Leaders should transform not coerce, says Ngara

Modern African leaders should adopt a transformational type of leadership that brings about positive change through inspiration not by use of force, according to Professor Emmanuel Ngara of the Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education.

Emmanuel Ngara: A leader must peacefully influence people to follow him or her voluntarily.
Emmanuel Ngara: A leader must peacefully influence people to follow him or her voluntarily.

“Leadership should not be of the domination type, which coerces people to obey orders out of fear. This entails being accountable through regular consultations with the people,” he said. “The transformational leader prioritises service delivery and leadership takes a back seat.”

“The governance structure of the nation should ideally contain checks and balances such that while the president is the supreme leader, he or she can be disciplined if they abuse the power invested in them.”

He said leaders needed to listen to the people or their representatives and provide appropriate solutions within a reasonable space of time.

“Needless intervention by leadership in the lives of people is a recipe for disgruntlement and dissent,” he added. “Politicians and those in positions of power should pay attention to the economy and not just to their power and control of the state as this can cost the well-being of the nation.”

Ngara said state leadership should directly solve people’s problems brought before it. Most African leaders, however, were accused of refusing to account to the people and to prefer living in an ivory tower.

To create a united nation, Ngara noted that reconciliation created a sound foundation for a development and stability. Ability to forgive and be reconciled with political rivals was cited as one of the essential pillars of good governance. He said victory was not only won by destroying the enemy, but by accommodating and incorporating rivals. Peace, he said, was of greater value than gallantry and violence.

“Ubuntu presents one of the powerful explanations of the power relations that should exist between the leader and the led, between political leaders and the populace.

“The governance structure of the nation should ideally contain checks and balances such that while the president is the supreme leader, he or she can be disciplined if they abuse the power invested in them.

“Whatever political ideology the ruling authorities embrace, and whatever power relations exist between the ruler and the ruled, the general population must feel that their needs are catered for; that they have shelter and clothing; that the environment is conducive for agricultural activity; that they can feed themselves adequately and sell their produce,” said Ngara. “People also want access to education and healthcare among other basics.”

When material needs were catered for, people were likely to concentrate on their own affairs and not be concerned with who occupied the corridors of power. They were more likely to be loyal, feeling that their expectation of genuine representation by the rulers had been met.

In line with the Zimbabwe constitutional provision for devolution, provincial authorities should, he said, be given relative autonomy to run their own affairs without undue interference from central government.

A true and great leader, he said, influenced the people to follow him or her voluntarily, through good deeds.

“Among the challenges for which African governments of our time need to find viable solutions are the possibility of foreign intervention as in the case of Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya, internal conflict and dissent, which may threaten the peace and stability of a nation, and the imperative to develop viable and thriving economies,” Ngara noted.

He urged African governments to be awake to the fact that international relations depended to a great extent on balancing national interests with foreign interests. He said the art of making friends with foreign powers was to make sure that the relationship strengthened the security of the state without mortgaging the nation to foreign influence.

“It is arguable that if Colonel Gaddafi had endeared himself to all the citizens of Libya, NATO might not have found it so easy to oust him. The people of Libya may have stood by him and prevented him from being betrayed,” added Ngara.

One lesson that today’s leaders could learn from history, he said, was that a thriving economy, peace and a happy and loyal population were all factors that contributed significantly to the creation of a stable state and, consequently, to the security of those in power.

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