Thursday, May 23, 2024

A Call for Dependable Leaders

The elections have passed and by now we should be having a fully functional government in place directing and guiding the nation’s development processes. In the aftermath of celebrations by those in victory and nursing of battered & bruised egos and identities by those who fell victim in one way or the other, all should have by now cleared the way for the elected leadership to resume their mandate of the electorates.

For our members of parliament they should by now be feeling the turf and familiarising themselves with their new responsibilities in the absence of what may turn out to be a landmark occurrence in the history of this republic. As current induction processes for the elected representatives on etiquette and associated protocol procedures are going on, these should have been only minor tune ups to ready the legislators for their main job, leading the nation. The current legal battle around the constitutionality or otherwise of Parliamentary Standing Orders respecting to the processes of voting for the Vice President, Speaker of National Assembly and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly has surely taken this nation by surprise and raises a lot of questions about our leadership and their intentions.

First let me point out that leadership issues and required types of leaderships in organisational settings are a subject of debates amongst both practitioners and theorists and while there are a lot of dimensions to leadership traits expected of organisations’ leaders, there are certain traits that remain inalienable to leaders’ characteristics and demeanour.┬á

I will contend that these traits, to be discussed below, are fundamental pre-requisites for political leadership more than any other level of leadership, after all the rest of the other organisations’ leaders can only operate within a political environment that has been set and determined by the legislative and executive leaders of any given country, Botswana included. Amongst the few traits I have chosen to discuss in this input are;
courage, intelligence, personal honesty and human understanding. These I discuss with the full knowledge of not only the existence of other traits, but equally the different perceptions on what each of these traits may mean to different people. Firstly, it is inherent and expected that anyone assuming political leadership of any country must be a courageous individual whose courage is a clear radiation of the confidence they have on their own ability and capability to assume that leadership position. In as much as political games may often throw in individuals who could be lacking this trait, it is often a given that individuals know their strengths and limitations when it comes to issues of personal ability.

This type of leaders are able to confidently and more importantly , in my view, demonstrate their ability to marry their actions and any foresight for the nation with the need to always drive the public good. The courage to master and unearth that which is in the interest of the nation and, leverage one’s individual responsibilities on that to entrench leadership decisions and choices, on sanctioned social and national ethos that define the character of those that empowers an individual with leadership responsibilities. In this context, when any leader takes risks and ultimately assumes responsibility for their actions as leaders, it is also premised on the understanding that general national ethos and principles defining the public interest have provided the base for such risks and actions.

Secondly, leaders and political leaders in particular, have to be intelligent individuals who possess the potential to generate new ideas, be creative and more importantly are capable of using their imagination to make better judgements. These judgements can only be deemed to be informed and better when measured against their relevance to promoting and enhancing national cohesion and balancing of national interests, for the pride and integrity of the nation. and not that of the leader as an individual. In this sense there is an expectation that political leaders’ intellect must always provide a clear merging of their thinking and creativity with that which is assumed, if not revered, as the public good. This suggests that any decisions, ideas and innovative choices based solely, or even partially, on the personal interest of the leadership, remains an affront to the morality of a nation, even if it has some legal semblance of correctness. Intelligence through decision making and choices of what actions to take should therefore be not associated with the extent to which political leaders are either able to manipulate the governance system or their ability to take advantage of loopholes in the legal system, for interests that may be not deemed of national value in both the short term and long term.

Thirdly, a key old known trait of leadership is personal honesty, as attached to the political leadership position one assumes through processes such as elections or even appointments through known legal and administrative procedures, that have for a long-time been known practices of public services around the world. Political leaders, more than any other leaders, must be dedicated to acting in truth to not only their personal self but more importantly, be truthful to the public. Representative democracy and modern day good governance practices require leaders to act and talk truthfully, in part to assure the governed that indeed decisions taken are embedded in the mutual trust that is a key facet of leadership and citizens’ relationship. That our members of parliament and local government councillors are called honourable is in itself a reflection of an expectation from society that elected leaders must uphold truthfulness in discharging their mandate. They must leave, talk and breathe nothing else but the truth and that shall set them free.

Lastly, political leaders must always act in a manner that depicts an entrenched understanding of the expectations and morally acceptable preferences of society, even beyond what may appear to be legally right. The rights and personal dignity of citizens are taken to be sacred and not to be violated by leaders in anyway. In making decisions as leaders, often there is that need to pause and reflect on the justness and fairness of such decisions and this sometimes involves leaders going against what may be their personal preferences, all in the name of concerns for the led. I am inclined to have a yearning of a leadership of these traits at this very moment in our country, leaders with honour, integrity and a vision that encapsulates the nation’s desires and preferences.

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