When I think about the African leaders we have and compare the state of our African nations pre and post independence, I find myself asking the question: "Of what value is the hard won independence that African nations commemorate on a yearly basis?
African leaders are becoming increasingly democratic and are making significant progress in liberalising the political environment. They are more accountable to their citizens, and showing more respect for human rights and civil liberties. Whilst good governance is gaining ground in Africa, it's happening at a snail’s pace and the bad eggs still linger.
Last week, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, appointed himself as oil minister and will be naming his new cabinet on Tuesday. Upon his appointment as President, Buhari, vowed to tackle the inherent problem of corruption in Nigeria. On Friday, Nigeria's former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke was arrested in London.
The US Daily Show host, South African Trevor Noah, reminded me of this when last week, he argued that Trump may actually be an ideal president—for Africa. He said: “For me, as an African, there’s just something familiar about Trump that makes me feel at home,” said Noah, who is from South Africa. Noah then compared comments made by Trump (on everything from immigration to self-praise) to comments made by a variety of current and former African leaders, including South African president Jacob Zuma, Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, and even the former Libyan leader, Muammar al-Gaddafi.Trevor Noah’s comments are indicative of the leadership issues Africa faces. Issues of constitutionalism, good governance and democracy are determined by the type of leadership in a country and/or continent. After 50 years of independence, leadership in Africa still struggles to promote pro-people policies that accommodate the needs of the populace. Leadership deficiency is a cause for concerning African countries in terms of progressive and visionary leadership.
African politicians need to provide good leadership qualities so as to consolidate democracy and good governance. The seven characteristics of good leadership are:
- Integrity – ‘The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is …. on a football field, in an army or in an office’ said former US President Eisenhower.
- Service – As Oswald Sanders wrote, ‘True leadership is achieved not by reducing people to one’s service, but in giving oneself in selfless service to them.
- Sensitivity – Steven Covey wrote that it is important to seek first to understand your context and then seek to be understood.
- Competency – The ability to demonstrate both professional and leadership competencies with regards to sufficient understanding about the vision, mission and goals of their institution or nation.
- Accountability – Taking personal responsibility for actions and omissions.
Good governance and effective leadership are required at all levels of leadership in private, public and civil organisations and essential to in order to achieve and sustain effective administration.
Seth Godwin wrote: ‘Transformational leaders don’t start by denying the world around them. Instead, they describe a future they’d like to create instead.’ Therefore, an essential element of leadership is vision. African leaders need strong visionary leadership in order to consolidate democracy, good governance, provide added value to their people and in so doing, enhance the brand image of Africa.
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