Profile of the 21st Century African Leadership

Challenges and opportunities (continued) Part Three: Globalization is not an option to be debated and avoided if so preferred. Each historical period dictates its own demands on society, and the type of leadership required to promote the interests and welfare of the people and defend their peace and security. People over the world are demanding new leaders and new style of leadership that would guide them to promote and protect their interests in this bewildering world of globalisation. Africans cannot opt out of globalisation nor continue to depend on the help of other people. The culture of entitlement is now no longer acceptable and the donors have rejected that of dependency.
Dr. Peter Butera Bazimya
Dr. Peter Butera Bazimya

Challenges and opportunities (continued)

Part Three: Globalization is not an option to be debated and avoided if so preferred. Each historical period dictates its own demands on society, and the type of leadership required to promote the interests and welfare of the people and defend their peace and security. People over the world are demanding new leaders and new style of leadership that would guide them to promote and protect their interests in this bewildering world of globalisation.

Africans cannot opt out of globalisation nor continue to depend on the help of other people. The culture of entitlement is now no longer acceptable and the donors have rejected that of dependency.

The phenomenon of globalization is irreversible and cannot be avoided. It is not simply a fashionable word but a mode of behaviour which is going to be imposed, and if Africa does not prepare itself for the event, it will once again find itself marginalized… Our little African countries will have to think hard about how we can play a part in this world economy.

There is no longer any room for idiosyncrasies or sentiment! In economic terms, we have moved on from the time when people took account of certain considerations that were not purely economic to one in which the clear-cut rules of liberal economics reign.

We must prepare ourselves. Instead of whingeing and asking our development partners to grant us total support, we have to organize ourselves to meet this objective.

Although globalization is a universal phenomenon in its impact, the threats and fears it poses, and the opportunities and possibilities if offers are bound to differ from one society to another.

As an extension of technology world wide it is only those who are equipped to deal with it that are likely to be its beneficiaries; and those who are not are bound to be its victim.

Africans belong to the latter category. Hence although globalization might enable Africans to participate in the global economy, however because of Africa’s very low technological absorptive capabilities, they may do so in roles whose determination Africans have no control.

Africans may have the goods and services offered by the global markets, but they may not have the requisite technological capabilities to produce the goods and services with quality and price acceptable to the advanced economies.

In addition to the new technology and associated organisational developments which are being rapidly adopted in advanced countries, other significant changes are also taking place in the production systems of these countries, involving new concepts such as flexible specialization and just-in-time production.

How will the new technology and production concepts affect the relative competitive position of developing countries vis--vis the industrial countries?

The main question at issue here is what implications these global economic and technological developments will have for international competition and for the skill requirements in the developing countries.

How should developing countries modify their current educational and training systems to meet the needs of the new technology as well as the far greater integration of the international economy?

As the world is rapidly transiting to the 21st century and as globalisation is inescapable a new breed of leaders is needed in Africa.

with leadership based on intellect, knowledge and experience and not on personal inspirations or aspirations; one who is well educated, respects knowledge and those who have it, and knows how or where to obtain it; has a sound understanding of the globalisation phenomenon and its impacts on Africa, and is prepared to respond to the challenges and opportunities created by the globalisation process; one who understands the critical importance of good governance, accountability and transparency in both democratic and development processes; one with honesty, integrity, and a vision of better future for all, and with the capability and commitment to realise the vision; one who recognises the importance of the generational linkages and is committed to develop and sustain the synergy between the generations. More importantly, Africa needs leaders who believe in democracy not simply as an electoral mechanism of gaining power, but as a means by which legitimate power is achieved and responsibly and accountably exercised on behalf of the people.

Elections are held in all African countries and those elected claim to represent the will of the people, and yet in their daily exercise of power African leaders tend to be oblivious of the needs, fears and aspirations of the people who elected them. Africa needs leaders who respect and are respected, trust and are trusted, by those who elected them, and are thus secure and confident in their leadership.

Part Four: As each historical period demands a particular kind of leaders and leadership, it would be prudent to be mindful of the circumstances that produced the first generation of African leaders and the manner in which they pursued their objectives.

History does not repeat itself. It is people who try to repeat it. The first generation leaders had their successes and failures. They made their mistakes, some of which were costly in both human and material terms.

Nonetheless, their collective actions and experience constitute an important body of knowledge that needs to be properly understood, analyzed and lessons extracted from them.

The four decades of independence, of experimentation with their successes and failures, have produced useful knowledge and insights on the processes of development and democratization in Africa. Appropriately treated such knowledge and experience could be useful to the succeeding generation of leaders. What is needed is the creation of an environment that will facilitate the transmission of knowledge and experience between the generations.

There are important distinctions between leadership succession and the recruitment of leaders.  Succession is a process that involves the assumption or transference of leadership from one person, or group, to another. How successful, peaceful or effective such an assumption or transference might be will depend on the relevant laws, historical experiences, norms and cultural traditions of the peoples concerned; as well as the existential circumstances.

