By Alfred Muteru
In one of his many off-the-cuff remarks at the opening of the 25th African Union Summit in 2015, President Robert Mugabe slammed the constitutional two-term presidential limit discourse in Africa. However, in reference to recent events in Burundi, he wittingly noted political upheavals that emerged when incumbents decide to extend their stay in office. Ironically, President Mugabe is serving his seventh term though his first under Zimbabwe’s new constitution. This constitution restricts him to two-terms.
President Mugabe’s contradictory expressions highlight the numerous contentions over presidential term-limits on the continent. To-date, out of the 33 African countries who have constitutional term limits, 12 have successfully changed the provisions that have allowed incumbent presidents to extend their stay in power. Though a number of them have been unsuccessful in changing the constitution, the lingering question is why these leaders are desirous of extending their stay in office? What are the consequences of their actions in each context where this occurs?