conceded defeat to his presidential rival Muhammadu Buhari in crunch elections.
Asked at the Washington event why he believed African leaders had a tendency to cling to power, Kikwete took a diplomatic approach. “I should not speak on their behalf,” he said.
“You need to invite them and get their opinions.”
In his speech, President Kikwete — whose second and final five-year term ends in October — reflected on his accomplishments, some of the key challenges he has faced and lessons learned during a decade at the helm.
He also spoke of his plans for the future–and it would appear that he is keen on three things: Agriculture, reducing maternal mortality and fighting malaria. He is particularly keen on cutting maternal mortality.