I will begin by paraphrasing retired Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete’s piece of advice to his fellow African leaders: what one has failed to do in ten years, one will never be able to do even if given more years.

Quite telling for a man who has relinquished power at a remarkably tender age of 65.

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Africa is the poorest continent and, despite most countries attaining Independence over 50 years ago, only a handful of those South of Sahara can lay claim to good governance and, relative and sustained economic growth. In this group we have countries like South Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius, Ghana and Botswana.

The other African countries seem to be at crossroads, having failed to find answers to their persistent problems, among them poverty, disease, ignorance and poor governance, all basic ingredients for instability and war.

This pathetic situation has been compounded by a new plague, the ‘Third Term’, an endemic political scourge that has morphed into the sporadic change of individual countries’ Constitutions to enable rulers cling onto power.

The President of Congo Dennis Sassou Ngwesso has just had his country’s Constitution changed to allow him run for a third term in office, while President Pierre Nkurunziza changed Burundi’s Constitution to allow him run for a third term in office.

President Joseph Kabila is attempting to change the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to allow him serve a third term.

In Rwanda, efforts are underway to change the country’s Constitution to allow Paul Kagame serve a third seven-year term when he current mandate ends in 2017.

In Uganda the Constitution was changed about a decade ago to allow President Yoweri Museveni serve a third term (currently he is serving his fourth term), while in Zimbabwe it is just the norm for President Robert Gabriel Mugabe to stay on till he answers to the Almighty’s call. And the story just goes on and on!

So, what has gone wrong with Africa? I will just focus on Burundi, a country whose citizens have known little about human freedoms since the tiny and one of the poorest countries in the world got Independence from Belgium in 1962.

Until ten years ago the current President Nkurunziza was himself a rebel leader, fighting against regimes he said were hell-bent on denying the people of Burundi their inherent freedoms.

However, despite being in power for a decade (and still counting), Nkurunziza has failed respect the citizens’ rights and freedoms. Worse still, he has also failed to transform his country and propel it from being the second poorest country in the world!

And because of such dismal performance, many Barundi thought it wise that the man take a break, so that the country re-orients itself under a different leadership. But Alas! This was not to be and now the tempo in his country has risen to genocide proportions, courtesy of his protégé, Senate President Reverien Ndikuriyo.

At this point, it is worth making reference to one of the most significant statements made by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNCHR), a man who has dedicated his services to humanity and one who wakes up every day of his life to ‘fight’ for human rights and human dignity.

‘And yet, astonishingly, the authors of the crimes themselves, and their supporting communities, will always believe their actions were somehow necessary, even if they knew they were also wrong.  Indeed, every individual, political party, association, ethnic, sectarian, or national group, or government discriminating and inflicting violence on others, believes that when doing so they are excused, or absolved, by circumstance or history.’

Those words were said by Al Hussein said during a speech he made in Geneva, as the High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2014.

I have made reference to Al Hussein because he was one of the people who served under the UN in former Yugoslavia, one of the most dangerous flashpoints of the 20th century, alongside Rwanda and Cambodia.

And what happened to that Yugoslavia of yesteryears under Marshall Josip Broz Tito for 37 years is instructive as an eye-opener for the rulers of Africa today.

Just like many of Africa’s ‘strongmen’ ruling today, Marshall Tito’s Yugoslavia in the early 1940s enjoyed political and economic stability, with the ‘strongman’ at one time being heralded as ‘the greatest man in the world today’ by American Actor and Film Director Orson Welles.

Indeed, both at home and elsewhere Marshall Tito was viewed as the embodiment of a stable and prosperous nation, yet in actual fact he was just another ineffective ruler surviving on debauchery and intrigue; a passing cloud whose death in 1980 would lead to one of the world’s most brutal ethnic and religious wars between the Orthodox Christians and Muslims in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia.

As observed earlier, many African countries are either on the verge of becoming ‘failed states’ or are facing tumultuous situations because of the ‘longevity’ in power desired by their respective rulers; Africa’s replicas of Yugoslavia’s Marshall Tito.

Poignantly, many Africans have lived to rue what is happening in Somalia where Mohammed Said Barre ruled for 22 years; Libya where Muammar Gadhafi ruled for 42 years, in Egypt where Hosni Mubarak ruled for 30 years; in Cameroon where Paul Biya has ruled for 33 years; in Zimbabwe where Robert Mugabe has ruled for 35 years and in Angola where Jos Eduardo dos Santos has ruled for 36 years.

Interestingly, all the countries mentioned above are still third world countries. It is a shame but Africans trudge on, most living on less than a dollar a day.

It is against such a background, that Africa frees itself of all the ‘third termers’ because they have failed to  add any value to governance and economic development. Period.

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