Is current leadership displaying inspiring values for the youth as future leaders?

09 Nov 2018

BY ADAM PHETLHE

A debate has ensued in some quarters whether the current and largely analogue generation is displaying both ethical and moral leadership values to inspire the digital generation that is the youth and our future leaders, to subscribe to and carry forward as some form of grounded foundation to build upon when they take over leadership roles going forward. Leadership across the board, be it in politics, the corporate world, churches, football, trade unions and the judiciary is fully entrenched in acts of deceit, blatant corruption, downright greed and dishonesty of the highest order to mention but a few. I must hasten to state at the outset that I am not painting everybody with the same brush but that most of those in leadership positions across the board have shown and continue to do so that ethical and moral leadership is not in their vocabulary.

History tells us without any shadow of doubt that notwithstanding that there are laid down processes and procedures to deal with truant leadership, those entrusted with the power and authority to correct such truancy do not do so because they are also caught in the same act.  These traits would inevitably and somewhat be ingrained in the youth who, as a consequence, would pursue them in one form or the other because they are almost if not, the norm when one assumes a leadership position. If leaders for example publicly pronounce that bolope (sycophancy) is a desirable stepping stone to access a leadership position to achieve finer things in life politically and otherwise, some of the youth are more likely to take is as the gospel truth since such leaders are themselves in such leadership positions and enjoying finer things in life.

Mo Ibrahim of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Leadership Fellowship Programme For Young Africans fame recently said at the Young World Summit at the Hague last month that “The future of Africa is in the hands of young people”. Earlier in 2013 and speaking at a lecture in honour of Nelson Mandela, Mo Ibrahim drew comparisons between African and American leaders when he said “Barack Obama became president when he was 47 years old with Bill Clinton becoming president at 46 years old….People in their 40s are being elected to run a country which is not only the greatest superpower, but has a GDP….of 15 trillion dollars a year-15 times the total economy of Africa” He continued “The average age of leaders on the African continent was around 60 years , yet half of the population was under the age of 19”. On the basis of Mo Ibrahim’s argument that Africa is probably ready than ever before to be led by young people, I cannot agree with him more. The million dollar question in my view is whether young people and given the serious and perhaps deliberate lack of accountability, good governance and transparency by the current leadership across the board and to which such young people are exposed to day in and day out, will make them any better leaders. It does not appear that young people, at least those who are now aspiring to lead, will be any better than the analogue generation because they are already deep into the factory that produces unaccountable leaders. If it is agreed that a broken family set up is more likely to breed a broken young person, the same argument should apply in this instance. That is, a broken leadership factory is more likely to produce broken young people.      

The leadership bar is set appallingly too low where no values whatever they may be no longer apply to any leadership position across the board. I have come to a conclusion that information supplied by people in leadership positions leaves a lot to be desired in that it could be circumvented and manipulated to suit their own narratives. It is common these days to get conflicting information from senior officials of an entity like it happened recently with Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority concerning some issuance of licences to operate petrol stations or something of that sort where officials contradicted each other on whether such were issued or not.   Auditing firms like KPMG South Africa have stooped so low to provide flawed opinions on company financials allegedly at a fee to them; a judge of the High Court is allegedly implicated in money laundering activities; pastors and Bishops are involved in daily despicable conducts against their congregants and the society at large. The list is endless.

With unethical conduct by the leadership across the board with particular emphasis on government and for the simple fact that she directs policies and laws to set the economic development agenda in motion, such agenda is seriously unachievable as the state of our economy indicates. That is why there is the flip-flopping of whether to re-open BCL for example with an informed reason of why it was closed in the first place difficult to establish.

Inescapably and with the above background in mind, it is safe to conclude that young people who are the leaders of tomorrow are watching how the current leadership is unaccountable, deceitful, corrupt yet they lead lifestyles of real fat cats. None of them if any is made to face the full might of the law for their own transgressions yet again such transgressions are as clear as daylight is.  It has been said that those young people who were lucky to receive some funding from government to start their own businesses divert such funds from their core mandate by financing their own opulent lifestyles with such businesses eventually collapsing. The undisputable fact is that they are emulating their senior leadership.       

It is my considered view that the current leadership across the board is not displaying inspiring values to make young people better future leaders. Consequently, the advent of stinking corrupt leadership whose aim is to siphon public resources as much as is possible to the detriment of the less unfortunate members of society, is more likely to be perpetuated by young people arguably not from their own making but from the factory of the current leadership. It is almost a given if not completely, that offices, whether public or private are desirable and sought out trough to prosperity at the expense of expected moral and ethical leadership. Young people are more than sufficiently capacitated to assume leadership functions. The problem is like I have alluded to above, that the current leadership has not taken them through the factory that instils in them core values that would make them a different breed of leaders to make Botswana in particular and Africa in general, destinations of choice. That said though, one is hopeful that they (young people) and notwithstanding the faulty factory, should be given ample chance and space to prove their worth. Like I have said, it is a question of do as I say and not as I do.  Judge for Yourself!

phetlhea@yahoo.com