It is in Africa where you find all sorts of labels affixed to our States: Failed States, Deep States, Vampire States, Mafia States, Robber States, Diminishing States, et cetera.
Such labels imply that people of power in the African states have crushed the hopes of our different peoples away from realizing the fruits of independence and freedom, to hide themselves in States to pursue interests that may have more to do themselves that with the people.
So question is: has leadership failed in Africa or is there just lack of leadership?
Whether failed or absent, it means Africa is yearning for meaningful and effective leadership to take it through the complex and complicated 21st Century.
Where leadership is meaningful and effective people are proud that after choosing leaders at the top-most levels of power, they are getting quality services in education, health, energy and agriculture, which are the social areas of humanity.
When things go wrong, or when leadership is absent or failed, this is felt in families and communities. They cannot make ends meet. They become hopeless and hapless, and begin feeling that they are leaderless. Problems that require genuine leadership to solve begin piling up: problems in every sphere of life; even in development.
And then it comes true that behind every problem is the problem of leadership – its failure, absence, meaninglessness, inefficiency, insufficiency and, highhandedness, visionless and lack of focus.
There has been a tendency in Africa for leaders, once erected, to transmute into rulers. Rulers are different from leaders because their collective mindset is that they are not servants of the people but the people must serve them. A good number of rulers in Africa manifest themselves as if they own the countries they rule and every resource – financial and natural.
They may make up making policies, laws, and regulations that enhance their powers and disempower the people. The disempowered people may become too dependent on the center for anything. They become slaves in their own countries, or else manifest collectively as people who live by handouts from the center. And by center I mean the ruler himself.
It is a rare African state where rulers allow the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary to manifest as independent and equal arms of Government. Usually the Executive penetrates the other arms of Government and makes them dance to its tune. When this happens the effectiveness of Government is eroded.
The sufferers are the people. They will not get the kind of services they deserve from all three arms of Government or individually. It is luck of the top most leader – President – does not manifest as Government, influencing personally what goes on in the Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary.
In Uganda, the President of Uganda has been able to liberate himself from the people, on the one hand, and from the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary to such an extent that he can do anything he wants without expecting to be asked to account. For example, he has not consulted Parliament in his decision to turn the Uganda Police into a kind of appendage of UPDF.
Even when he wants to wage war outside Uganda, he first wages war and then comes to Parliament to ask for funds to finance the war. When he went into Somalia, Parliament only learnt of it later when he came for funds.
Even recently when he went into DRC recently, ostensibly to fight and defeat Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), for once and all, he came to Parliament much later for money. He always gets the money because the NRM Caucus is the dominant political grouping in the House.
In summary, Leadership has not only failed in Africa, there is a general lack of it. We now boast of rulers. Rulers can never be leaders and leaders can never be rulers. Leaders lead people. Rulers rule people. Africa needs leaders, not rulers. Rulers tend to prefer sticking to power however long as they want.
Genuine leaders tend to prepare others to lead after them, and take leadership as a service. When Africa gets a critical mass of such it will begin to develop rather than de-develop. We should, therefore nurture leaders, who will depend on people to lead; not who will depend on the gun to rule.
For God and My Country
The Writer is a Ugandan Scientist And Environmentalist
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