Saturday, January 19, 2008

Standards of jackals, hyenas

Standards of jackals, hyenas
By Editor
Saturday January 19, 2008 [03:00]

No one can question the fact that generally leaders of the First Republic had very high moral standards. And we agree with finance minister Ng’andu Magande that they also exhibited these high moral standards in the way they managed public finances and other resources. This is not the situation today. Most politicians are certainly not in politics or government for public service but for personal benefit.

The leaders of the First Republic were indeed, in many respects, very honest and selfless people. If they were in any small way crooked, nothing would have been left for today’s selfish and greedy politicians to steal or amass. They would have shared all the lands amongst themselves and for anyone to get land they would have to buy from them. But very few of them own any meaningful acres of land. They are today among our poor and vulnerable old people.

But we shouldn’t forget to learn from them in terms of virtues, principles, standards and commitment to public service. We say this because to them integrity was the foundation of leadership. They showed a very high sense of perspective and priority as they struggled for what they could change and accepted what could not be changed.

They demonstrated the importance of incorruptibility as part of the essence of self-respect. While appreciating opportunities to enjoy the good life, they generally refused to use their positions to get themselves anything that wasn’t their due.

And there is one extra special quality of these First Republic leaders which these leaders had and which deserves to be mentioned – that is a self-confidence, a sense and strength of identity that was far beyond their generally modest formal education and experience.

When one tries to discern what motivated these leaders to do what they did, it is clear that it was not a selfish fulfillment of personal ambition or pleasure but a genuine desire to serve their people and their country.

We should always give thanks to their humanity because with it they created a good country and a relatively decent nation for us. There are two major motivations that lead people to behave in the way they did. One is religious. The Fatherhood of Almighty God betokens the brotherhood and sisterhood of fellow citizens. We are all God’s children, responsible for the well-being of everyone in our country, commanded to reach out the hand of help to the other.

Social justice and benevolent action are as old as the Bible. The prophet Amos, for example, stoutly defended the oppressed, thundered with indignation against the idle rich for their ill-treatment of the poor. “Let justice well up as the waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream” (Amos 5:24).

The second motivation is humanitarian – it springs from a deep sense of identification with one’s people, with the oppressed, the ability to hear their cry, an acute awareness of the realities of poverty, a personal anguish at the suffering of fellow human beings, fellow countrymen and women. And generally the humanity of the First Republic leaders was boundless and inspirational. Positively and purposefully one had to strive to ameliorate widespread poverty and hardship, to build a society based on harmony and equality, in which every single individual would be respected. This was their driving force: to better the living conditions of the entire population.

A great freedom fighter, the Reverend Martin Luther King, once said, “we are all inextricably bound together in a single garment of destiny.” Our First Republic leaders brought the fulfillment of that dream, that we are all part of one big caring Zambian family, so much closer.

We should appreciate that it is not genius, nor glory, nor even love which truly reflect the human soul – it is kindness. All our fellow citizens, like Magande, who remember what these First Republic leaders did, the good standards of honesty and integrity in public life they set, their selflessness will forever cherish them in their hearts.

They taught us that a leader should have largeness of mind, looking upon the interests of the people, of the nation as his very life and subordinating his personal interests to those of the nation, to those of the people; always and everywhere he or she should adhere to principle and wage a tireless struggle against bad practices, so as to consolidate the collective life of our nation. Only thus can he be considered a true leader.

Every leader must be brought to understand that the supreme test of the deeds of a leader is whether they conform with the highest interests of the people. At no time and in no circumstances should he place his personal interests first; he should subordinate them to the interest of the nation and of the masses. Hence, selfishness, corruption, and so on, should be most contemptible, while selflessness, working with all one’s energy, whole-hearted devotion to public duty, and quiet hard work will command respect.

The exemplary role of a leader is of vital importance. They should set an example in all they do.

This may sound like utopia. We say this because people have given up seeking high values and standards from their leaders. Politics and leadership has become an arena and an undertaking of foxes, hyenas and jackals. All sorts of scoundrels today find themselves in very important and senior political positions to simply enrich themselves.

This is not a permanent phase, it is certainly not a progressive phase but a reactionary one which will one day come to pass. A progressive wave will inevitably one day sweep our country again and it will bring with it leaders with standards and values as those of the First Republic. This is our hope and this is our faith. What progressive people in this country need is patience. Principles they already have, opportunities there will be.

Their time will come and the foxes, hyenas and jackals will run away. Everything has got a time. But evil in this country should never be seen as a permanent phenomena to which we should resign ourselves, our future and that of our children and their children’s children. We will not be ruled by standards of foxes, jackals and hyenas.



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