Friday, June 27, 2008

What is Leadership?

Robert Mugabe has once again, through the use of force and intimidation, declared himself Zimbabwe's unanimously constitutionally elected President in an election repeat the international community described as sham. A previous election held this year gave Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition a landslide victory over Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF, the ruling party that has been in power since Zimbabwe's declaration of independenc from white-minority rule in 1980 .

South Africa, a neighbor of Zimbabwe and also a victim of violence caused by xenophobic attacks, has at last issued a strongly worded press release condeming Robert Mugabe's use of force against the oppostion. Ironically, South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki who has been calm about violence against poor African immigrants by marauding black South African youths in his own cities and townships has now come up with courage by condeming his comrade and veteran neighbor Mugabe. African Statesman and leader Nelson Mandela has been quoted as blaming Mugabe for the ills facing Zimbabwe.

On the other hand, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change or MDC, has sought refuge inside his own country, in his own city, in the Dutch Embassy, in the capital Harare (formerly Salisbury) for fear of being killed by the forces of his opponent, Robert Mugabe. Now my dear reader, tell me, is this effective leadership or an outright African dictatorship? Zimbabwe has obviously joined the ranks of failed states by becoming a laughing stork in the world.

An effective leader is the one who portrays challenging strengths, motivates, practices institutional collectivism, is assertive, shuns ethnocentrism, is unprejudiced, is goal-oriented, is results-driven, is competent, is principled, is encouraging, is collaborative, enables others to act, and is transforming. Mugabe has none of these qualities; he doesn't allow others to act; he is not open to challenges or criticisms; he is a man who wants to shine alone in every field. He is selfish and self-centered.

In clusters of world cultures, we find that Africans are generally a concerned people who are sensitive to others and that "concern for family and friends is more important than concern for self" (Northouse). Africans are known to express high scores on humane orientation. This is not the case with Mugabe who has transformed in to a hyena in a sheep skin. He has no concern for the welfare of his people; many Zimbabwean professionals have left the country causing tremendoulsy painful brain-drain on the welfare of the society; the economy is stagnated; people are hungry and angry, and that the country is headed for a genocide akin to what happened in Rwanda in 1994. Remember, the West did not care the least about the killings in Rwanda because they saw everything as a tribal war. At that time, the main concern for the West was the ethnic wars in the Balkans-Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia that were at war-a religious war between Christians and Muslims.

Tell me, what interest has the West in Zimbabwe? The answer is nothing. Zimbabwe is not in a strategic position in the world map; it is a poor landlocked, black African country that has nothing much to lure the West. It is painful that an octogenarian who has been on the helm since 1980 continues to hold his people ransom for the sake of lust for power. Let us not forget that genocide can happen anytime because Zimbabwe is a land of several tribes. They could all be categorized as Bantoid, but the fact of the matter is that there is a power struggle between the Ndebele and the Shona.

Both Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangiai are Shona though Tsvangirai has considerable political support from Matabeleland-the land of the Ndebele-an offshoot of the Zulu of South Africa. The Ndebele split from Shaka Zulu in 1820s when they rallied behind Mzilikazi who was a former General in Shaka's army. Upon the death of Mzilikazi in 1868, his son Lobengula assummed power. Cecil Rhodes negotiated with them in 1888 in order for the British to have exclusive mining rights in their territories which included lands along the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers. This treaty also prohibited the Boers (Dutch settlers) from laying claim to Matabeleland. A notable Ndebele is Joshua Nkomo who was one time Vice-President of Zimbabwe under Mugabe. The Shona have always dominated Zimbabwe politics, are thought to number nine million, and are the most populous.

What boggles the mind is how the opposition leaders and their supporters have become scapegoats of Mugabe's vulturous regime as they are often branded "terrorists, weeds, and traitors" or things of that nature. The ruling ZANU-PF has mobilized thousands of unemployed youths to scare away the opposition from laying claim to the presidency. These young men and women who would have been an asset to the nation are rewarded with cash to buy mind-altering drugs, alcohol, and other dangerous hallucinogens to rough up the opposition and their supporters.

Regardless of how monstrous Mugabe and his cliches have become and no matter how long this dictatorial regime continues to intimidate peace loving Zimbabweans, one thing is for certain: the spiral of violence will continue to flare up until the opposition lay claim to the presidency of Zimbabwe so as to bring back its lost image and glory in the world.

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