Rwandan President Paul Kagame has declined to say whether he will retire when his second elective term in office ends in 2017, saying personalising succession other than institutions devalues the debate on the future of democracy in Rwanda and Africa.
“The exercising of power seen as governance process, seen as tokens given by individual, is about what you do when you are there rather than leaving the scene,” Mr Kagame said. “It’s like when I go, I am likely to be rewarded for that, than for what I have done when I am there. Rights and processes should not be zeroed to an individual,” he added.
The Rwandan leader was addressing a pan African Youth conference in Kigali as part of the activities to commemorate the 20th anniversary for the Rwanda liberation.
Mr Kagame was responding, during an interactive session, to a question put to him by a youth from Uganda, Mr Victor Ochieng, whether he would be the African leader to emulate global icon Nelson Mandela and hand over power without difficulty. Mr Ochieng also wondered why elderly African leaders were afraid of the youth taking over from them.
The president asked the youth from 44 countries that the pre-occupation of Africans should be on creation of situations, systems and institutions where things happen and not a decision of one individual.
Mr Kagame dismissed the notion that there was a divide between the youth and the old in the body-politic of Africa. “It shouldn’t sound ‘it’s the young versus the old.’ If we don’t unite and there is a seamless relationship, then there is a problem”.
Earlier, Mr Kagame said democracy did not have a scientific formula applicable to all nations. He said each country must come up with a mechanism that works best for its citizens “even with trial and error.”
“This is what builds democracy and sustains peace. But if we lack in confidence, we will always fall back in the mountain, again and again,” he said as the youth applauded.
Mr Kagame said it was time for African countries to shake off the yoke of low expectations attached to Africans and their governments by the so called developed nations.
Citing Kigali, he said some Western and African visitors are usually surprised by the lawfulness, cleanliness and orderliness of the capital, Kigali, run down by genocide only 20 years ago.
He said the low expectations of the Africans had been exhibited even at the World Cup where all the four nations from the continent were eliminated.
“I watch the World Cup in my free time. But I feel like punching the screen. You have these African players… as individuals they are the best but as a team….,” he said, without completing a statement. “I wish I was their coach.”