Should there be a term limit for leaders?

April 14, 2021 1338 views 17 comments 2 minutes reading time
Should there be a term limit for leaders?

With 13 general elections across the continent in 2021, one contentious issue is that of term limits and their impact on good governance and democracy.

Several countries have reversed laws that uphold term limits while others question the concept itself, labelling it as an import from the Western world and in particular the United States of America

For decades, many African leaders stand accused of perfecting the art of manipulating their constitutions or electoral bodies to remain in power. The Ugandan elections held on the 14th January 2021, serve as the latest example with President Yoweri Museveni securing a sixth term in office. In 2005, a constitutional amendment in Uganda saw the removal of term limits, and in 2017, an amendment to article 102 (b)further supported the longevity of Museveni’s presidency by abolishing the existing 75-year age limit for candidates. “Sevo” has now joined the club of the longest-serving African presidents.

Teodoro Nguema is currently the longest-serving president in Africa. He has ruled Equatorial Guinea for 41 years. Nguema is followed closely by Paul Biya, currently the president of Cameroon who has been President for 38 years. Denis Nguesso, from the Republic of Congo has ruled for 36 years. Museveni comes in fourth, followed by Isaias Afewerki has ruled Eritrea for 27 years.

Are term limits an obstacle or a boon to democracy in Africa?

We turned to former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano for some insights.

Whether or not electoral integrity is upheld in the continent’s 2021 elections remains to be seen. Critics express the need for free and fair elections, insisting that electoral integrity is an important tool for democracy.  Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Boshe suggests that true democracy can only be achieved through a free and fair election process. 

Should there be term limit for leaders? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts!

Image by GPA Photo Archive via Flickr


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Yes! Ten years in the maximum!

A good leader should get a maximum Two elective 7 year terms. A recall clause should also be included to EASILY remove an elected leader who becomes DESPOTIC and PAROCHIAL anytime before his or her term ends. Remembering KAGUTA'S tragic forays into foreign neighboring countries on his looting sprees and destabilizing large Swathes of REAL ESTATE in the Great Lakes Region Sub-Sahara especially DRCongo and South Sudan its time KAGUTA'S retired to look after his Cows. He's been an unmitigated Disaster for the Great Lakes Region Sub-Sahara. I've not even mentioned how he terrorises Ugandans during Elections. Now some nutcases are killing his Senior officers both civilian and military and he's none the wiser just like the rest of the country. Pathetic !

The term of any leaders should be limited to 8 years unless they considered political power as their own personal property.

If Museveni is doing good for his country and people, let him be ... All these others whose only dream is acquisition of DOLLARS and POUNDS and EUROs.... I fear them and fear for the future of any country that have the MISFORTUNE of enthroning any un that BAND ....

A term limit of 10 years is okay for any serious and performing leader of a country to make an impact to his people.

Leadership should be about performance, legitimacy (acceptance by the people) and good faith. If the inequality, poverty and unemployment is addressed, and if the people accept the place of the leaders and the leaders operates in good faith, then limits wouldn't matter.

I think most of our African presidents are way too powerful, with power highly centralised. Perhaps we should as well talk about, when term limits are put in our constitutions, how do we ensure that they won't be immediately revoked by the guy who comes in office.

Absolutely! Most of african leaders are conscious that the reversal of laws that uphold term limits has a negative impact on good governance and democracy but they are often encouraged to do so by some big global interest groups (late President Pascal Lissouba of Republic of Congo-Brazzaville and President Idriss Deby Itno of Republic of Chad have testified it during interviews with journalists).Unfortunately that behaviour is one of the main roots of armed conflicts in Africa. The solution can come from the UN Security Council.If the 5 Permanent members of the UN Security Council take a courageous decision to forbid any out-going President to reverse laws that uphold the two term limits on the ground of the global peace and security,that practice will change and it will make one step forward towards the good governance.

Le mandat présidentiel est de 4 ans

Thank you, this is very special platform but the issue should be the removal of presidential protection to justice after their tenure. This is the biggest problem in Africa, because most African leaders are relaxed and vandalized our natural resources as they know nothing will happen to them there after. We need to punish wrong doers either while they are in or out of the office.

I certainly believe in the need for term limits. To ensure true development, we need new ideas from others. Knowledge does not lie in the head of only one person. An Akan proverb says "when water says too long in a pot, it smells". That has been the bane of Africa. We cannot do away with corruption and nepotism if we don't periodically subject our leaders to scrutiny through fair and transparent elections.

Well, for the purpose of meeting the standards of democracy, term limit must be observed and adhered to. However, term limit or no term limit, what I think is Africa's misfortune is the lack of leaders who will care for their citizens. Like Paul Kagame whose terms were extended in a referendum, his people are recognizing his efforts for how far he has taken Rwanda, though I cannot deny or attest to manipulation that may have played in the extending of his tenure. So, I believe having leaders who care for their countries and people, and the continent at large can solve the question surrounding term limit, because without the egocentric and dictatorial thoughts, they can easily relinquish power in line with their constitution, or on the basis of call by the people when the need arises. Africa must pray to have people-centered leaders.

On their leadership. Not history. The good Lord has blessed us with Such a rich continent

With the bad Political history of African leaders we should definitely have a limit on their history

I agree with President Joaquim Chissano. The question of term limits trivializes the real issues affecting Africa's democracy and development agenda. We place all long-serving leaders in one basket while in the real sense some are performing well. The solution for Africa will not come with electing a series of failures. It lies with saying no to evils such as corruption and nepotism.

Yes, it's the basis of any modern functioning democracy. I would model it on the US system where a President can only stay in office for 8 years.