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 firstname.lastname@example.org