The Zimbabwe we want (pt 1): Good leadership is everything

via The Zimbabwe we want: Good leadership is everything (Part 1)  JANUARY 12, 2014 By Vince Musewe and Elton Mangoma

The system we have is not producing the leaders we want and so we must change the system to get different results. Unless we spend time in defining our future as a country, we will find ourselves at a place where we really do not want to be.

This is obvious from our history where, as a people, we left that definition of our future to somebody else; we gave our politicians carte blanche to create our future and we trusted them. We trusted they would make decisions that best serve our aspirations; we were wrong and must not repeat the same mistakes.

The Zimbabwe we want is a series of articles that will be emerging from my regular conversations about the future with Elton Mangoma, in his personal capacity as a Zimbabwean who has vested interests in contributing to a national dialogue about the future we want.

We both hope that readers will be attracted and encouraged to contribute their ideas so that we may together, create psychological momentum towards change and usher in a better future for our country.

By continually focusing on what we want, we will create positive energy towards the outcomes that we desire most, as compared to continually dwelling on the negative past which we cannot change.

The foundation and progress of any nation can mostly be attributed to the quality of leadership of that nation. Good leaders have a clear vision of the future of the country and care for the people. Where we have good leaders, it goes without saying that, we will experience their goodness as reflected in how they govern and in public and private institutions that emanate during their tenure.

Where good leadership lacks, as is in our case now, nations will regress as the value systems promoted or represented by bad leadership behaviour permeate all sectors of society.

Although Zimbabwe has all the human and natural resources to develop rapidly, the lack of good leadership has made all these resources we possess redundant. Our future cannot be the same.

In order to understand why people in political leadership in Zimbabwe behave the way they do, and seem indifferent to the consequences of the bad decisions that they make, we need to appreciate why they are the way they are. We must seek to understand our problem situation first before we can remedy it.

Our observations are simple; most of our current leaders come from struggle days and their mental model on how the world operates continues to be influenced by their experiences then.

In the bush, it was survival of the fittest and our leaders essentially operated in two simple mental spheres; you are either a friend or an enemy. If we extrapolate this to today, you either support ZANU (PF) or you are an enemy.

These were exactly the slogans used in the past to motivate and encourage combatants (now war veterans) and communities to support the armed struggle effort. We still hear it today where, according to our politicians, the problems we are experiencing today are a result of the enemy out there.

Where leaders think in this dichotomy, they will continue to seriously believe that there is an enemy out there and if that is not the truth, they will manufacture enemies.

Our questions are thus; can our current leaders be able to serve the interest of the country and all Zimbabweans regardless of their political affiliation? Can they represent the interests of Zimbabweans in general? Can they be able to give their best to national interest? Can they tolerate those who differ?

The answer for all the above is of course not.

Political power without leadership is dangerous as we have seen here in Zimbabwe. The priority of those in power is to stay in power and as a result, our country can never experience its full potential until we change our leadership. The Zimbabwe we want cannot be led by leaders who have a partisan agenda and will only look after their own.

The Zimbabwe we want needs an inclusive economic and social agenda that seeks to deliver value to all citizens. It must be led by a completely different type of leader. It must be led by leaders who have a high self-esteem and who do not rule by instilling fear or violence in perceived enemies. It must be led by leaders who appreciate that their role is to facilitate development and allow others to lead where necessary.

The leaders we want must have a compelling vision for our country driven by purpose. Our leaders must be open to being questioned and challenged so that they may make better decisions. It cannot be a crime to criticise the President.

Past leaders have sought political power as an end in itself and so we have individuals with political power but bad leadership. In the Zimbabwe we want, leadership must be a privilege for those who have the competency to lead and not a politically acquired right or entitlement.

If we assume that indeed we can get such leaders in Zimbabwe, the question would be what should we expect them to do in order for Zimbabwe to rise?

The first step must be to create a participative democracy where the constitution is sacrosanct. This participative democracy we speak of must be led by the people; leaders represent the interest of stakeholders and facilitate the attainment of the country’s full potential.

A participative democracy means that every citizen has a right not only to vote, but to continually challenge the status quo for the good of the country. It also requires us as citizens to take responsibility for creating the circumstances we want without fear.

We need leaders who are not threatened by the truth; leaders who are not threatened by the opinions of others, but encourage and embrace robust debate on everything; leaders who know that they don’t know what they don’t know and therefore must shed the “god complex” of knowing it all.

We also cannot afford personality cults to develop in the Zimbabwe we want for that is the birth place of dictators. The answers that we need to revive Zimbabwe cannot be only found in the brains of one man or one political party or one organisation. The myriad of opinions and ideas about our future must be encouraged and harnessed from all citizens for our good.

Above all in the Zimbabwe we want, we want leaders who are value driven and not money driven; leaders who are genuinely concerned about the well-being of all citizens regardless of race, tribe or political affiliation. We shall require leaders who are principled and are not driven by material accumulation but by serving the needs of citizens.

