Kenya and Rwanda have completed their election cycle and renewing the mandates for their presidents.
In Uganda, we are busy combing the archives for the nearest clue to whether we should or should not respect the 1995 Constitution. Down south in Tanzania, President John Pombe Magufuli has rejected calls from some of his supporters to extend his rule beyond the constitutional two-term limit.
“It is impossible. I will respect the Constitution. I have sworn to defend the Constitution ... I shall play my part and pass on the leadership reins to the next president when the time comes”, Magufuli is quoted as saying.
Mr Bulldozer’s comments come days after meeting Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni as the two signed the agreement for the construction of the Hoima-Tanga oil pipeline and, by extension, discussing the current political swings in the region.
By taking this route of respecting the constitution, clearly, these Tanzanians are not serious! And they have learnt nothing from the best in politics in the region. When your voters and citizens call on you to remain in power, how on earth do you refuse unless you are daft?
A calling to remain in power beyond the mandatory two-term limit is not new in East Africa. Examples are abundant!
Look at the rest of the region, Mr Magufuli, for inspiration. The matter is not about the Constitution. That piece of writing can and will be amended and edited to fulfil the ‘wishes’ of the masses but incarnated in the name of presidency.
So, please do not make the rest of us look bad. Simply tell everyone that the people of the United Republic of Tanzania have poured out their love for you and have asked you to run for another term.
Call parliament in Dodoma and just give each of them some cash and that constitutional provision will be amended very fast. That is how things are done, Mr President. If you need precedence on how, please consult across the border on how the term limits were done away with.
It is a very simple process and it costs you very little. I know, Mr Magufuli, that you are worried that the opposition, Chadema, will go up in arms when you even meekly want to agree that you will stand again after the expiry of your two terms.
But who in the region cares about the opposition? They shout and make all sorts of noise but as long as you are in the driving seat, nothing can fail you to fulfill the wishes of the ‘majority’ Tanzanians.
Like the rest of former Tanzanian presidents, I hear you also want to pass the leadership to another president and retire. Retire to do what? Being a president is now a profession.
You do not easily leave your profession that you have good qualifications for and have practiced well. I hear Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete are still alive and happily living in Tanzania. I understand Mwinyi recently also told you to rule forever and you, again, refused.
Tanzanians never cease to amuse. You are a politician. Voters call on you to remain in power and you tell them that you will retire! Where on earth do these Tanzanians hail from? I thought as good East Africans, you people were going to act like the rest of your neighbours.
Uganda led the way. Burundi followed quickly. Rwanda woke up. Kenya is still studying the situation. South Sudan may never hold elections. So, from an East African point of view, the only group misleading the region is the non- cooperative Tanzanian ruling party (CCM) and its president.
My advice to you, Mr Magufuli, is to take a deep breath. Think about yourself, and not Tanzania. You are anointed and have the true and only vision for Tanzania.
Surely, there is no other person who can take over from you and do the same things you have done. Please do not betray the trust put in you by the many calling for your continued ‘bulldozing’. The moment you accept that call, we will have actualized the total rebirth of the true East African Community.
Otherwise, if you remain ambivalent, you will be sending the wrong message to voters yearning for your leadership till death.
Bottom lime, accept the challenge and remove the term and even age limit so that we can be equal partners as we build the oil pipeline. And please do not tell us that Mwalimu Julius Nyerere would be unhappy with you.
For us in Uganda, we know that he is now a saint and saints are not interested in politics.
The author is a human rights expert and specialist on refugee issues.