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Analysis of Term Limits : A commentary

By Professor Nshuti Manasseh
On 26 janvier 2015 at 12:58

Analysis of term limits by Mr Fred Mufulukye that appeared in The New Times of 19/1/15 is an article of critical interest to our the change and continuity debate/homework that is yet to be completed. A pending home work for us Rwandans.
He ably put his ideas in a way that informs and fits into our homework. And although this article may be construed to be his opinion, nevertheless to date he speaks for, and on behalf of millions of Rwandans that have voiced similar views on the very issue (...)

Analysis of term limits by Mr Fred Mufulukye that appeared in The New Times of 19/1/15 is an article of critical interest to our the change and continuity debate/homework that is yet to be completed. A pending home work for us Rwandans.

He ably put his ideas in a way that informs and fits into our homework. And although this article may be construed to be his opinion, nevertheless to date he speaks for, and on behalf of millions of Rwandans that have voiced similar views on the very issue in different fora so much so that, if we go by simple feed-back especially from majority rural forks, they have completed their home work.

It is no longer pending nor work in progress anymore. To them, and I dearly hold similar opinion, the best change with continuity and stability, (add certainty) for us as a people and country given our abnormal past context, fragile present and our uncertain future is no change at all. No change at all then brings about constitutional issues that we shall have to sort out.

Change is not an end in itself, nor a status quo just because others have done it so should we. Change should always be for better, if not why change anyway.

As Mr Mufulukye put it and this is in public know both within and internationally, President Paul Kagame has fundamentally transformed our country in all its whole so much so that, even the endemic critique (they will always be there, for wrong reasons for they don’t show alternatives to his ways of governing our country) accept that, his performance is unparalleled in our history as a country and indeed a miracle by all standards of measure of development.

From economy, to social cohesion/unity, political landscape to international relations, his performance has distinguished him among his peers, and given Rwanda an identity and an address we are proud of, and one which we needed immensely given our heinous past.

Timelines and Constitutional Issues :
The timelines of 2017 when his current term of office ends, has raised lots of anxiety among Rwandans and foreign stakeholders most of which are worried by the constitutional limits in place that will disrupt his exemplary performance.

Mr Mufulukye captured this well in his article, and in my opinion article 101 of our constitution of no change is complimented by article 193, on how amendment should be done. It is important to reflect that, a constitution is not stone cast nor a convent but rather set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed.

It establishes the character of a government by defining the basic principles to which a society must conform ; by describing the organization of the government and regulation, distribution, and limitations on the functions of different government departments ; and by prescribing the extent and manner of the exercise of its sovereign powers. Such are defined by a people to suit their circumstances and amended to suit critical and fundamental situations that a country may face.

Concept.

The concept of a constitution (although dates back to 384 B.C by The Greek Philosopher Aristotle) was to be widely used in Europe in eighteenth and nineteenth centuries mainly owing to dictatorial excesses of European leaders at the time (constitutions were to limit excesses and abuse of office), and to enhance the evolution of their democracy given the crises and upheavals that the continent faced. All constitutions world over, are living documents that are amended as the circumstances demands.

People who voted it in the first place have the same and equal powers and rights to amend it. It is not a mythical document out there safeguarded by some absolute powers.

Absolute powers are a preserve of Rwandans, and cannot be dictated by other stakeholders of any sort or form, for we are the sole beneficiaries of the same as we are equally sole losers if we miss an opportunity to make an informed decision regarding the future of a country whose abnormal past and transformative present as well as the very uncertain future places the person of President Kagame too central to, and akin to new Rwanda to wish away.

By the same token, such a context means that we cannot gamble with our destiny in the name of conformity and status quo, a luxury that can only enjoyed by countries with reasonably normal past, and a predictable future. The probability of changing a heroic President to untested character has always lead to total failure and turmoil with the attendant reversal of all achievements. We cannot afford this as a country and a people. Lots of examples of such failures abound in Africa, as is true in many other countries (including developed) that have changed exemplary leadership although none bear our context. Costs inherent to such decision are usually priceless for generations to come.

It is irrational to change exemplary leadership and more so in our context even in the name of constitutionalism, that becomes an end. We would the first country to do so, and perhaps the last. No country in our context or a close approximate of the same that has done so in known development literature.

I am passionate on context for without keeping it in mind we may settle for status quo with consequences we can never underwrite as a people and a country for generations to come. Y-generation should be told of our context whose outlook some may underrate or even take for granted with the danger that, ghosts of our past (active today as in the past) may take the show, and with high degree of certainty.

Faith Coated Ideologue.

When one factors in the faith coated genocide ideology against Tutsi which is actively supported by regional and international powers and actors, and especially in the face of recent flawed/cosmetic disarmament of FDLR, one questions the logic for change.

That USA amended her constitution in 1951 to allow President Roosevelt to run for four terms (this was a war period), ours is unique given the economic, social as well ideological wars that only President Kagame has ably fought (a number of which he has won), but many others known unknown are yet to be won. In fact diehard enemies of our country are open and categorical to the fact that, after President Kagame has left the office, they can let loose their demonic ghosts. Who can allow this to happen unless he is party, sympathetic or one of these enemies. God forbid.
To be continued…

Professor Nshuti Manasseh. Economist and Financial Expert. Email : [email protected]


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