The head of state was responding to Korogwe Rural Member of Parliament Stephen Ngonyani, popularly known as Professor Maji Marefu, who said he and his fellow MPs and citizens were praying that the President stays in office for more than 20 years.
In his speech, Ngonyani said: “We ask you Honourable President to extend your time in office because 10 years aren’t enough for you; we are ready to amend the constitution in Parliament so that you can lead us for more than 10 years.”
Similarly, in June this year, during Eid El Fitr prayers at Mnazi Mmoja grounds in Dar e Salaam, retired President Ali Hassan Mwinyi said that if it was not for the Constitution, he would have recommended that President Magufuli lead the country ‘forever’.Section 40 (2) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania states that ‘no person shall be elected more than twice to hold the office of President’.
Speaking at the launch of the Korogwe City Council main bus stand in Tanga Region, President Magufuli said that he took oath to respect the Constitution; hence he could not act otherwise.
“When my friend (Ngonyani) said that he wants me to lead the country for 20 years, I understood him that he wanted me to live for 20 more years, but not 20 years in office...the latter is impossible because I respect the Constitution,” said the President.
He said he had no plans to amend the Constitution to stay in power for more than the stipulated two terms.
Two East African Community (EAC) member states, Uganda and Rwanda, have a history of shifting political goal posts to allow the incumbent president to continue staying in power.
In 2005, Uganda's Parliament overwhelmingly backed the removal of presidential term limits. A total of 232 MPs voted in favour of the motion, 50 against and one abstained.
And in 2015, Rwandan citizens approved a referendum to amend the country’s Constitution. Reportedly, 98 per cent of the voters agreed to the revision of Article 101, allowing President Kagame to run in last week’s elections.
The recent statement by the retired President Mwinyi raised concerns that he was ready to contravene the Constitution, which stipulates that the President should be in power for five years and further five years, only if he or she is re-elected.
Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) had also reacted over President Mwinyi’s remarks that Magufuli should remain in power ‘forever,’ saying the statement contradicted to national laws and breached the rule of law as the principal pillars for democracy.Speaking on the modern bus stand, Magufuli said it had been constructed by the government at a total cost of 4bn/-.
He urged the residents to preserve it by ensuring security of its facilities. “You have to consider the cost incurred in constructing it. There shouldn’t be stiff conditions and impediments in securing grocery stores, and Korogwe residents are supposed to be given first priority in owning shops within the stand,” said Magufuli.
He warned the director against offering favours to individuals seeking to acquire the stalls. He said that Korogwe was among 11 city councils within which the government planned to construct a modern bus stand. For her part, the Minister for health Ummy Mwalimu said that the government had set aside 376m/- from an initial 90m/- for the health budget for Korogwe City Council. He said the availability of medicine in the country was at 80 per cent as the government had increased essential medicines.