Revisiting the issue of the leadership challenge in Africa

The events in the last few months have put the African leadership question firmly in the spotlight. One of the key challenges according to experts, has been the longetivity of the leaders who have been forced out, which is just one of the elements of African leadership malaise.

The events in the last few months have put the African leadership question firmly in the spotlight. One of the key challenges according to experts, has been the longetivity of the leaders who have been forced out, which is just one of the elements of African leadership malaise.

The question of African   leadership challenge comes to mind just by deeply looking at the reasons that sent the young face bookers to the streets in Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia  and the rest where the chaos is reigning amidst changes.

The immediate conclusion according to experts is that the crises  have been due partly to questionable political leadership in these countries that have been given more prominence  by misguided western support and that it is also possible  to blame some of these problems in Africa on the length of time leaders such as Muammar Gaddafi or Hosni Mubarak  and the entire cast have spent in power.

However, it is also said that overstaying is just but a tip of the iceberg. The leaders who have so far  been replaced are said to have engaged in manipulating their country’s political systems thereby managing to stay in office for decades.

Such  leaders, it is said, have  been known to have abused   power while accumulating huge amounts of wealth largely through what is known as a patron-client system. It is further said that the client-patron system ultimately hurts their countries because such leaders eventually run out of innovative ideas.

Analysts further pointed out that the “facebook revolution” was largely a reaction by the youth to protest against  their political leaders consistent frustration of the political process that largely led to widespread poverty, collapse of the education system, deterioration of the infrastructure facilities beyond repair and relegation of such countries into a pariah status in the eyes of the international community.

While the “face book” revolution has not travelled to Africa South of Sahara, it cannot be said that this part of Africa is without such leaders. Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe is a case in point.

“Comrade Bob” who has ruled since 1980, is very likely to be re-elected in the next polls. One wonders whether he has new ideas centred around Zimbabwe’s need for a complete turn around of its economy whose meltdown is a real African leadership tragedy.

One of the critical elements Africa needs  as it seeks to reinvent itself is the supply of younger strategic  leaders with proven capacity to provide vision, inspiration as well as effective strategies of mobilizing human, scientific, financial and social resources within a given economy. These are basic attributes leading corporations look for when head hunting for their CEOs.

It is time Africans started viewing their leaders the same way multi-national corporations look for their CEOs. This kind of capacity is needed to address  Africa’s need for transformation, now rather than later, through creative and imaginative thinking and entrepreneurship. The political chaos that we have witnessed in Africa in the last couple of weeks reflects the lack of such strategies by the leaders who have since been ousted.

However not all hope is lost as Rwanda’s leadership story seems to provide an inspiring example. Rwanda’s leadership story provides a good starting point with a good case of  addressing and re-evaluating the African  leadership challenge.

Not only is leadership in Rwanda a true reflection of its demography, but it is also very strategic, visionary, inspiring, rational, measured, and calculative thereby embodying all the ingredients needed to transform Rwanda into a new dawn away from its frightening dark past.

For some of us who are not citizens, everything seems new-infrastructure is being built from scratch with unrelenting commitment, education system, which history tells us was previously exclusivist, is now widely taken as universal. The same can be said of health care system.

Investment that is seen as key to actualizing transformation, is taken as very serious business.

There are literally thousands of transformative stories that are readily abound in Rwanda which the “face book revolutionaries” in Tunisia or Egypt and such countries would wish their new leaders to bequeath to them urgently.

The author is an editor with The New Times

Ojiwah@gmail.com

 

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