15 June 2012

Zimbabwe: Lack of Leadership Renewal Haunts the Country

"THE emergence of a new style of leadership is critical not only for global Africans, but also for a world confronting globalisation and complexity on an unparalleled scale," writes Kenyan academic and political commentator Ali Mazrui in Pan Africanism, Democracy and Leadership: The continuing Legacy for the New Millennium.

Mazrui explores nine different types of leadership transcending the whole of Africa and aptly calls for a new style of leadership for Africa to be able to compete on the global stage.

While reading Mazrui's essay, especially how he describes the type of leaders Africa has had over time, one's mind would naturally wonder to the situation of Zimbabwe. Is the country haunted by a crisis of political leadership?

Those inside ZANU-PF and the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), as the main political parties in the country, would argue that their respective leadership is appropriate for the country as witnessed by their continued support and forwarding of the same in the past three elections.

Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, a scholar in South Africa, has been consistent with his criticism of the leadership situation in the country, choosing to stick to the notion that Zimbabwe is haunted by a crisis of leadership.

That ZANU-PF's President Robert Mugabe has been in power for 32 years, and Prime Minister (PM) Morgan Tsvangirai has been at the helm of his party for over a decade strengthens Ndlovu-Gatsheni's case.

Moreso, PM Tsvangirai had to amend his party's constitution in order to remain in power as those around him reinforced the idea that he was the only viable candidate to win the hearts and souls of Zimbabweans against long time ruler and nationalist, President Mugabe.

Citing talk about "mismanaged land reform, impact of sanctions, interference of the military in politics, impunity and violence, poor governance, antipathy towards democracy, disdain for human rights, kleptocracy, patrimonialism, and corruption, weaknesses of Southern African Development Community/Jacob Zuma mediation," Ndlovu-Gatsheni says there is ample evidence of symptoms of a crisis of leadership in the country.

Ndlovu-Gatsheni also cites the factionalism threatening to tear apart ZANU-PF and the internal power struggles in the MDCs as fact that personal interests have superseded national interests saying it is when this happens that true national leaders should rise and take charge.

The factional fighting currently being witnessed in ZANU-PF's District Coordi-nating Committee (DCC) elections has seen the party's politburo dispatching national political commissar, Webster Shamu to the country's prov-inces to try and salvage some order as the nation moves towards elections.

Critics have said that factionalism has long been a factor in the liberation war party stretching to as far back as its formation and subsequent split into ZANU and ZAPU, a defined tribal split representing the Shona and Ndebele respectively.

Factionalism has also given birth to "god-fatherism", a concept arising because provincial heavyweights have tended to create cliques who surround and campaign on their behalf to stay in power.

Political scientists have cited "god-fatherism" as a major contributor to Zimbabwe's political problems.

Most notably, media reports have cited Didymus Mutasa as the godfather of Manicaland and Em-merson Mnangagwa, of Midlands.

The two are high-ranking officials in ZANU-PF while also Vice President Joice Mujuru and Mnan-gagwa have repeatedly been linked with heading two separate factions in the party.

All of them have been in the political limelight since independence.

In the MDC, a relatively young entity on the political landscape, a major split as witnessed in ZANU of the pre-independence era (ZANU-/ZAPU split) occurred in 2005 as Welsh-man Ncube led a predominantly southern aligned faction out of the large group to form a parallel party.

Now referred to as MDC and MDC-T, the split of the then opposition party ens-ured that votes will be split between the two political entities come election time and critics have attr-ibuted this to PM Tsvangirai's failure to garner a 51 percent vote in the first round of the 2008 presidential elections.

Another academic who seems to concur with Ndlovu- Gatsheni is Akinola Samson Ranti who wrote in the Zimb-abwe Political Science Review Vol 1 No. 1 of 2010, that democracy is not only about the governed choosing their governors; they must do more than that, and control them.

Ranti laments the neglect of the majority's interests after independence, by those in power as they pursued self glory and riches as the precursor to the entrenchment of a selfish leadership cli-que.

"Shortly after ind-ependence, however, in attempts to pursue nation-building project, the pendulum swung to the other extreme as African leaders changed to one party system and paid little or no attention to these social capital that once nurtured their ambitions and brought them to power," writes Ranti.

"In the absence of checks and balances, the outcomes of African polity manifested in zero-sum game and winner-takes-all.

"This, invariably, has heightened cut-throat competition during elections among the contenders of political offices, where ethnicity, religion, and money-bag politics are playing major roles across the continent. Consequently, politicians became self-serving, plunderers, pillagers and aggrandised".

So, while the leadership is busy accumulating wealth, the majority of Zimbabweans are stuck in a quagmire.

During the subsistence of the current Parliament, Mem-bers of Parliament have threatened to "down their tools" as they lobbied for their sitting allowances, which eventually came as lump sums of around US$15 000 per legislator. They also got 4x4 vehicles and have recently called on the Harare City Council to give them residential stands at preferential rates.

Yet civil servants have repeatedly called for a salary increment of above the poverty datum line of around US$500.

Critics point to such largesse as the perfect examples of pillaging and self-enrichment epitomising a poor crop of leadership.

According to Ranti, the constitutional change is another factor that contributes to the demise of democratic transition as most leaders want to continue ruling despite the fact that their tenure would have ended.

So, the squabbles bedevilling the country's draft constitution process was set to happen as long as politicians dominated the process.

Constitutional lawyer, Lo-vemore Madhuku, has long opined that such a process would be fraught with problems and so far, he has been proven right.

"A good leadership must understand the complexities of history. It must be able to know the complexion of its citizens in terms of ethnic, racial, gender, generation and religious make-up. It must work towards synthesis of these identities rather than towards elimination of some people.

"It must use history to unite citizens rather than to divide people. National symbols, heroes and monuments must be carefully selected to reflect the complexities of the nation and its history," concludes Ndlovu-Gatsheni.

The late political scientist, Masipula Sithole once wrote that "the fundamental crisis our country is facing today is a crisis of political values. Should we manage to fix the economy without revisiting the values crisis, we are building on quicksand".

So while there is a lack of leadership renewal in Zimba-bwean politics, political scientists are agreed that it is perpetuated by a culture of greed, patronage and traditional hegemony.

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