Wanted: Fearless, selfless, humble leaders

Last week’s article on the editorial page, Faith Matters, really hit the nail on the head. It described Zimbabwe as a country in a serious leadership crisis. It told of how after Saul had failed as a leader by bringing grief upon the nation of Israel, God commanded Samuel to anoint a young man called David to be king over Israel.

David killed a giant called Goliath who was terrorising the people and, through good governance, brought peace and prosperity to the land. The article said Zimbabwe is now in the same position that Israel found itself in, and called upon the Church in Zimbabwe to pray that God will raise a new leader of His own choosing for our nation who, like David, will slay the giants of injustice, fear, division, hatred and violence.

Yes, Zimbabwe is now in a leadership crisis. In the past we had, overall, a good and determined leadership of dedicated nationalists. We had men and women who were fearless, selfless, humble, and who loved their people and country to a fault. Many sacrificed their own lives for Zimbabwe. It is interesting to note that most of them were mission-educated Christians who saw their fight for the freedom of Zimbabwe as part and parcel of their Christian duty. One of the earlier ones was Rev. Thompson Douglas Samkange, a minister of the Methodist Church.

Samkange is described as a dynamic man who was at all times ready to help anyone in distress. This earned him the nickname, “Mudavanhu” (lover of the people). He was elected President of the African section of the Southern Rhodesia Missionary Conference but found the division of the Conference into black and white sections distasteful and unchristian. He therefore decided to fight for African rights against racism, not only in the Methodist Church, but in the country as a whole.

In 1945 Rev. Samkange resurrected the old African National Congress which had been started by Aaron Jacha in 1934 but was now inactive. He organized it zealously and became its President. In 1948 he was in command when the ANC organized the first general strike in the country. I was in my first year of school, Sub. A, at Mai Musodzi Hall and remember vividly that strike, which brought the whole town of Salisbury (now Harare) to a standstill. We did not go to school for some days because the police were beating up anybody they saw on the streets.

Later on in life, Samkange was offered the chieftainship of the Zvimba tribe, as a member of the royal Ngonya clan but he refused. He humbly explained to the elders of the tribe that the responsibilities of a traditional leader would clash with his responsibilities as a minister of the Church. To him, his struggle for African rights and his Christian ministry were one and the same thing. This is the kind of leader that Zimbabwe needs today.

A number of other Christian ministers followed in the footsteps of Samkange to fight for the rights of Africans against colonial rule. They included Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole, Rev. Henry Kachidza, Bishop Abel Muzorewa, Max Chigwida and Re. A.T. Kanodereka. These were good, God-fearing leaders with a genuine love for the people. Like all human beings they had their faults. But these were faults of judgement and not of selfishness.

During the early days of African National Congress, African National Council, African National Youth League, National Democratic Party, People’s Caretaker Council and others, our leadership was united and dedicated to the cause of African emancipation. Disunity reared its head in l963 after the formation of Zanu. Joshua Nkomo, the ZAPU leader, acted contrary to his known qualities as a good leader.

Instead of seeking reconciliation with the dissenters or allowing them their right to form another political part, he demonised them and called them sell-outs. How could Maurice Nyagumbo, Enos Nkala, Ndabaningi Sithole, Hebert Chitepo and others, who had sacrificed so much, sell the country they had suffered so much for? The hatred and violence which followed was sanctioned by our political leaders who began to set a bad example to the youth.

After independence, then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe gave a wonderful speech about unity and reconciliation. However, in choosing leaders for the country, he chose to be partisan and ignored the cream of our society – well-qualified men and women of integrity – because he feared they would challenge his power. He is more comfortable with mediocrities, who stiffen in fear, and address him as “Chef”. They follow his orders without question and he rewards them well.

These are the people leading Zimbabwe today. They are inept, greedy, power-hungry, self-seeking, proud, cruel and dishonest. Today, Mugabe would be the first one to admit that he is surrounded by useless and dishonest people who are now a threat to the country and to him personally.

In politics my sympathies are with the MDC-T for obvious reasons. However, some of the leaders in that party are a cause for concern. Recently, they almost came to blows at Harvest House. The divisions in that party are being stirred by people who are not selfless but power-seekers. I was gratified to hear that the party had appointed proven leaders to investigate the causes of the violence that is raising its ugly head in that party. People without necessary leadership qualities must be uncovered and be flushed out.

In a democracy we need many men and women to rule the people within parliament and through a cabinet. The old guard who are still clinging to power are now out of it. The world has left them behind and they have no answers to current issues. Many are not even computer literate. They need to retire and leave the leadership to able young Zimbabweans. Our President, too, is old and sick. He must retire now while he still has some semblance of dignity, and let Zimbabwe proceed under new leadership.

The rest of us Zimbabweans have a heavy duty before us. We must fearlessly fight for an environment where free and fair elections can be held. “For evil to triumph, it is enough that good men do nothing,” so goes the saying. Secondly we must be non-partisan. Let us vote for those individuals who demonstrate the leadership style of Jesus Christ, no matter what political party they belong to.

Finally, ask yourself whether God may not be calling you into a career in politics. This is where God is wants to place His own leaders. Of course, dirty politicians will tell you that politics is a dirty business. Today we have a remnant of political leaders who are Christian role models. Zimbabwe needs more such. I was thrilled to hear that Prof. John Makumbe is going to contest for a seat in Parliament. He is a hard-working and fine academic, a Christian who walks with God, a truthful man and a patriotic Zimbabwean. These are the kinds of leaders that God would like to lead Zimbabwe in politics today.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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