Arthur Kennedy, a leading member of the NPP has taken a swipe at a comment made by African philanthropist, Mo Ibrahim that advanced age of African leaders is a contributing factor to problems in African.
Arthur Kennedy says the comments from the Sudanese-British billionaire businessman Mo Ibrahim is unfair and needless.
Speaking in Kigali, Mo Ibrahim said, “this continent is continent of young people, look at the average age of our Presidents is about 63, 64 years old, we are the only continent in the world where we have Presidents at 90 years old starting new terms, we see people in wheelchairs unable to wave hands standing for elections”
He also referred to President Obama saying if he had returned to Kenya, considering his age he would be driving a bus instead of dreaming to become a President.
Arthur Kennedy in a write-up argued that to state that Africa has problems is not news but, blaming our elderly leaders mostly for the problems is unfair because the elderly are not necessarily bad at leadership.
With reference to history, Arthur Kennedy said “When Konrad Adenauer became West Germany’s first post-war chancellor in 1949, he was a very mature 73. During his 14-year rule, he laid the foundations of modern Germany.
When the diminutive Deng Xiaoping took the helm in China in 1978, he was 74. He laid the foundations of modern China and set it on the way to being a superpower. Building on what he started, the Chinese have lifted over 700 million people from poverty in the last 4 decades.
Nelson Mandela assumed power as South Africa’s first post-apartheid leader in 1994 at 76 and he has been recognized as a towering leader.
He, therefore, argued that the young are not necessarily good at leadership.
He stated that “Napoleon became the first consul in 1799 and Pitt the Younger became Prime Minister at 24 in 1783, not because of their youth but because of their talent.
Did South Africa improve its leadership by moving from Mandela to the Younger Mbeki? He quizzed.
Arthur Kennedy added that “unless we have lost our memory, Africa has had a lot of young leaders like Toure and Mobutu and Doe and Rawlings and Eyadema and Ojukwu and Gowon and Mengistu and many others. They were the generation of leaders that finished us off for the imperialists”
The Leading NPP member cautioned that leadership is not athletics which requires the ability to jump or run. It requires thinking, innovation, integrity and uniting people.
Adding the problem with Africa is not the age of her leadership. It is the poor quality of our leadership, regardless of age.