Zimbabwe needs to rid itself of old fashioned leaders who believe fathers only ones worthy of eating meat!

You hear them speaking glowingly about "servant leadership", "not leaving anyone behind", and being "listening leaders".

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

Yes, it is always clear that they know not what they say.

Let us be very clear, “servant leadership” does not mean stopping your high-end, overly-expensive fuel-guzzling motor vehicle – surrounded by a multitude of heavily-armed and intimidating security personnel – to greet a hungry and impoverished little boy, dressed in tattered clothes, and then leaving him just as poor.

Why would a “servant leader” even be living a life of opulence, whilst his “masters” live in abject poverty?

Do these people even understand what that term means?

Being a “listening leader” does not mean, by any stretch of the human imagination, providing dubious mining permits to your crooked friends, of questionable business character and morals – who threaten to displace the country’s citizens from their ancestral homes, whilst desecrating their foreparents’ graves, and other heritage sites – and, then, when these villagers raise an uproar, you suddenly revoke these licences.

Why, in the first place, did you allow those inhumane and cruel friends to mine in areas clearly inhabited by other people – knowing fully well that their activities would infringe on their rights and dignity?

Had these villagers not threatened not to vote for the ruling party – having been known as one of its strongholds – what would have become of them, and their land?

There is no need to imagine the potential destructive outcome – since the people of Marange and Chiadzwa can easily provide ample testimonies as to how their relatively normal livelihoods were callously ruined, literally overnight, after the discovery of vast diamond deposits on their ancestral lands.

What is “servant leadership”? What does it entail to be a “listening leader”?

Does Zimbabwe’s ruling elite even understand such basic concepts?

I am reminded of some families that I used to know in my childhood – whereby, the children would always be sent to buy a very small piece of meat from the nearby butchery, which was meant to be cooked for the father, whilst the rest of the family had to do with soup derived from stewing the meat, with some vegetables.

I am sure that both the father, and his family, were more than convinced that he was a loving fair man, who took great care of him wife and children – and, sincerely believed that, as the “head of the household”, there was nothing amiss with this setup, in fact, regarding him as worthy.

As long as he did his family a huge “favour” –  by providing them with something to eat, putting a roof over their heads, sending his children to school, and buying a few clothes here and there – then, he was a “listening and servant father”, who “left no one behind”.

In other words, he was the head, and his family were the trailer.

That is precisely what we witness in Zimbabwe – where we have the grave misfortune of a leadership that truly sees itself as above everyone else, and are the only ones deserving of the best of the land, whilst the rest of the citizenry wallow in extreme poverty and hunger.

Our elderly parents are given a meagre USD45 per month as pension, civil servants earning a monthly salary of less than USD200, our children learning practically nothing due to lack of adequate educational material and a convenient environment, people dying in their homes as a result of unaffordable medical treatment, and over half of Zimbabweans categorized as “food insecure” or living in “extreme poverty”.

Yet, we have a leader who has no qualms whatsoever in chartering a private fuel-guzzling jet for USD1 million for a trip to the United Kingdom – ironically, for a climate change summit.

We have a ruling establishment that does not see anything wrong with owning vast tracts of arable land (whilst, freely accessing inputs of every manner), yet the majority of the population being abandoned to “Pfumvudza” – talk about removing one group of colonialist, and replacing them with another (of a different colour).

Does it even make sense when your own leader passes you by in the most expensive vehicles – even forcing you off the road to make way for him – yet, you can not even afford a bicycle?

Where is the “servant leadership” there? Where is the “listening leadership” in that?

Let us be clear – a listening leader, who can not hear, is a “deaf leader” – and, that is exactly what we have in Zimbabwe.

A true “servant leader” suffers with the people. A true “listening leader” places the interests of the people ahead of his own.

A father who truly understands what it means to be the “head of the household” ensures that his family are fed the best the home had to offer, and he eats last.

A genuine “head of the household” gives up his own life for his family.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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