Celebrating birth of servant leadership

15 Sep, 2022 - 00:09 0 Views
Celebrating birth of servant leadership As a man of action, the President has been to every part of the country, delivering on his promises — keeping hope alive.

The Herald

Elliot Ziwira-Senior Writer

TODAY President Mnangagwa, affectionately known as ED, turns 80.

Coincidentally, his birthday, September 15, is recognised as the International Day of Democracy, which gives global citizens an opportunity to check the state of democracy in their localities.

The word democracy is crucial here; so also is the man who was born on the day set aside for the world to celebrate the phenomenon.

When the President came to the helm of the Second Republic, the word democracy assumed novelty — a new meaning, really — a shared meaning of hope, where the common good is the winner.

For Zimbabweans, it is a double celebration through a prophecy that was fulfilled when he was inaugurated on November 24, 2017.

Exuding servant leadership qualities, and giving a listening ear to citizens, since then and always, the President has continued to endear himself to his fellow countrymen.

Unwavering in his resolve, he has always preached peace, unity, harmony and non-violent engagement. Forever humble, the President submits to his fellow countrymen; acknowledging them, even.

As the coronavirus broke out in 2019, leaving the world reeling from economic and social tumult, with global citizens left in a quandary, like a good captain that he is, the President kept his cool for the ship to remain buoyant.

When other countries were locked up in contemplative engagement, about vaccines to use against the deadly Covid-19, the people’s President had a plan. Because of his hands-on approach to issues, discerning eye and the steward leadership that he personifies, the country was not caught off-guard.

The servant leader in him remained unflinching, as he emboldened his fellow countrymen to get vaccinated, and refrain from getting swayed by “political virologists” flaunting as scientists on social media platforms.

He even saluted his fellow citizens, through a billboard message, for heeding the vaccination call by visiting the various vaccination centres countrywide to get their first and second jabs.

“Fellow Zimbabweans, thank you for heeding the call to get vaccinated”, acknowledged the President in his message on a billboard along Seke Road at Chinhamo filling station.

Indeed, “Together we are defeating the Covid-19 pandemic.”

That is what servant leadership means, which sets the President apart from masquerades, bent on criticising the Government all the time.

Sadly, some Zimbabweans have died due to Covid-19, robbing not only their families of loved ones, but the country as a whole, through denting the human capital resource pool.

An embodiment of humility, the President opened up democratic, economic and political spaces, allowing citizens to freely interact. This cannot be overemphasised, for he is a diamond. Is it not trite that sometimes glass can outshine a diamond just to prove a point? But a diamond has nothing to prove; it remains what it is — a gem. 

Talk of politics used to be taboo! Now, politics is discussed openly, like games of poker, snooker or soccer, without inhibitions or fear. The emotive Gukurahundi issue — that dark spot in our past — has found space once more.

It has to be resolved, the President insists, for unity, peace and reconciliation are the bedrock of nationhood, and ultimately collective prosperity.

Just imagine!

A new Zimbabwe has come, where action is put where words are. Less talk, more action, is President Mnangagwa’s way.

President Mnangagwa and First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa during 41st Independence celebrations at State House.

The harmonised elections of July 30, 2018 ushered in a new democracy for a new Zimbabwe ideal for all citizens; a Zimbabwe that all countrymen deserve, where leaders humbly give themselves to the people, as servant leadership is wont to be.

Nonetheless, there are some among the citizenry, who find it unfathomable to accept that a prophet has been raised among them.

These are the people who Peter informs about in Act 3v22-23: “For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.”

Naysayers will surely be cut off from their people. They belong elsewhere.

Oftentimes, the temptation is to seek prophets from outside our own boundaries, for a prophet is said not to be recognised in his own town, as those who know him will always claim that the son of so and so cannot be the one.

“He is just one of us, what can he bring us when he has grown up among us?” they would say. 

But when the time is ripe, surely, one among a people can have the light shown on him to lead them to the Promised Land. What is only required is the discernment to understand the meaning of what is a nation, and what it means to have a prophet among them.

It is easy to understand how we have toiled as a nation; enduring, scalding our feet as we hobbled towards freedom. We share that as a people: our history is pervaded by the suffering we endured, because of the colonial apparatus of oppression and plunder aimed against us.

