“I have sworn to defend the constitution…I shall play my part and pass on the leadership reins to the next president when the time comes.” – President Magufuli.
Tanzania’s Magufuli knows something some leaders in the world do not know or choose to ignore: Constitutions are meant to be respected and not amended on a whim. A growing number of leaders have not found constitutional limits an impediment for their megalomaniac cravings.
Paul Kagame, Pierre Nkurunziza and Yoweri Museveni have gained world-wide notoriety for their unsubtle tactics to remain in power by extending term limits. The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Joseph Kabila has not even had the decency to change laws before clinging to power but has brazenly stuck to the throne.
Thinking Magufuli was cut from the same cloth, some Tanzanian ruling party members have attempted to encourage Magufuli to consider an extension of the maximum ten year tenure. However, Magufuli would have none of it.
Speaking at a rally in the town of Tanga in Tanzania, John Magufuli responded to a call by a parliamentary from his party, CCM to extend his rule to at least 20 years. Magufuli responded, “It’s impossible. I will respect the constitution.” The President added, “I have sworn to defend the constitution…I shall play my part and pass on the leadership reins to the next president when the time comes.”
A single constitutional term is 5 years and the maximum possible time a leader can stay in power is 10 years. Magufuli said, “The two terms are enough to instil discipline back to Tanzania so that the person who will come next will find a disciplined country free of corruption.”
The idea was first publicly mooted by former president, Ali Hassan Mwinyi who said, “If it wasn’t for term limits, I would have suggested that Magufuli should be our president for eternity.”
His statement had an uncomfortable ring which gave credence to the opposition party claims that the CCM was carrying out a shadow campaign to find ways of prolonging his rule beyond the constitutional two terms.
President Magufuli has gained worldwide prominence for his hardliner leadership style. He has aggressively laid siege to corrupt institutions, firing leaders who do not deliver. In his first speech in parliament, Magufuli fired warning shots saying, “I’m telling government officers who are lazy and negligent to be prepared: They were tolerated for a long time. This is the end.” The Tanzanian leader has also slashed his cabinet, cracked down on lavish state events and introduced a sense of frugality in using state funds that not many countries have mastered.
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