South Africa’s former President Thabo Mbeki asserted that there is a political leadership deficit in the continent which explains the apathy in Africa.
At a leadership lecture held by Duke Corporate Education, the former president cited a study conducted by Economist and technologist Dr Israel Kabashiki which made the surprising discovery that more than half of the Sub-Saharan population displayed a lack of belief in leadership.
According to Mbeki, this said leadership mainly refers to political leaders because that is where policy and implementation originates.
This drives forward the narrative which interrogates what these leaders are really committed to. The former president did not mince his words illustrating the modus operandi of political leaders setting a precedent in their actions.
He said leaders walk into office and say, “Now that I am president, what am I going to loot?” The positions that are occupied carry influence, because misbehaviour is seen as “endorsement” he said.
This is contradictory to the Oath of Office, a formal ritual he said is constituted by faithfulness at its very basis.
“It is not very easy to find many examples around the continent that act in a manner that is consistent with an oath of this kind, “ said Mbeki.
He said the makings of a good political leader contain integrity and a loyalty to serve, a desire to listen to the needs of common people and achieve the greatest solution for the population. Further a charismatic person, with a focus on coalition.
“Where do we get these people? Who is their mother? These are good people, so they must come from a good mother,” he wittily remarked.
“Hustlers use leadership to get what they want,” Mbeki said on a comparative note.
According to Mbeki’s observations, the major objectives that need to be realised on the continent are solid democracies, peace and security, eradicating poverty and youth empowerment, as well as women in the forefront.
In a move to mend African leadership on the continent, Mbeki said there needs to be a deeper adherence to the African Peer Review Mechanism (ARPM), which promotes and re-enforces high standards of governance, that contains various benchmarks as this will help leadership to fix their faults.
If a leader wants to fight corruption, others leaders can interrogate saying, “But here [where he leads], corruption is entrenched, so what are you doing about it?” he said.
On the lane of business leadership, Mbeki said, “The job of those who have stewardship of capital is to support society.” In this way, corporates can have a larger objective beyond the bottom line.