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Tuesday, 2 April, 2002, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
How should Africa treat its ex-presidents?
Zambia's former president, Frederick Chiluba, has been replaced not only as head of state, but as leader of the ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy, MMD.

After elections last December, Chiluba was succeeded by Levy Mwanawasa as president, but managed to maintain control of the MMD.

This caused a split in the ruling party.

According to Vice-President Enoch Kavindele: "There has been divided loyalty, and in the interest of party unity we agreed that Mwanawasa should take over from Chiluba".

Has Chiluba been unfairly sidelined? Should Africa's former heads of state be given any role in governing their countries?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

I strongly feel that Ex African leaders should not be involved in government after they leave office, they should live a private life and stay away from politics, because the president has his own potential, agenda, and visions for the country. If the ex-president's advice is needed then that is different case. but he should stay out of politics and be meaningful in other areas of the country.
Paul Ngessah, New Jersey, USA

No, African leaders should not be allowed to intervene in politics after their term of office, unfortunately we can only boast of two honourable leaders, Julius Nyerere and Nelson Mandela.
Bola Ogunkoya, London, England

His public statements must be guarded and should be in the genuine desire to see the country progress.

Patrick, Ghana
Yes, African leaders who relinquish power voluntarily and through the ballot box should be deemed to have the progress of their countries at heart and thus should be given the chance to contribute to the good governance of their people. Their honest and progressive opinions should be sought behind the scenes by the sitting leader. But this should be based on some conditions such as the ex-leader effectively retiring from active politics or trying to upstage the sitting leader. His public statements must be guarded and should be in the genuine desire to see the country progress. In other words they must earn such an honourable role by behaving responsibly after leaving office.
Patrick, Ghana

I think Mr. Chiluba had more honour to gain by resigning his post as party chairman the moment he relinquished power. This has made him less respectable. African presidents ought to learn that being in power is not eternal, they ought to retire and now assume the role of grand father ( grand mother if any ladies ever become African presidents) I only call upon all presidents in power to show respect and treat former presidents well, this will help minimise undue persistence in power. It is not easy to become a former president so all those who achieve it ought to be respected, looked after and consulted when advice is needed.
Lawrence Ssenkubuge, Uganda

Former heads of state should be given a meaningful role to play outside politics. To encourage a culture of leaving office gracefully, it is important for the corporate business and the international organisations to honour these leaders and where possible find roles for them. Democracy and good governance in Africa is elusive because of the fear of the unknown after leaving office by these leaders.
Mathias Kulubya, Ugandan in U.K

Former heads of states have the potential to undermine subsequent regimes.

Sula Mazimba, USA/Zambian
Most African countries are still nurturing their budding democracies. Even in the seemingly most democratic states in Africa, one still sees vestiges of totalitarianism. Former heads of states have the potential to undermine subsequent regimes. However former heads of states' contributions to their countries must be individually evaluated based on their past performance.
Sula Mazimba, USA/Zambian

I believe that the choice on whether to participate in the country's current political and economic developments should be left to the ex-presidents to decide. Some of them prefer to work more in the private sector for a particular cause such as the environment, reduction of the spread of aids etc. It is important that we let the former president lead their own lives unless there are questionable issues that took place during their presidency.
Christopher Ketter, Kenya

I don't think that the question requires a "yes or no" answer. It depends on the past leadership of the former heads of state. Some former heads of state still have the potentials and capabilities to move their respective country's forward, in spite of their early retirement. Yet, the fear of greed causes some African Nations to consider the ideas of allowing ex heads of state to be given any role in governing their Countries. This is one of the reasons why every head of state must practice the form of democracy, and govern their own people with fairness, love and justice. "What goes around, comes around." Good leaders are trained, not made.
David A. Sunday-gar, Liberia/USA

No, I believe that it is important to give the newly elected President an opportunity to reform and change the old status quo as he is pleased. Having a former President around will limit the extent to which the new President can operate as the former's respect and allegiance does not end with their departure from office.
Gabriel Laizer, Tanzania

The world according to Shakespeare is a stage. You play your role and you exit for another cast.