Where the laws and traditions are observed the succession is likely to be peaceful and effective. Where such observations are ignored problems are likely to occur.

In general leadership succession in post-independence Africa has tended to be a product of crude political manipulations, rebellions or military coups rather than the peaceful application of the constitutional process.

This is due partly to the fact that constitutionalism is not well founded in Africa; and partly due to the primacy of politics. The constitution provides the basic foundations for the legitimacy of the government to rule and the peoples’ rights to demand accountability and transparency from the government.

The constitutions of virtually all African countries make provisions for the establishment and maintenance of accountability and transparency systems. It is the manner in which these systems have performed that has been problematic.

This deficiency in constitutionalism is one of the major contributory factors to bad governance in Africa. Our constitutions are as good as any other constitutions in the world. Our laws are equally sound.

The judiciary is supposed to be independent and the Police fair and accountable. In most of our countries the laws and the regulations provide for equal access to land and resources.

Yet, we know in some cases, groups and individuals prevail over the general interest. We do have institutions for control such as constitutional courts, Ombudsman and other appeal courts and commissions. But yet, the situation in the field is quite disturbing as the rights of the citizens are often violated and undermined.

Politics is a struggle for power. In a democracy the struggle takes place within a competitive framework regulated by rules, principles, norms and conventions.

In Africa politics is personalized and transformed into a means of acquiring personal wealth and power, thus those in power and position of leadership do all they can to keep others out.

They ignore the democratic principle, norms and conventions. In Africa politics ceases to be a properly organized competitive struggle for power; it becomes simply a struggle between those who have the power and want to keep it and those who wish to take it away from them and use it for their own personal benefits.

Hence the struggle between leaders resolve itself into one for the price of power and not as a competition for better policies and solutions to the peoples’ problems. …  And leadership recruitment entails a process of identification, nurturing, education and training.

This presupposes the existence of an enabling environment and institutions with mechanisms guided by principles, rules and codes of conduct by which potential leaders could be identified, attracted, nurtured and trained.

Such an enabling environment attracts independent individuals who are talented, educated and well informed, with vision or ideas and are ambitious to promote them for the benefit of the country.

These people need not be professional politicians attached to any particular party. They could be ordinary citizens who are sufficiently motivated to play an active role in public affairs.

The existence of such an enabling environment is very useful in that it facilitates the release of the talents, skills, enthusiasm, experience and enterprise from the multitude of the citizens.

It thus plays a critical role in the expansion and enrichment of the pool of resources from which leaders could be recruited. It enhances the empowerment of the people to choose their leaders.

It widens the options for various types of leadership for the talented and ambitious individual. It restricts the monopolistic powers of the political parties to impose their own leaders on the people. Mature democracies have such environments and institutions for the recruitment of leaders.

They are however products of deliberate actions and have taken a long time to evolve to the present state of performance.

Africa does not as yet have such environments or institutions. Certainly the tradition of open competition for leadership where several contenders take part is yet to be firmly grounded in Africa.

Admittedly Africa demands new leaders and a style of leadership that is competent, honest, visionary and committed, that can steer Africa from the vicious circles of endemic problems.

Indeed, a leadership that is in tune with the changing world, competent and committed to respond to the challenges and opportunities of globalisation. Clearly, that leadership is likely to emerge from the generation of young Africans.

There is now a generation of young Africans who are well educated and understands how to get things done in the modern globalizing world.

The major challenges are: one, how to synthesize the ideas, experience and wisdom of the past generation of leaders with the expertise and global perspectives of the young aspiring leaders; and two, how to create and sustain the synergetic impulses of the two generations of leaders.

Obviously the future belongs to the young generation of Africans. Yet policies made today are bound to affect their future: either as beneficiaries or victims.

They must therefore somehow be involved in the policy formulation process, and incrementally assume the responsibility of formulating the appropriate policies to respond to the challenges of globalization and the promotion of the African Renaissance.

But the future is part of the present and the present is the continuation of the past. The future entails uncertain changes that pose threats and challenges as well as opportunities and possibilities.

It is however difficult to anticipate the future and all the fears and threats it poses to some people, and challenges, opportunities and possibilities it presents to others, without a sound grasp of the present.

Equally it is impossible to have an objective understanding of the present and all its problems without some knowledge of the past and the circumstances which produced the present problems.

An objective comprehension of past events, the successes and failures and their underlying reasons, are impossible without a good grasp of the present. There has therefore to be a dynamic, selective and positive process of continuity with change.

A future without the past is meaningless and precarious. A future that is unaware of the mistakes, misunderstandings, lost opportunities and temptations of the past is bound to be a precarious one. And such a future would be meaningless if devoid of the ethical and social values, traditions and glories of the past.

It is right and proper that we should know about our past. For just as the future moves from the present so the present has emerged from the past. Nor need we be ashamed of our past.

