By Noah Mangwarara.
Harare, Zimbabwe. (News Of The South) – It’s been said and continues to be an established fact that leadership without a successor is failure. This is one fact that eludes most African leaders regardless of how intelligent or foolish they might be. This is the case whether the leaders are plying the political, business, spiritual or social playing field. These are the men and women who take themselves for the traditional kings who depart by only one means- death. There is no sensitivity to the state of the institution when the date of departure arrives. The only conclusion that can be drawn from these African fathers, especially the political ones is that they are not concerned about the welfare of the people and the countries they claim to love so much; instead, they are only driven by the selfish agenda of remaining in office at whatever cost. If it was out of love for the populace, their actions would speak on their behalf.
Even though many might choose to follow the wrong path and engage in the unpleasant behaviour that defies leadership reason, there are a few who still have a conscience and a sane consideration of the goodness of their countries. A close look will even reveal how those few countries still have economies to write home about couples with morality in the manner their affairs are run. When Ian Khama attended the independence celebrations of Zambia two weeks back, he indicated that he was not going to amend the constitution of Botswana to seek a third term in office. He saw it fit to stand by the dictates of the constitution, alongside the principles that he holds so dear; which is the most logical thing to do.
Ian Khama is famous for having said the following words; “My opinion has always been that 10 years leading any kind of organization – not just a country or a government, any organization – is pretty much the maximum.” Ten years is undeniably a long period to make meaningful contribution to an establishment which can be long lasting. Ten years likewise constitute a long enough period to completely exterminate and annihilate an economy. It is astounding how the Zimbabwean president is seeking another opportunity to lead the country from 2018 onwards for another five year term. One wonders whether there is any fresh contribution that this grandfather of African politics has to offer having already mislead the country and taken it to a state unimaginable in 1980 when the country obtained its independence from British run. Presiding over a country that doesn’t have a currency is unprecedented in the modern world but that has been the order of leadership that Zimbabweans have known, with the rulebook being tampered with daily.
At the SADC conference in August 2016, Ian Khama was castigated the Zimbabwean leader’s continued holding onto power when he said; “It is obvious that at his age and the state Zimbabwe is in, he’s not really able to provide the leadership that could get it out of its predicament.” One would speculate on what can be said presently given that the presidential candidate for Zimbabwe elections remains the same man who has been at the helm since thirty eight years ago. The sentiments by Khama are not based on any hatred but they are merely coming from the voice of reason. The truth of the matter is that there is very little that can ever come from a man who has more than 99% of the population being younger than him. Infact, there are so few individuals still alive in Zimbabwe who are the same age as the president. There is no way the level of thinking and appreciation of issues can ever align with the dictates and demands of the hour. Even if the cabal in Zanu (Pf) might want to ignore this fact, it is known by all and sundry that the leader has gone past his best by date. Khama can only be right. The Botswana president got into office ten years ago, twenty eight years after Mugabe had been at the helm; now ten years later, the Zimbabwean ironman holds on and is seeking yet another five years. Probably he is working towards breaking the record for being the longest serving African statesman. There is that possibility as some are claiming that he can even rule from the wheel chair but the question that begs an immediate answer is, to whose benefit?
Khama’s move to leave office to his successor is the only logical and best thing that can happen to leadership in Africa. It is such a legacy that will stand as a good example of how political leadership is not equated to messiah-ship whereupon one is not prepared to leave office as long as they are alive; the general thinking being that the leader God sent. If the leaders are real messiahs, why do they engage in ungodly pursuits like killings, corruption of the highest order and every other evil in the book; some of which cannot even be reduced to black and white? True leadership is one that knows when to let go; it is the one that fully calculates and identifies a competent man or woman who can run with the ball even when the former president is still alive. Presently, America has four former presidents who are still alive in the form of Jimmy Carter, George Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. It is this order of things that Khama is following, with his own country also having former president in the form of Festus Mogae still alive. Such Intentional succession adds value; it facilitates sound planning, it destroys unnecessary factionalism as the prevailing order in Zimbabwe. One would want to blame the men and women behind the factions in Zimbabwe but the greatest factionalist lies in the president and his wife. Over staying in power only breeds uncalled for cancerous behaviour which wouldn’t be there if the ten year term limits were adhered to with each individual leaving as their term expires.
Leadership succession is too important to ignore; shunning it has the effect of destroying once vibrant political parties and economies. Leadership succession prevents the occurrence of a crisis. Before the departure of the incumbent, everything is sorted out with the resultant effect of peace and tranquility. It boils down to positive contribution coming from the generality of the citizenry concentrating on doing those things that add value to the nation.
Leadership succession is a top priority. Future needs are more important than past accomplishments. Countries require leaders with strength and talent that supersede their predecessors no matter how good those of the past era could have been. Differences in opinion is proof enough of life and progression of any entity. The rising stars should never be discouraged and denied the opportunity to add value whilst they can still eager to make a positive contribution; they should be given room to shine whilst they can still shine. It is the new crop of leaders who can challenge the status quo; on the contrary, driving out promising leaders leave behind a crop of “yes-men and women” who are unlikely to make good leaders. The entity will surely suffer as a result.
It is only prudent for the leader to be around to see the results of their effort in the form of the mode of execution as displayed by the predecessors. The talent in the pipeline should be allowed to emerge from the pipeline and bring forth what they are made of. By denying the upcoming leaders their opportunity at the top table, it generates the resultant effect of a lost generation.
Noah Mangwarara is a Leadership Expert & Motivational Speaker who has authored a number of inspirational and leadership books. Feedback firstname.lastname@example.org
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