via ‘Africa needs younger leaders’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe May 22, 2014 by Ndamu Sandu
SUDANESE-BRITISH billionaire Mo Ibrahim yesterday said the young generation should be in leadership to drive African economies as they have the energy and power, in remarks aimed at President Robert Mugabe.
The philanthropist, who was a panellist on the Leadership for the Africa We Want session in Rwanda, said young people on the continent should be given the task to lead.
He said the average age of Presidents on the continent was about 63 years.
“We are the only continent where we have a President at 90 years starting a new term. Are you crazy or not? We see people in wheelchairs unable to raise hands standing for elections. This is a joke,” he said amid thunderous applause.
“You are right to laugh; the whole world is laughing at us.”
Mugabe celebrated his 90th birthday in February. He will be 94 years when he completes his term in 2018. Mugabe is currently in Singapore for “routine medical check-up”.
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika won elections and was sworn in in a wheelchair in April.
Ibrahim went for the jugular saying bigger economies like the United States had entrusted its future in President Barack Obama, who will be turning 53 years in August this year.
“Why do bigger countries entrust their economies in the hands of those in the 40s? We pick people in the 90s to lead us. To lead us where? To the grave?”
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki said there was need for critical self-assessment, but there was no peer review among leaders as they were afraid to do so.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame said succession was important, but had been reduced to an end in itself “to the extent that if you are in power and you did nothing, but have a successor, you are good”.
“We put succession plans on Presidents saying when are you going? Will you go? It shouldn’t be like that,” Kagame said.
Mugabe recently said that he did not have a successor because people had to choose one.
Yesterday’s high-level event is part of the meetings held during the annual indaba of the African Development Bank Group.
This year’s annual meetings opened on Monday and will close tomorrow in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.