There was much in it of glory. What our ancestors achieved in the context of their contemporary society gives us confidence that we can create, out of that past, a glorious future, not in terms of war and military pomp, but in terms of social progress and of eace… Our battles shall be against the old ideas that keep men trammelled in their own greed; against the crass stupidities that breed hatred, fear and inhumanity.

The heroes of our future will be those who can lead our people out of the stifling fog of disintegration through serfdom, into the valley of light where purpose, endeavour and determination will create that brotherhood which Christ proclaimed two thousand years ago, and about which so much is said, but little done.

Hence although it is true that the future belongs to the youth of the succeeding generation …  and the that future cannot however be entirely of the youth’s own making. The future contains selective elements of the present and the past.

The present is an inheritance of the past, handed over by the first generation or simply assumed by the succeeding generation. Like all inheritance the present is a product of hard work, pain, successes and failures, experience and rejoicing.

It should be appropriately preserved, and creatively and productively utilized. More importantly it should not be indiscriminately destroyed.

The youth must understand that today’s leaders are tomorrow’s seniors and veterans. And the record of their leadership will be the inheritance to the generation that would succeed them; and so on.

Or A Relay Race!  The past is a laboratory of social, economic and political experiments conducted by the first generation of African leaders. It is also a library, and a museum, that contains and preserves the thoughts, fears, inspiration and aspirations, as well as the artifacts, bits and pieces and the practical consequences of the actions of that generation of leaders.

It is unscientific and indeed unwise to assume that all the first generation of leaders failed. It is arguable that even the few who could be considered as successes made tremendous mistakes, some of which in retrospect are difficult to explain let alone defend.

Nonetheless, amongst the first generation of African leaders there are those who have owned and explained their actions, admitted the mistakes made and are prepared to share the accumulated knowledge and insights that only age and experience can offer.

These leaders are valuable durable assets that need to be utilized before they cease to be functional. The knowledge and experience they have accumulated over the last four decades of tremendous domestic and global changes are invaluable to the succeeding generation of leaders.

Unfortunately there are first generation African leaders who are suspicious of the young aspiring leaders, and some even hostile towards them. There are young African leaders who are acutely critical, and in some instances contemptuous, of the first generation of leaders.

This hostility and suspicion between the generations must not be allowed to continue; for while they last Africa is bound to be the greatest loser. Each needs the other.
The young need the experience, wisdom and sagacity of the senior to enable them better understand human nature, state-craft and the real world of economics and politics.

And the seniors need the expertise, energy, enthusiasm, vision and the commitment of the young to complement their own missions. Hence the leadership succession should be a relay rather than an obstacle race between the incumbent and succeeding generations of leaders.

The incumbent generation of leaders should consider leadership as a responsibility and trust to be exercised on behalf of the people, to promote their welfare and provide peace, security and stability.

And as an intricate part of the trust and responsibility each succeeding generation of leaders should create and promote an enabling environment for subsequent succeeding generations of leaders.

What Needs to Be Done:  One, strengthening the key institutions supportive of democracy and good governance: parliament; political parties; civil society; NGOs; press and media; and the think-tanks.

Two, promoting the major principles supportive of the key institutions: freedom, human rights, democracy; good governance; open society; pluralism; multi-party politics; accountability and transparency; and constitutionalism Accountability and transparency are integral parts of democracy and good governance.

Accountability and transparency cannot prevail without democracy. There cannot be good governance without accountability and transparency.

Yet democracy itself cannot exist without accountability and transparency. Nor good governance prevails without democracy.

There is thus an interdependent and mutually supportive relationship between accountability, transparency, democracy and good governance.

What promotes and sustains this relationship are the principles of constitutionalism. These include the rule of law, separation of powers and human rights.

The constitution is a major legal and political document. It is a cluster of fundamental constitutional principles encompassing basic freedoms and human rights, as well as a corpus of legal, social and political processes.

It is the source of power, authority and legitimacy for all the key players in the development processes: government, private sector and the civil society.

The constitution legitimizes and authorizes actions taken by governments; it also empowers and sanctions the people to question and challenge those actions.

And it is precisely for these reasons that people are now demanding revisiting and rewriting their constitutions, to ensure that the powers of governments are effectively checked and balanced by those of the people. People were not involved in the making of the constitutions under which they are now governed.

It [constitution making] is actually the most fundamental political process in any nation’s history. It is the historical rendezvous between the State and society … a time when the government and the people review their past history as well as their present needs and their future.

It is a meeting point between these three points in time when people ask themselves: How shall we organize our government? What are the most fundamental values that we cherish and want to nurture, promote and protect?

So while power is an important aspect of constitution making, there is some- thing even more important and that is fundamental rights and duties.

It is difficult and certainly undesirable to create special conditions or mechanisms for youth leadership succession.

Email: bbazimya@yahoo.co.uk