African democracy must grow to the point that previous presidents will not battle their successors, according to Mr Julius Malema, Commander-In-Chief of South Africa’s far-left political party, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
Speaking at a public dialogue organised in Accra by Ghanaian socialist pressure group AriseGhana on Tuesday, 23 January 2024, Mr. Malema said: “You have to ensure that democracy matures in such a manner in Africa, where the previous president does not make it his business to fight the current president, you must allow the new to lead with all their force because you were the same, it doesn’t mean you are perfect”.
“No African leader, who is on retirement, should lead from the grave. They must all be like all other progressive former presidents who are statements at home, waiting for courtesy visits and consultations, and attending to other state functions. Those are the duties of former presidents because Africa must be stable, Africa must go through democracy at all times,” Mr Malema added.
Mr. Malema also advised African leaders to refrain from imposing themselves on their people beyond what is legally required.
“We call on all African leaders not to leave an office with a coffin. When the time comes for them to go, they must leave without calling the army to extend their tenure. No one is born a leader, and no one is a traditional leader in a political office. If you want to be a traditional leader, go and fight in your tribe for those type of issues, we don’t subscribe to people who want to leave a political office with a coffin,” he added.
“We will still give you a state funeral because you are a former President, we will still pay you pensions and give you protection and take care of you as long as you respect those who came after you”, Mr Malema noted.
On the other hand, he warned the youth not to use unjust measures to remove the older generation from power.
“We, as a younger generation of Africa, we must not seek to get rid of the old in a desperate manner to a point where we destroy institutional memory,” he said.
Rather, “We must always make sure that the old co-exist with the young but the old must be prepared to pass the wisdom to the young ones. Because, at some point, the old must die for the new to emerge and it is not me calling for the killing of the elderly African leaders, nature dictates that the old at some point must die for the new to emerge”.
“But this new must be prepared to learn from the old,” Mr. Malema clarified.
For example, he said: “I was in Liberia yesterday and I saw the inauguration of an old president, I got so worried but when I saw Vice President, I left Liberia in a very comfortable way, because I saw a generational mix, where the old and the young co-exist in one office and I hope the Vice President will not be suffocated because the president must know that with all his experience and advanced age, he has a duty to pass the baton to the younger generation.”