The President for Life Pandemic in Africa
Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Zambia and MalawiPaperback - 2013
Dictatorship, contrary to the general belief, is not an African invention. The history of this practice dates back to the Roman Empire where the "extraordinary magistrate" and the "ordinary magistrate" wielded uncontrolled power in society. Sadly, post-colonial Africa is replete with examples of African leaders who subsequently adopted the dictatorial approach to governance after independence, almost becoming law unto themselves. Consequently, the 'president for life' phenomenon has invariably become one of the defining features of the African continent - even in the modern era of democracy. Some African leaders assume positions of power and then use state institutions to prolong their stay in office against the wishes of the people and contrary to constitutional imperatives. This book was inspired by the general trend in Africa where an increasing number of African leaders refuse or only grudgingly agree to vacate their positions as presidents when their term of office expires. The key question addressed in the book is: why do African leaders hold on to power beyond their constitutional mandate? The book distinguishes between the first and second generation of African leaders and argues that each generation has its reasons for clinging on to power. It argues that while many of the first generation leaders stayed beyond their constitutional mandate out of a sense of entitlement for leading the independence struggles, the second generation of leaders were mostly animated by greed and insecurity. Using five countries as case studies - Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Zambia and Malawi - the book demonstrates the frequency of this tendency and highlights its impacts on the countries in question.