Do people truly understand what being a nation’s president means? Do we appreciate what that role entails?
If we did, why, then, would anyone regard this as some lofty position, which renders the incumbent untouchable and unanswerable?
When citizens from across the world, especially, in the Western hemisphere, decided to rebel against their monarchs, centuries ago – even taking up arms in wars of revolution – they had become sick and tired of kings and queens, who were unelected by anyone, considered themselves demi-gods, would rule with unparalleled power and impunity, answerable to no one, and a law unto themselves.
They were fed up with rulers who feasted lavishly, and lived opulently – at the expense of the citizens’ taxes, yet who, themselves wallowed in abject poverty, were subjugated and regarded as mere subjects, and brutalized if ever they dared speak out, or stand up against such evil cruelty.
The citizens of those countries fought for republics – in which, the people ruled themselves, through choosing one of their own to hold certain positions of responsibility on behalf of the rest of the population, thereby, being answerable to those who would have deployed them.
As such, a president, as an elected head of state, was not a replacement or replica of a king or queen – neither was he or she a little god – but, was just one of the crowd, whom had been entrusted with running the affairs of the country.
I always envision the concept of democracy and a republic, as a group of siblings coming together to establish a family business enterprise – after which, they choose amongst themselves, each according to their strengths and capabilities, who to take on certain responsibilities.
Therefore, the one viewed as possessing exceptional visionary leadership qualities, may be appointed the chief executive officer, the one good with managing finances can be made the accounting officer, the one with the gift of the gab may be placed to lead the sales and marketing department, and so forth.
Nonetheless, in spite of holding particularly decision-making “powers”, the sibling appointed CEO can never regard him or herself as suddenly being superior than the rest of the family (who can order them around) nor, somehow now untouchable, and no longer answerable to the rest of the family – since, they will still be all equal shareholders, with none more important or more powerful than the others.
This simple concept is what similarly relates to any democracy and republic – all citizens are equal shareholders to the country, and there is no position whatsoever that makes anyone more special and important than the rest.
The same applies to the president, as the CEO of the country – who, as in the example above, is just one of the citizenry, but chosen, based on particular traits and qualities, to be responsible for the day to day running of the state’s affairs.
Nothing more, and nothing less.
It was, therefore, very shocking listening to the South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa – as he gave his testimony to the Zondo Commission of Enquiry into State Capture, saying that certain southern African regional leaders had quizzed him as why a whole head of state would subject himself to all this questioning.
I will not bother guessing which president would call Ramaphosa with such a ridiculous question – although, I have a name or two in my mind.
Thank goodness, we still have at least one sane leader in this region, since Ramaphosa clearly understood his role better than his colleagues, and proceeded to attend the enquiry, and subjected himself to the probe.
Nevertheless, such thinking by our presidents was most disturbing. Who do they think they are? What makes them believe they are so special and above everyone else, that they are not answerable to the electorate?
Such ignorance – or, is it, arrogance – is most worrying, and quite frankly, unacceptable, in this day and age, when the world had moved away from monarchies.
If anything, holding such an office of president, renders the occupant more accountable to the people than any other citizen.
Each decision has to be placed under intense scrutiny, and every action questioned.
Any president who considers him or herself above such tenets, clearly has no grasp of his or her office, has no business being there, and may be considered a dictator – since, in a democracy and republic, turning oneself from being a leader, into a ruler, is a sign of tyranny.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: email@example.com