It is therefore imperative that we acquire the leaders we want, for Zimbabwe to surely rise.

Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. Elton Mangoma is a Zimbabwean politician and entrepreneur. You may contact Vince directly on



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16 comments on “The Zimbabwe we want (pt 1): Good leadership is everything
  1. Canuck says:

    Good comment as usual Vince, but I am afraid that I have the same response as to Tendai Biti’s news item posted above yours herein…….what the hell are you (or anyone in Zim ) going to do to change the moribund, smelly, situation there ???…….change CAN ONLY come from within and so those of us outside the country who would be ECSTATIC to see our way clear to deploy substantial capital in Zim await a set of laws that will allow us to do so……and the present Indig. laws have to be GONE for that to happen……investment DOES NOT flow to countries where the Gvt. grabs all successful ventures through slim disguise……

  2. Ephrain Gumbo says:

    The sub Saharan continent of Africa possesses the richest minerals in the world. We possess the greatest agriculture potential in the world through our rich soils and abundance of water. Yet some 40 – 50 years after independence we all remain so desperately poor and oppressed, our basic infrastructures such as schools, universities, hospitals, roads all essentials elements in building a nation, all deteriorating not through any former colonial master but through the greed and incompetence of our own leaders. When will we ever come to terms with reality? And this applies not just to Zimbabweans but the rest of sub Saharan Africa. All of us have to possess the courage to challenge and resist this nonsense…how much more do we have to suffer?

  3. dzungu says:

    Vince & Elton
    Gentlemen, I want to salute you for starting this important debate-leadership is not only everything, it is the only thing. A country‘s & a continent’s level of development is direct consequence of it’s leadership. Look @ Western Europe before & after World war 11, mostly dictatorships before & democratic after & the results have been relative prosperity socially, politically & economically.

    Look @ our country Zimbabwe & our continent of Africa- perfect case study of poor leadership & corrupt governance. The results speak for themselves loud & clear. In a country where the governing leadership is relatively clean– the results will be generally be positive. Where the leadership is corrupt or perceived to be corrupt- corruption permeates to all levels of society. Unfortunately I believe that is where Zimbabwe is now firmly anchored. Nobody believes the government is clean & as a result citizens are doing whatever they can to survive. Being honest, hard working & straight forward is nor longer a virtue but a character of those who are naïve that will not bring food to the table. For if leadership in Zimbabwe was relatively clean & hard working, Zimbabwe would surely not be where it is today? Those in leadership position in government have become very rich & nobody knows where their wealth was originates from- other than graft. While the leadership has gotten rich the country & citizens have become poorer & poorer. All Zimbabweans are far poorer socially, politically & economically than ALL Rhodesians. How does one explain this dichotomy?

  4. John Thomas says:

    ZANU responds to pressure from the public. They have changed their policies many times in the face of public resistance. The policies that have ruined the economy enjoy the support of many Zimbabweans.

  5. Tafadzwa says:

    Noble views. Totally true. Part of the problem in Zimbabwe, there too many people who brush aside the corruption and poor governamce in Zimbabwe. So the question is what is stopping the people of Zimbabwe from claiming getting better leaders ? Surely, even as Mugabe steals elections, it has to be true, that he has some support, maybe in the region 30 %. So why do some people still support the status quo ? maybe as a country we deserve he current leaders /

    Those of us who live in diaspora do notice the backward mentality of the old ways of doing things in Zimbabwe, yet we are silenced by the unfounded accusation of being out of touch.

  6. Murimi Wanhasi says:

    I distrust Mangoma coz of the way he handled the Chisumbanje issue.
    Is it really a crime to criticize the president?or is he referring to those who call him unprintable names and the overzealous who deface his portraits.
    Overall,its a well written piece,but with textbook ideology,which has never seen the light of day in Africa.
    We had a taste of the alternative,and what I saw is that even the currrent MDC fails dismally to fit into what these gentlemen aspire.
    We can improve,clamp down on corruption,etc but hey,to be realistic,tribal dynamics,clan dynamics down to tottem dynamics, would have to be addressed in Africa before u can get their vision to work

  7. masvukupete says:

    My half a cent of contribution.

    The euphoria of 1980 ushered in a leadership that was totally devoid of any working experience. Experience is the best teacher with the presence of good checks and balances. The western systems know this and that is why they do strive and have independent arms of governance. Most good leaders are more controlled by conscience rather than laws. In every progressing nation the constitutional court becomes the center of conscience and thus interpret the law according to the dictates of the social morality. We need leaders who are above the dictates of the law who are supposed to see what the law strives to achieve. The law should not be the end in itself but conscience morality of having leaders who interpret the law not on what is stated in the constitution but what interpret the law on what it is trying to achieve. Without this type of leadership in all INDEPENDENT arms of the state we will never go anywhere. The land reform could have been executed within the dictates of the law yet we allowed it to turn into a bloodsucking revenge seeking exercise against the white people for supporting the MDC yet they had been protected by ZPF for more than 20 years. Leaders should be driven foremost conscience and morality rather than egos.

