Friday, April 29, 2011

Bad elections lead to bad leadership

Bad elections lead to bad leadership
By The Post
Wed 27 Apr. 2011, 04:00 CAT

We are aware that politics is an area of great importance for promoting justice, peace, development and community among all. And as such, politics should be regarded as a vocation, a way of building up society for the common good.

We say this because an authority is needed to guide the energies of all towards the common good. And government is the instrument by which people co-operate together in order to achieve the common good.

For this reason, whoever wishes to be a leader must be willing to be a servant of all.

And we are reminded in Mark 9:35: “Whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.”

Politics, therefore, needs people with high credibility; people who are willing to be servants of others.

Their presence in the political arena can bring good values to the political process.

Our participation in politics should be guided by the good values of respect for human dignity, human rights, common good, social justice, solidarity, integral development, concern for the poor and non-violence in resolving conflicts.

We agree with Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, a member of the national executive committee of the African National Congress, who is visiting our country, when he says that “politicians have a very critical role to play in society because they can change people’s lives if they do not put their own interests first”.

This being the case, the pursuit of justice must be a fundamental norm of every politician.

Politics should be a genuine way of being at the service of others for the integral development of the country so that every human being would have the chance to enjoy the wellbeing necessary for their full development.

It is necessary to remind all our politicians and their political parties that politics should be for the good of the people and the country and not for the political survival of any individual or political party.

If this spirit of the primacy of the common good were to animate all our politicians and their political parties, we would certainly see a different type of politics – politics that place the interests of the people above self; we would stop seeing all these slanderous, malicious and violent election campaigns that we are today witnessing and that leave our people dismayed and disheartened.

Politicians who put the interests of the people before self serve the people wholeheartedly and never for a moment divorce themselves from the masses.

They proceed in all cases from the interests of the people and not from one’s self-interest or from the interest of a small group as is the case in our country today.

We say this because if those running our government had put the interests of the people first, they would have listened to the people and would not have spent over K200 billion on that disastrous ego-trip constitution review that George Kunda championed for close to 10 years.

Good politicians see it as their duty to hold themselves responsible to the people.

And they see to it that every word, every act and every policy of theirs conforms to the people’s interests, and if mistakes occur, they correct them promptly.

This is what being responsible to the people means.
Our politicians should have the interests of the people and the sufferings of the great majority at heart.

If they do this, they cannot behave the way Rupiah Banda and his minions behave, squander public resources, abuse public resources and defend corruption and all other schemes that rob the people of their very limited resources.

Politicians who respect the people always listen to the people; they are not arrogant. We don’t see this in our politicians, especially those in government today.

A good politician should have largeness of mind and should be staunch and active, looking upon the interests of the people as his very life and subordinating his personal interests to those of the people.

Good politicians are always more concerned about the masses than about any individual, and more concerned about others than about themselves.

This is not the case with our politicians – they are more concerned about themselves than about the masses.

There is need for our politicians to realise that the supreme test of their words and deeds is whether they conform with the highest interests and enjoy the support of the overwhelming majority of the people.

Rupiah and his minions are not bothered by considerations of this nature.

What matters to them is what they want; their interests matter more to them than those of the people.

If this was not so, they would not have wasted those hundreds of billions of kwacha on a constitution review process that the great majority of our people opposed.

This is clear testimony that Rupiah and his minions place their personal interests first; they never subordinate them to the interests of the nation and of the masses.

Good politicians must be ready at all times to stand up for the truth. We say this because truth is in the interest of the people.

But what we hear from Rupiah and his followers are lies and the twisting of truth to a point where it can’t be recognised.

Good politicians must be ready at all times to correct their mistakes.

Again, we say this because mistakes are against the interests of the people. But what we see with our politicians is arrogance, lack of humility and defence of all that is wrong.

Good politicians should set an example in being practical as well as farsighted.

For only by being practical can they fulfil the appointed tasks and only farsightedness can prevent them from losing their bearings in the march forward.

They must be the most farsighted, the most self-sacrificing, the most resolute and the least prejudiced in sizing up situations, and should rely on the majority of the masses and win their support.

They must listen attentively to the views of other people, including those outside their political parties, and let them have their say.

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

This is why it is important to maintain and strengthen democratic structures in our country if we are to enjoy a peaceful and developing future.

And Mkhatshwa says “good leaders will not allow malpractice to characterise elections; they will ensure that the people’s choice is the government that is put in power. Politicians who just want to be in power for their self-enrichment should not be given the mandate to rule any country”.

In democratic states, authority comes from the people who have the power to elect their leaders.

And this process should be as free and fair as possible so that the true will of the people prevails.

Elections that are marred with malpractices, unfairness, intimidation of the opposition and its supporters, abuse of public resources and institutions like the state-owned media and other government facilities cannot be said to be truly free and fair.

Good electoral processes lead to good leadership and bad electoral processes lead to bad leadership.



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