Cillaty Daboh, USA/Sierra Leone
The world according to Shakespeare is a stage. You play your role and you exit for another cast. Chiluba was on stage and played his role. Whether he exited the stage while the ovation was on is for history to decide. But the people of Zambia have rendered their verdict. I therefore do not believe that he has been unfairly sidelined. Instead, I believe he wanted a role he did not audition for. Was he not the one that pushed the laws for what is happening to him? Instead of Chiluba being angry he should be happy that the laws he enacted are working effectively. Depending on a former African leader's record while in power, he/she may have a role to play in the governance of their nation with the understanding that their acting days are over and they are only playing advisory roles. Sadly though I can only think of Mandela out of the many crooks that have exited the stage or been forced off the stage. Whatever the case with Chiluba I salute the people of Zambia for saying NO to dictatorship.
Cillaty Daboh, USA/Sierra Leone

Certainly, some ex-African leaders deserve roles. People like Mandela, Kaunda and a few others can help change the continent's leaders because they would preach what they believe and stand for. Mr. Chiluba, I am afraid is a man who is known for his hypocrisy, manipulations and outward crookedness. What can he offer after all this his done to Zambia. The country is more divided now as everything is been turned into "small" influential groupings based on tribal lines. Even his imposition of Mr. Mwanawasa on Zambians was designed to suit his whims of ego, but soon realised how life can change. Well, if he has any reasonable offer to help, he should first face the law and come clean before we can look toward him for anything.
Bob, Japan

An ex-African head of state who either retires or concedes defeat in the elections should be consulted vis a vis national affairs. People like the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the late Leopold Senghor, Kenneth Kaunda, Nelson Mandela and Serese Khama (to mention a few) were and are still true African leaders and heroes who deserve the highest praise. Zambians are good people and no doubt have no intention to sideline Frederick Chiluba. Chiluba's strategy to manipulate others has caught up with him. This is the man who wanted to change the constitution to suit his political agenda. This very man divided the MMD. Zambians just want to make sure that Chiluba honours what he said while in office, "No one leader can have the monopoly of knowledge and power. Leaders come leaders go". The hour has come for Chiluba to politically say good bye.
Nsambila Cecilio Mbolela, Chicago-USA-Zambian

They should completely leave politics for charity or international jobs.

Joel Zama, Germany
I think former leaders should not be given a role after their term of office to govern. They should completely leave politics for charity or international jobs. It┐s a problem if they are left to continue governing. There are enough people in the country who can do the job and even better.
Joel Zama, Germany

The importance of Chiluba as the head of state can not be undermined, his wisdom is really needed for the prosperity of Zambia, but that does not mean that he shouldn┐t give room for younger generation in order to get new ideas, His role as former president should be to give advice on how things should go right in case of any wrongdoing.
Dickson Makobwe, Tanzania

Most African former leaders should not be given any role to govern their countries because they have never been democratic. They behave as if are still presidents when they are out of power! This tendency causes a lot of confusion in most upcoming democratic African nations.
D, Zambia

Chiluba has not been unfairly sidelined. Considering his leadership record - which has always been that of manipulations, he has been placed where he rightfully belongs i.e. the archives. If Chiluba was allowed to continue being in charge of the MMD, he would have likely come up with another crazy idea like the third term debate.
Stan Chewe, Zambia

Most African Presidents are more concerned with personal aggrandisement rather than building a respectable personality that would make them useful/ resourseful to the society.
Makajackoyo N.Roberts, Kenya

Their role should be limited to advisory and ceremonial positions

Geogio Hayunga, Zambian in UK
Only those former heads of state who served with loyalty should be given a chance to run the affairs of their countries. Their role should, however, be limited to advisory and ceremonial positions rather than playing on the active political landscape.

Chiluba has not been unfairly sidelined. Both his last phases of party and state presidency were self-imposed through corrupt practices. Dr. Kenneth Kaunda deserves the respect that he is now enjoying among Zambians.
Geogio Hayunga, Zambian in UK

It very important that former African Leaders should be involved in the political affairs of their respective countries, so as to utilize the experience they gained as leaders. Remember that experience is a good teacher but at the same time it requires a lot of time to gain experience
Davis Sado, Malawi

No they shouldn't participate directly in governing but can be consultants for some issues that are critical for national unity. Fortunately we had a few African leaders like the late Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Sedar Sengol of Senegal and the late Seretse Khama of Bostwana, who continued serving their nations indirectly when challenging issues arose.
Simba Makona, Zambia

President's burden

Opposition leaders


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22 Mar 02 | Africa
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