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Leadership dysfunction: Our national failure

Former president Robert Mugabe has gone, and with him his excuses. It must come as a refreshing relief to Zimbabweans that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has thus far refused the temptation to blame the spectacular collapse of our economy and our lives on sanctions and the wanton evil of “Bush and Blair”.

By Mathabelazitha/The anvil

Not only were we all zombie-sick of that nauseating song, expertly choreographed into our daily lives and thinking frames by Jonathan Moyo and George Charamba, but for decades the mantra served to bury our heads in the sand, as do brainless ostriches and it served to continue the rot of the internal organ of our body Zimbabwe.

Mnangagwa’s commitment to bar that magic bullet and shut that convenient family of excuses whose solution has no internal recourse or energy; the president’s brave resolve to look for Devil in the mirror, along with his demonstrable desire to open up and engage Zimbabweans, foes and friends — can only be a welcome gesture that pulls down walls, builds bridges and demystifies hitherto taboos.

Mnangagwa’s new step surely opens fresh opportunities for Zimbabweans to reflect, self-critique and frankly assess their multiple internal blemishes of incompetence, lethargy, endemic corruption, governance dysfunction, cumulative moral moth, and the absolute failure of leadership at all levels. It is also useful that while at it, it is no longer that cosy long-winded, ego-stroking talk show — but the man is wielding a Magufuli axe, and the axe works!

Indeed, Zimbabwe is a cell in a global network of organs that interact, affect and infect each other, and indeed the north-south political and economic binary is well-acknowledged. But at the heart of Zimbabwe’s social and economic woes is the deepening challenge of dysfunctional governance and failed leadership.

Nations and institutions rise and fall at the sword of leadership. It is important to point out that failure of leadership and governance dysfunction in Zimbabwe is not limited to the usual culprits, Zanu PF and government, although indeed the grand prize has always been theirs and yes, the fish begins to rot in the head. From the smallest unit of organisation, in our families, in our communities, we too are leaders, running down our institutions which micro-mirror our country, and are themselves a sorry site of sound values and ethical propriety, of moral stewardship and responsible citizenship.

We have lost our leadership compass and the basic integrity of governance in the various core institutions of nation-building has been routinely abused, prostituted and eroded to a hopeless mess. Society needs to consciously reclaim their institutions from the rabid claws of politics.

Every self-respecting Zimbabwean citizen needs to be annoyed, afraid and angry when the institution of traditional leaders — chiefs — unabashedly demeans and prostitutes itself to the service of a political party. It is a pointer to serious failure of leadership and governance in our society. Although it is itself an axis of monarchical hegemony and unchallenged rule and therefore the very antithesis of elective democracy, chieftainship is with us, but importantly and ideally, it is prior and above the vicissitudes of political whim. Operating in its correct, constitutional space, traditional leadership is representative of the divine ancestry in us, it provides the symbolic glue of national clarity, transcending the egocentric, self-serving interests of politicians who go in and out of the office and “ebb and flow by the moon”. In its proper place in our lives, traditional leadership can and should rise above the mundane stick and carrot of political purveyors like Zanu PF and Mnangagwa and give undivided, non-partisan hope to the people, unifying society and setting the tone for seamless cohesion as an embodiment of national character.

The likes of Khayisa Ndiweni understood this higher calling of their traditional and cultural mandate and they did not hesitate to show Mugabe the middle finger when, in his moments of madness, he would stray and meddle with the preservation of cultural sovereignty. The contemporary traditional leadership has lost its guard and soiled and embroiled themselves in the politics of the cookie jar, rendering the institution virtually worthless, and absolutely abhorrent to society. Zimbabweans must reclaim the place and sovereign integrity of chieftainship!

It is the duty of every self-respecting citizen to feel annoyed, afraid and betrayed when an institution such as the church breaks down from its important moral high ground to sell its soul and the soul of the nation to transient political entity and ensnare the congregation with selfish marauding faith fraudsters.

Men of the cloth have let down their guard and the church has been routinely raped by selfish political and self-serving agenda. What conventionally has served as the moral fountain of society, the refuge of the meek, the downtrodden and the poor and what was the unifying common bond of society, has become an infamous playground of politicians and a deranged cacophony of deceit, power struggles and the shameless impoverishment and disinheriting of unsuspecting congregants of their hard-earned wealth. The leadership of governance of the church has failed the people!

In an economy with 97% unemployment, with millions scampering for a life far off in unkind foreign lands, the leadership and governance of workers and labour interests in Zimbabwe has utterly failed. Gibson Sibanda’s powerful and robust Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions as we knew it, and as it ably represented the pure and distinct interests of the workers in Zimbabwe, is dead history. The cause of the workers has been roundly stolen by political sharks in the MDC and Zanu PF and effectively, there is no workers’ movement to talk about in a society of unparalleled workers’ struggles and woes!

The death of leadership and governance can be traced right through the veterans of war, the business community, the civil society, the army and the police as in simple football clubs. Without doubt, it will take a whole lot more for Mnangagwa to convince the lie-weary Zimbabwean populace of the sincerity of this most unlikely Moses. But if we are to rebuild Zimbabwe, citizens cannot abdicate their duty to reclaim the independence of their institutions from the tentacles of this very Messiah.

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