Gaborone — President Lt Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama has emphasised the importance of observing the rule of law when it comes to term limits.
The President, who was addressing his farewell kgotla meeting at the Old Francistown Stadium on Friday, noted that every citizen should follow the constitution and added that the President as the head of state should be exemplary in this regard by vacating the office when the term ends.
He also expressed disappointment that some African Presidents did not want to retire when their terms come to an end, as evidenced by self-serving constitutional amendments.
"This is an example of people advancing their own personal interests. Constitutions should only be amended when it is in the public interest," he opined.
Also, he observed that in some countries the amendments include a seven-year term, which means that such leaders stay forever in power.
He also decried the practice of removing age restrictions in constitutions to suit the agenda of particular individuals.
President Khama gave an example of one SADC leader who promised to hold general elections in 2016, but postponed them, saying that the country was not ready for polls.
"As we speak we are already in 2018 and that particular country has still not held elections. This happens when people begin to think that they are entitled to the presidency," he said.
Consequently, President Khama noted that in most of the countries where leaders do not want to vacate office, their populations suffer from a myriad of development challenges.
President Khama also asserted that observing the rule of law included complying with judgments even when they were not happy with them.
He thanked retired High Court judge , Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi for underscoring the need to continue the legacy of complying with the constitutional requirements of term limits.
Further, he applauded the retired judge for his service to the nation and also thanked him for the good work that he did during the SADC-sanctioned Phumaphi Commission to restore law and order in Lesotho.
The President thanked residents of Francistown for the support they gave him during his tenure and the Freedom of the City award, which he was bestowed with during the city's 120th anniversary.
On other issues, he explained that he tried to visit every village in Botswana, but apologised to those that he did not manage to reach.
However, he was hopeful that even in retirement he would still be able to visit and contribute to their economic upliftment through charity work. He also promised residents that next month cabinet would finalise the issue of the Botswana Meat Commission status since cattle were important to the livelihoods of Batswana. President Khama also urged them to support the incoming president and noted that he was grateful for the gifts.
For her part, City of Francistown Mayoress, Ms Sylvia Muzila thanked the president for his exemplary leadership and his contribution to developments in Francistown. He implored the president to continue working with the city in its economic development quest.
Retired Justice Phumaphi on behalf of the city's elders applauded the president for following the mandatory two-term limit as required by the constitution. By doing this, Justice Phumaphi noted that President Khama was following in the footsteps of his predecessors.
"The expectation now is for your successor to follow suit. Countries are in turmoil because of defying the constitutions," he highlighted.
Justice Phumaphi thanked President Khama for following the constitution despite calls from some quarters to stay beyond his term.
This, Justice Phumaphi added, is a big achievement and should not be underestimated.
A representative of people living with disabilities in Francistown, Mr Joseph Nchenje praised the president for his efforts in promoting issues affecting the disabled and appointing one of their own in his office to coordinate their issues.
Due to these efforts, Mr Nchenje acknowledged that today, the disabled benefit from government programmes under the poverty eradication and gender affairs programmes.
People living with disabilities, he said, now own businesses because of the efforts of President Khama.
Residents showered President Khama with gifts including P28 821, six cows, nine goats, two Jojo water tanks, three chickens, two chairs, three hats, a generator and others.
Source : BOPA