By Lieutenant General
(rtd) Denga Ndaitwah
FOR any democratic government to achieve its set goals and objectives it must be driven by committed political elected leaders who will be charged with the responsibilities to lead and who must be accountable to the electorate as they navigate through external and internal turbulences. History has it that, there are also governments that have failed to achieve their set goals and objectives as they were led by non-tested, incapable and unable political leaders.
It is therefore, not a foregone conclusion that having a political leader will always yield desired goals and objectives. Political leadership within the democratic setting are therefore, the onus of those who are qualified, capable and able to lead and not those who are wheelbarrowed on the political tickets.
Democratic systems belong to visionary leaders. Vision demands for a leader who can look into the future and beyond. It requires experienced, creative and focused leader who is able and capable of dealing with all the emerging external and internal factors. Vision involves change and that change may come with unknown risks, yet making a change is inevitable for the success of a given organisation.
Effective and visionary leaders must be transformational by creating fundamental changes. Visionary leaders are those who can open sledge doors and create a conducive environment to multiply future leaders. Above all, an effective leader must be courageous in making firm decisions based on clear judgement and must be able to pursue their goals conclusively. That is what made leading nations on this planet earth today to succeed. The greatest visionary leader of the time leaves legacy behind of his/ her the magnitude of his/her impact, duration of the impact and the number of followers. The magnitude, duration and followers may be realised by leaders who give people a cause they can believe in. That cause or vision may not necessarily be extraordinary, but simply a cause or vision that fully explains why it is necessary to go for a cause even if it will mean sacrificing.
According to Schwarzkoft, the then US Commander of the Desert Storm forces 1990/91 said that he believed the challenge of leadership was “to get people to willingly do that which they ordinarily would not do”. Turn that into a democratic setting and get people to willingly do that which they ordinarily would not do. That shall be the most daunting and difficult task of which only those who have been elected based on their capability and ability shall be able to deliver to the expectations of the electorate.
A leader needs to know his strengths as a carpenter knows his tools and as a physician knows the instruments at disposal. In nature, there are people who may be good in executing, influencing, relationship building and strategic thinking. As for a leader to achieve set goals and objectives, the best is to identify and assign tasks to people who are well-versed and well-conversant in the areas you want to venture by way of exploiting all their potentialities.
An effective leader must grow at the same rate as the organisation he/she leads. Growing at the same rate is what will make a leader to be comfortable in own skin. There are some leaders who feel comfortable and fitting well in their skins. In the contrary, there are some who feel either their skins are too big or too small for them. That is caused by either superiority or inferiority complexes. The name of the game is, be comfortable in your own skin as an effective leader.
Leaders are in most cases are faced with what may be perceived as insurmountable problems. They may as well face some problems of which taking a decision can make them unpopular. However, leaders are not about taking popular decisions; they are about taking decisions in their view that are correct decisions. That will only be possible by weighing all the pros and cons that will make a leader to take a decision based on calculated risks. The notion here is not having only to decide, but to make a good judgement of what is an appropriate decision in the heat of complex situation.
Before any decision, it is the onus of the leader to constantly examine the organisation’s vision and mission the organisation whether is doing the right things and is structured and tailor-made to achieve its planned mission in effective and efficient manner. To be able to understand the vision and mission of an organisation, one needs to go deeper and analyse every component of it as analysing it wholly would render difficulties of not understanding it in a holistic manner.
From the foregoing discourse, while our democratic system in my view, is tantamount to political wheelbarrowing, it must remain the responsibility of the leaders of political parties always to field the would-be elected political leaders who are highly qualified, politically well-versed, capable and able to ensure effective service delivery to the needy people. Gone are the days that the political qualifications and licences are how long and how frequent does one put on a political scarf around the neck. Political leadership’s accountability, qualifications, capabilities and abilities must rather, be the price tag that the would-be elected leaders must pay. It must be noted that, the democratic world of today is so complex than ever before. As such, it demands political leaders who are visionary, highly qualified and capable to deal with the turbulence of the 21st century. The world of today needs political leaders who can reframe the status quo rather than do what has always been done. While navigating through all the hassles and challenges as may be imposed by both external and internal factors, political leaders of the 21st century must be able to think beyond the scope where others are not able to. The 21st century political leaders must be able to conquer challenges and pave the way for future successes by investing into future political leaders. Democracy in the 21st century must not about gambling with the electorate. It must rather, about accountability and effective service delivery. In light of the above discussed democratic issues, the highest a political leader must pay, is to seek for being elected to the office and not to politically wheelbarrowing into the political office.
Having grown up in military structures, I am well conversant with military structures of which members of the defence forces across the globe have their own ways on how appointments of officers to serve in different positions are being conducted. The appointments in the military structures are not by virtue of elections. The appointments of officers are rather dictated by the nature and possibly missions commanders are likely to undertake in their real life. Generally, appointments are therefore, done by virtue of military qualifications of those who are endowed with the capabilities, abilities and prowess to advance and regress the souls of soldiers from the most complex battle and war situations.
In a nutshell, the above is exclusive for military practices and must therefore, not be replicated or emulated within the democratic systems. While in the military structures military officers must pay the highest prices for being thrown into the most dangerous situations, in turn, it must be a democratic principle that all politicians individually must always pay their highest prices by getting out of their comfort zones to solicit their support if they are to garner votes for political power. Democracy demands political agenda by individual politicians.
Lt Gen Ndaitwah was the Chief of the Defence Force and now Part time Lecturer at UNAM, Head of Department and Senior Lecturer at IUM
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015