Independence to us meant more than political triumph. We wanted more — we wanted freedom. We so much wanted to be in control of the means of production, chief among them the land, so that we change outcomes for us all.

The journey has been long, laborious, and frustrating at times, with some amidst us metamorphosing to demigods. We saw the values of our struggle deviating, and we became the others. Everything became a travesty of all that could have been.

But one among us was tormented, persecuted and pursued. He was literally marked. Why? Because the beacon shone on him. It was not difficult for us to realise that he was the one — ED was the one. A chick that will grow into a cock can be spotted the day it hatches, the adage goes.

On our behalf, ED, our servant leader, stoically bore it all, that when he was ostracised our hearts sank, for we thought our train to the Promised Land had derailed. The desperation, frustration and despondency was palpable.

Against all odds, he promised to come back within two weeks to lead the nation to that Golden Future Time; and he did.

Since that November day, the President has always kept his eyes on the ball. In our watch, the landscape has been changing; dams have been constructed across the country, roads rehabilitated, livelihood routes opened up through agricultural support, and employment opportunities created, among a plethora of other policy enablers.

Now, when it comes to democracy, it is every man’s right to refuse to lose, or be declared a loser, even if the prophecy is clearly written on the wall.

Thus, MDC-Alliance’s Nelson Chamisa’s Constitutional Court challenge was as constitutionally apt as ED’s win is emphatically reflective of the ripening of time to a prophecy that has long been foretold.

Therefore, the President’s inauguration on August 26, 2018 at the giant National Sports Stadium in Harare, brought hope to a nation that had been on the fringes for long. Hope may wear so many faces, but the humility in his voice as he delivered his speech, gave meaning to a shared hope, as illuminated in the words:

“I am your listening President, a servant leader. In this vein, those who will occupy public office at any level, under my Government will be required to exercise servant leadership in the execution of their duties, and to be humble and responsive in their interactions and dealings with the citizenry.”

Such are the traits of a democratic leader — such also is the quintessence of stewardship.

As a man of action, the President has been to every part of the country, delivering on his promises — keeping hope alive.

Now, when it comes to democracy, persistent questions arise: What really does democracy mean? Do the ideals of democracy and governance, which seem to be borrowed robes from the West, adequately speak to, and impact on African realities?

Montesquieu (1689, 1755) puts democracy in context thus: “As in a country of liberty, every man who is supposed a free agent ought to be own governor; the legislative power should reside in the whole body of the people.

“But since this is impossible in large states, and in small ones is subject to many inconveniences, it is fit (that) the people should transact by their representatives what they cannot transact by themselves (cited in Held, 2006: 66).

Diamond (2009) and Montesquieu (1689, 1755) concur that the people’s will, as citizens, or through their representatives, are major cogs in a democratic society. In Marx’s view, social classes also play a major role in what constitutes democracy due to materialism.

Since the people are a crucial part in a democracy, for it is from them that the Executive and Legislature derive power, it is proper, therefore, that the President implored his lieutenants “to be humble and responsive in their interactions and dealings with the citizenry.”

The Executive and the Legislature need the people as much as the masses require representatives for their transactions.

Acceptable ideologies and forms of democracy remain puzzling in Africa. With everything premised on Western concepts, it is time Africans, pertinently Zimbabweans, decide what best works for them, and accept that prophets are always raised from among their people.

As Zimbabweans, we share a lot, and have always done so as a nation: enduring the historical inequalities that permeated the Motherland.

We can only do more as a united people, because Independence is more than political triumph. With our shoulders on the wheel and all hands on deck, our destiny is in our hands. Through the economic freedom that comes with ownership of the land, and all that it enshrines, we can change outcomes for the common good.

And the President remains steadfast in that light.

A servant leader, he has always been for the people, and remains for the people.

Universally, people’s perceptions of democracy differ, but what persists is that: “In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve” (Joseph de Maistre).

Indeed, a prophecy whose time has come cannot be wished away. Through the President, an epitome of servant leadership, whose birthday coincides with the International Day of Democracy, the Motherland is democratically richer.

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