Saturday, February 27, 2010

‘Leaders must be shy to tell lies to citizens’

‘Leaders must be shy to tell lies to citizens’
By The Post
Sat 27 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT

LEADERSHIP is very vital to the future of our nation. But in the end, putting aside all the theories and concepts, good leadership will be achieved, not by the formality of structures, but by the integrity of the participant and by the willingness of the individuals to work together and be inspired by a larger vision.

And while it is necessary to demand so much from our leaders and hold them accountable, it is equally important that in our own relationships with each other, we exemplify the leadership values we wish to see in our leaders, namely justice, integrity, honesty, humility and so on and so forth.

Dr Peter Lolojih, the head of the department of political and administrative studies at the University of Zambia, has made very interesting observations on the type of leaders our country needs.

Dr Lolojih says, “The country needs leaders who would spend sleepless nights thinking of how best to develop the nation. Leaders must be shy to tell lies to citizens, they must be committed to tell the truth.

That is not the case at the moment. The country needs leaders who are seen to be accountable and not corrupt…” Who can disagree with what Dr Lolojih is saying? It is not difficult to agree with this.

What is difficult is to find leaders who are willing to do and commit themselves to what Dr Lolojih is saying.

What the Zambian people are seeking is genuine democracy in which the leaders are servants of the electorate and not its masters. Good leadership will only arise in our country when we have intelligent, honest and humble politicians who see politics as a vocation to serve the people.

As things stand today, most of our politicians don’t see politics as an area of great importance for promoting justice, fairness, humaneness, development and community among all. They see politics as something one can use to gain fame, wealth and power.

They see politics as a job for earning a salary, allowances of all sorts and other personal material benefits. And these are the things they fear to lose when they are in government as ministers or when they are simply members of parliament or councillors.

They don’t regard politics as a vocation, a way of building up society for the common good. And for this reason their participation in politics is not propelled by noble values or sentiments.

The participation of good citizens in the political leadership of our country must be guided by noble sentiments and values and consider it a citizen responsibility to do so.

We say this because citizenship demands a positive contribution of everyone, young and old, to build our nation’s future.

And this includes running for public office, voting when elections come, volunteering in civil society organisations, fighting corruption, paying taxes, and so on and so forth.

We also should not forget that good leadership is chosen by good citizens. We are responsible, in some way, for the type of leadership we have in our country.

We chose it. If we didn’t choose it, we allowed it to be there by accepting to be manipulated, to be deceived and cheated through fraudulent elections.

We must take responsibility for the fate of our nation, the country in which we have chosen to live. When a free man fails, he blames nobody.

In the end, we get a leadership we deserve. If we glorify thieves, tolerate corrupt elements in our politics, accept inept and incompetent people to hold public office, how can we expect at the same time to have good leadership that is efficient, effective, orderly, honest and incorruptible?

There is a sort of chain of events here. For if good ideas foster other good ideas, bad things can foster, on the other hand, other bad things.

Virtue must be nourished but vice springs up spontaneously like weeds and grows by itself. We must bear that in mind. If we do otherwise, while nourishing virtue we are simultaneously paving way for vice.

This is why when time comes for elections we must vote wisely and only for people who are known for their ability, honesty, dedication and concern for the welfare of all.

We need leaders who can pledge to take steps toward greater openness and honesty about their decisions, actions and the way they manage the finances of our country.

This imperative duty must be fulfilled carefully and we must choose wisely people who will take the responsibility of running the affairs of our country in the right direction.

It is through political leadership that government is managed. If this leadership is poor, then government will fail to deliver to our people the services required in an organised society. And when this happens people will not be happy, peace and stability will be threatened.

There is nothing which makes people more appreciative of a government than that it should be able to deliver services. The government is the instrument by which people cooperate together to achieve the common good.

An authority is needed to guide the energies of all towards the common good. And for this reason politics need people with high credibility. There is need for a conversion of heart and for the transformation of our social structures in order to build our country.

There is need for us to try and restore in our country the type of political leadership Dr Lolojih is talking about.

There is need for us to teach ourselves and others that political leadership should be an expression of a desire to contribute to the happiness of all our people, especially the poor, rather than an opportunity to cheat, deceive, manipulate, loot, rape the nation.

There is need for us to teach ourselves and our fellow citizens that politics can be not only the art of the possible, especially if this means the art of speculation, calculation, intrigue and corrupt deals, but that it can be the art of the impossible, namely, the art of improving our people and our country.

If a person has received the necessary talent by the favour of God, that person would fail in one’s duty if, for selfish motives, the person refused to take one’s share in public life and affairs. Any person who is qualified to become a leader, is guilty if he or she refuses the task.

We say this because the apathy of potential political leaders can bring anarchy to the country, by leaving all the responsibility to inefficient, crooked and corrupt or unworthy people. We have rights and duties as citizens and the love of our country urges us to act accordingly in all justice and charity.

We need political leaders who are modest and prudent, who are able to guard against arrogance and rashness, and who are committed to serving the Zambian people heart and soul.

Zambia needs leaders who are willing to serve the people whole-heartedly and never for a moment divorce themselves from the masses, who proceed in all cases from the interests of the people and not from their own self-interests or from the interests of those around them.

We need leaders who are devoted to others without any thought of self, leaders with boundless sense of responsibility in their work and boundless warm-heartedness towards all our people. The duty of our leaders should be to hold themselves accountable to the people.

Every word, every act and every policy of theirs must conform to the interests of their people, and if mistakes occur, they must be corrected – that is what being responsible to the people means. They should have the interests of the people and the sufferings of the great majority at heart.

They should have the largeness of mind and should be staunch and active, looking upon the interests of the people as their very lives and subordinating their personal interests to those of the people.

They should be more concerned about the masses of our people than about any individual, and more concerned about others than about themselves. Only thus can they be considered to be the type of leaders Dr Lolojih says Zambia needs.

All our politicians must be brought to understand that the supreme test of the words and deeds of a political leader is whether they conform with the highest interests and enjoy the free support of the overwhelming majority of the people.

At no time and in no circumstances should a political leader place his personal interest first; he should subordinate them to the interests of the nation and of the masses. Hence, selfishness, corruption, greed, vanity, intolerance, and so on and so forth, are most contemptible, while selflessness, working with all one’s energy, honesty, whole-hearted devotion to public duty will command respect.

Zambia needs leaders who are ready at all times to stand up for the truth, because truth is in the interest of the people.

This is why, as Dr Lolojih has correctly observed, leaders must be committed to tell the truth and must feel shy to tell lies to citizens.

We need leaders who can set an example in being practical as well as far-sighted. For only by being practical can they fulfil the appointed tasks, and only far-sightedness can prevent them from losing their bearings in the march forward.

We need leaders who can listen attentively to the views of people outside their political party and let them have their say.

If what they say is right, they ought to welcome it, and they should learn from their strong point; if it is wrong, they should let them finish what they are saying and then patiently explain things to them.

We need leaders who are not opinionated or domineering, thinking that they are good in everything while others are good in nothing; we need leaders who don’t brag, boast and lord it over others.

The exemplary role of leaders is of vital importance. They should set an example in fighting vices, in observing discipline and fostering national unity. Only in this way can they be said to be leaders who can spend sleepless nights thinking of how best to develop the nation.

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