President Museveni has showed his support for seven-year-term in a presidential office saying longer stay in office is essential for the growth of young countries. The president said the leaders in Africa have much more to do and need adequate time to develop the continent and saw no harm in having longer terms.
“For these countries with all these problems, two terms of five years is just a joke. Those who talk about this are just looking at improving their CVs. We might not discuss it now but there is merit at looking at the seven years. It would give some time to these young countries to develop. France has seven-year terms, I do not see what they have lost,” President Museveni told Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee which had called on him Tuesday at State House, Entebbe, to seek his views on the proposed amendment of Article 102(b) of the Constitution.
President Museveni told the committee that Uganda and Africa still face a number of challenges among them being under-developed and backward, and therefore search for leadership in the continent must be tailored to her needs with focus on substance not form.
“In a continent like Africa where we have had a leadership crisis and still faced with many challenges we need to be flexible, not merely legalistic and utilise all the potential from both the young and old. This is because it is more about our safety, survival and prosperity and not who leads us on that journey,” President Museveni said.
Citing cases of the United States, China, Russia and Israel among others, President Museveni explained that many of these countries, in their push to develop and transform, had been guided by leaders who were of advanced age and led the countries for decades.
“Israel has since 1948 been rotating leaders young and old. Today Israel is a super power yet in a largely hostile environment. The great leaders that transformed China, Deng Xiaoping and Deng Yingchao, were of advanced age,” said President Museveni. “The great United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchhill was leader up to the age of 81and offered some of the best leadership to his country.”
President Museveni also cited the case of Tunisia, which in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, had seen 91-year-old Beji Caid Essebsi elected President to stabilise the political situation.
He added: “I think the problem of Africans is concentrating on trivialities yet our issues should be about the African destiny and how to guarantee our future.”
The President also noted that another problem was the “shallowness” of some political actors on the African scene, “who seem to say our interest is to improve curriculum vitae (CVs) of individuals. They want to say ‘eyaliko president’. We are not here to give jobs to people”
The committee is scrutinising the private members bill, presented to Parliament by Hon Raphael Magyezi, which seeks to scrap the 35 and 75-year lower and upper age limits for candidates seeking the presidency.Committee chairman, Hon Oboth Oboth (West Budama South), who led the team of legislators, said they had sought the President’s views as a former presidential candidate and leader of a political party.
The President also dismissed the notion that the amendment was tailored to benefit him, pointing out that removal of the 35-year minimum for presidential candidates would instead give room to more young people who had been locked out to have a chance to run for the presidency.
The MPs, through Hon Robinah Rwakoojo, the committee’s deputy chairperson, thanked President Museveni for according them audience, and indicated they would do a good job writing a report that captures all views picked from those they interfaced with.