Change with Stability: Term limits don’t impact on country’s devt, leaders do (Part III)

The change-with-stability debate has drawn some reactions and, of course, not surprisingly, from the wrong quarters; most if not all based outside the country. The characters question the authenticity and intention and some of the arguments are not only irrelevant but also out of context.

Some sections of foreign media, especially Voice Of America (VOA) Kinyarwanda edition and to some extent VOA African service, have been hosting some of the these people who when asked to introduce themselves, always belong to parties whose voices cannot objectively represent the views of Rwandans.

These can be categorised as follows:

Renegades (Ibigarasha)

Ibigarasha are characters who have pending criminal cases in Rwanda for which they are wanted. Some have failed accountability demands of the system of governance and had to flee only to show up in the media and social networks posing as the opposition.

Kayumba Nyamwasa, Theogene Rudasingwa, David Himbara and Rene Mugenzi all fall under this category. Sadly, serious media outlets which consult them for opinions choose to ignore their tainted backgrounds and why they are where they are today.

FDLR members and/or their associates

These are extremist Rwandans and wanted criminals who took part in the Genocide against Tutsis in 1994, and continue to freely roam the streets of Western capitals despite arrest warrants which a number of western countries have chosen to ignore. They are known to be behind the planning, directing and executing of the Genocide against Tutsis and have a wide network in the Western world that water down and revise the Genocide in Rwanda.

These groups fight tooth and nail to discredit anything Rwandan.

Constitutional reformists

This constitutes media groups who succumb or fall prey to the manipulations of FDLR groups and their sympathizers and they include activists whose duty is to preach to Africans and African leaders how to behave and govern. They hold Africa to one side. Africa is rising and Africans are rising too. Rwandans arose much faster and are on course to defining their future, their destiny and no individual or group will reverse the wind of change and our right to choice, especially by influencing our choice in the leadership we need and deserve.

It is a fallacy to suggest that democracy is a panacea to Africa’s problems and that term limits can solve them.

Even the “greatest” democracy in the world, the United States of America, has many problems because of a political system which marginalises people and favours corporations. Of course, it is equally fallacious to suggest that external interests can sort out Africa’s problems. In our case, the end state is not presidential term or no term limits; it’s sustenance of stability and socio-economic transformation.

This brings me to the question. Does third term affect the level of development of Africa? My answer is an absolute NO. There is no correlation between term limits or lack of it with development. Term limits don’t impact on a country’ development. Leaders do.

Some countries including Nigeria, Malawi, Zambia and Burkina Faso rejected third terms. These countries have socio-economic and political problems such as corruption, because of weak institutions. It is fair to say that third terms do not inhibit a country’s development per se.

The same is true for Western Europe. Much of their development from industrial development to their emergency as developed economies had no history of term limits. They were ruled by Kings/Queens until recently. The decedents of these systems now want us to believe that they had term limits as long as these have been nation state. Far from it. But this does not negate the challenges of development they faced then, and which we face today.

Rwandans are saying they want to look beyond a numerical figure, in this number 3, and rather take a decision based on President Paul Kagame’s performance as their leader. I don’t think there is anyone that can reverse or shake this conviction. The aforementioned isolated, irrelevant and destructive critics can never reverse the will of four million Rwandans who have petitioned Parliament for constitutional changes so they can retain powers to continue shaping the future of this country.

The writer is an economist based in Kigali.

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