  8. Msizeni silwelani says:

    I agree with the opinion that we have been betrayed by those whom we trusted to lead the struggle, after the oppressor was defeated, they envied the life that the predator lived, the leafy suburbs and other symbols of power or conquer. We curse ourselves for celebrating our victory over the enemy and forgeting to put checks and balances on our very own predators from within. The guys just grew arrogant and believed they can decide unchallenged what is immoral or not for us. Unfortunately, like when the coloniser arrived, they used some among us to entrench their grip on power in the same manner the former oppressor did. Until we realise this, only then shall we free ourselves from contemporary exploitation disguised as empowerment.

  9. Mudhakisi says:

    We cannot solve today’s problems at the same level of thinking we had when we created them (Einstein)

    The really sad truth is that Zimbabwe or any other African country will not get out of poverty because of the level of greed and corruption that the Asians, Europians and Americans will capitalise on, and fuel wars, influence governments etc.

    And the average Zimbabwean with his western education will not fight, they will simply make a plan. And that is how limited we are as Zimbabweans. To be sucessful, people have to be HUNGRY for it. To have that defined purpose, and unfortunately, there isnt much hope for a nation that pins its future on an act of God.

  10. NBS says:

    Leadership is critical. And in Zim we don’t have any although I believe there is a lot of potential. The potential has just been totally squashed. And masvukupete is right. Our land reform could have been done in any number of successful ways that were fair and benefitted the whole nation and gave ‘new farmers’ an opportunity and instead we threw the baby out with the bath water and cut off our nose to spite our face! Our land reform has to be one of the most destructive policies I have ever seen. Form what motive was it really driven I wonder. I salute this vision because a man without vision perishes and we need to begin to start respecting other vies and begin talking to one another like a nation. We need to star somewhere. And a godly solution is vital by the way. Trusting God does not mean sitting back and doing nothing. lets begin by dropping the hate speech forgiving one another and by telling the truth.

  11. Khaya'bonina says:

    Its all nonsence , Smith died long back , the question of an enermy out there as an excuse is bull— , these greedy madalas must swift and retire , thats it .

  12. Khaya'bonina says:

    @NBS , we can only start talking and appreciating one another after Mugabe goes off the seat , remember we the Guguraundi victims we will accept the situation after he goes of the seat or die not now , sorry don’t try to be a man of good while sitting inside a pig-sty .

  13. Chaka says:

    True Vince, but unfortunately there was one Mandela. The problem we have as humans is that we can only rely on promises during aspiring leaders’ campaigns. Once they get in power it’s a surprise. While your views are absolute facts the question is how to we pick good leaders. If we have to vote for them let there be a public opinion barometer after 6 months in office and if 40% like him allow another 6 months and he does not improve he be removed. I would differ with you though on the issue of previous records. The constitution is every leader’s guidline, if he does not adopt a provision should be made for him to be out. What do we do with a position where we vote for him, he does not abide by the constitution and suddenly becomes momentorily mad and kills the people he should be protecting. International law says he is immune and you are stack with him. With this I would request you Vince to come up with a strategy of identifying good leaders.

  14. Khaya'bonina says:

    man of God while sitting inside a pig sty

  15. adalandoinda says:

    Mrs.Gracia Mandela got it right.SOCIAL JUSTICE.
    The ability of each and every Zimbabwean to enjoy the fruits and benefits of the country.
    The problem is access.In every system ,access is deliberately denied to give designated groups opportunity.Every constituency believes they are entitled.
    Historically ,this was overcome by transferring the chieftainship between the various families in leadership.
    Today , can we come up with a system that enables the people to have the access to the country’s resources without a system of discrimination on the basis of colour, creed , sex ,tribe educational background, etc?
    No political party has been able to surmount this hurdle.
    What do we as a people aspire to be ? Civilised ? Rural? Progressive ? in whose eyes? The WEST?The EAST?
    We as a nation need to determine what is best for the future of our children,create the environment where they learn to adapt and provide a solid constitutional precedent.

    • When the Politicians answer to the people and the Leader of a country lets Parliament get on with making laws then only will we start to see true democracy. The politics of this country dictate that the people answer to the Politicians. Ministers behave like the People are their subjects when they should be subjected to the peoples aspirations. The head of state will reverse any legislation he does’t like so that makes Parliament impotent. The people have no say because it’s a SHUT UP SPEAK UP situation. When the MP’s go to Parliament they are already instructed to vote a certain way. We fought for Majority rule yet a minority of people force laws onto the masses at their whim. They go to Parliament to fight and shout at each other instead of finding ways of sorting out the things that are dogging the populace such as access to services, access to clean water,accommodation and access to education for our children and availability of jobs. But we will prevail. Only God has no end.

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