By Clifton Mayaba Chifuwe
First and foremost, a strong leader can loosely be defined as one with the art of influencing others to achieve a common goal. Strong leaders do not make politically correct decision but correct ones.
They are strong because they are decisive and are able to control their emotions and are visionary. They confront problems with precision and resolve required. On the other hand, a weak leader can be defined as one who gets subdued by emotions.
One who cannot control emotions, visionless, abuses the privilege of leadership. Weak leaders have a default setting of “play it safe” as they often fail to confront the problem but focus on threatening those they perceive as against them. They make “politically correct” decisions forgetting that being “politically correct” does not solve problems but rather exacerbates them.
They are simply narrow mined leaders and their memory can only be equated to that of a chicken. They forget so easily and thrive on intimidating those they lead. The loved to be feared which misconstrue as respect. They are a total opposite of true and strong leaders who believe that being respected is better than being feared. Let me put things in context.
In 2016 February, president Lungu travelled to the Vatican for a meeting with officials there. As per tradition, he was scheduled to address Zambians living in Italy. It was at this meeting where President Lungu declared himself as a “Weak leader.” Whether this statement was intentional or otherwise, it pays paying attention to it critically.
It is my considered view that this was a calculated statement that was intelligently mixed with another yet untrue statement about himself-“But I am very resolved.” Resolved leaders make tough decisions and in the best interest of the people they lead. Tribalism and corruption have reached unprecedented levels under Mr. Lungu’s watch yet he has not done anything to show he is resolved to end these insidious vices.
If anything, he’s the champion of them. Mr Lungu revealed a weakness that is unprecedented in recent history among Zambian presidents. Anyway, it’s never surprising; this is the same man who at one point publicly declared he had no vision of his own whatsoever. Sadly, he has succeeded in raping someone else’s.
With the aforesaid, it would be safe for me to say, Zambia has plunged into the current mess because of weak leadership. Allow me also to put a caveat that any leader who ascends to power in an authoritarian system has the potential of wreaking havoc and imposing suffering within his/her own country.
Such leaders (which I believe president Lungu is) forget that those who deserve the greatest respect lead not by domineering. They know that great leaders do not concentrate a lot of power in their hands; they don’t dominate both a wide swath of public policy and the political party they belong to.
They are aware that great leaders value integrity, intelligence, articulateness, collegiality, shrewd judgement, a questioning mind, willingness to seek divergent views, ability to absorb information (especially constructive criticism), flexibility, good memory, vision and empathy.
Believe it or not, these are missing in our “humble” president. It is no wonder he does not seem to be with the voters but those who have held him hostage politically, the likes of Bowman Lusambo. He cannot fire them irrespective of their ill behavior because he is weak and afraid of not making correct decisions politically.
The curtail of weak leaders are damn scared and have resorted to issuing threats to the very people come next year they will be kneeling to while canvassing for their votes. For the avoidance of doubt, let be known that there are several pointers that can help you identify a weak leaders but are not limited to the following:
- Weak leaders have no vision: a visionless leader is one who cannot inspire or motivate others towards a common goal. They are failures. They do not know that a leader’s profound job is to align things if they are not well. Like the proverbial saying, “How can the blind lead the blind?” Perhaps the only success and common goal Mr. Lungu has managed to lead others to, is corruption, intolerance to divergent political views, intimidation of citizens who elected them and gave them the power they are today using to threaten them, and tribalism.
- Weak to leaders fail to lead oneself: it does not matter how persuasive one can be. Weak leaders do not care about integrity and a leadership that endures a test of time. They pre-occupy themselves with the now and then. For president Lungu, this is evident. It is alleged that he failed to run a law firm left for him and that he ate his client’s money and as a consequence, his law practicing licence was cancelled by the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ).
- All about them and know it all: collegiality is not in them and they lack empathy for the people who elected them. They are not humble but pretentiously appear so. There is no doubt, Lungu is obsessed with power and he can do anything to remain there even when he has shown great weaknesses. For example, he loves the Chinese and hates his fellow Zambians. Those who try to stand by the people, they are not greeted and those who brutalize Zambians are praised.
- No communication: weak leaders fear to face the people. When they do, it is all about threats. “I will fall on you like tones of bricks” or “I will use my big stick and whip you.” This is the only kind of communication they know best. Okay let’s be practical, when was the last time our president addressed the nation without the outcry of the people that he should address them?
- Satisfied with the status quo: have you ever wondered why president Lungu has never take bold steps to fight tribalism and corruption. It is because he’s okay with it. Because Kaunda hated tribalism, he could not allow a minister to continue serving after such utterances. In president Lungu’s administration, one of the qualifications to be a minister and to have a high position in government is to be tribal. No step taken to reprimand Nkando Luo and others for issuing tribal remarks. Talk of corruption, he actually defends those involved in it but is quick to threaten and to reprimand harmless youths who criticize his leadership, corruption, tribalism and mismanagement of the natural wealth.
- Manipulative: weak leaders are not sensitive to the repercussions of their actions. They do not care whatsoever about the future. This is clear in the case of gifting the mining of gold to Sudanese company at a give-away price of $2.5 million dollars and paying a colossal amount of $5 million dollars for debt restructuring. Another example is BILL 10. It is clear that president Lungu and PF are afraid of 2021 and have resolved to use disgruntled NGOs to manipulate their stay in power by manipulating Zambians through campaigns for BILL 10 conducted by hungry and poverty stricken leaders of some NGOs. They will still strive to manipulate the parliamentally system by buying off some unprincipled MPs when seating resumes next week.
- They are compulsive liars: weak leaders are fine with fabrication of stories such as the recent utterances by the DMMU boss who accused Southerners of being ungovernable people and said they are spreading untrue information about COVID-19. Weak people can fake anything to show they are working.
Sadly, most if not all of the above weak leader identifiers are true for the man who occupies the most powerful officer of our land. Can we then expect and trust that such a driver or leader can reach us to our desired destination? Impossible!
Let me be blunt here, I have never believed in the manifesto of PF either under the leadership of another compulsive liar Sata or the current captain. Unfortunately he died before he could undo many of the lies to had told Zambians. He had promised to deal with the scourge of corrupt Chinese, didn’t he go to borrow money from the same people.
He promised to give us a people driven constitution within 90 day, more money in our pockets, lower taxes and a pro-poor government. What he never told us before his death was that all these were embedded in the famous “DONCHI KUBEBA” slogan.
The brutality we see today is among Sata’s greatest achievements. However, he strove to curb corruption which was a good thing that Lungu has successfully reversed.
Let me end this way. The threats by Lusambo, Kampyongo and president Lungu on harmless and defenceless citizens are indicative of the police state we are slowly getting into. These intimidations and even execution of such archaic methods of leadership will get worse next year as we build up to general elections.
Arbitrary arrests, killings, oppression and imprisonment of those with dissenting views will go up. The police will play a huge role as it was already hinted by the “Humble President.” The only wing that will make a difference, hopefully, is the army, without which, many people will lose their lives at the hands of weak leaders.
They will shut our voices by employing the most subtle and brutal methods. Many will be made criminal, not because they would have committed any felon, but because of standing on the convictions of their conscience. But here is what they need to know in advance, violence by government can only achieve one thing and that is to bring counter-violence.
The more they will seek to be repressive, the more people will revolt. Mandela once said, “Not even the most repressive regime can stop human beings from finding ways of communicating and obtaining access to information.” Therefore, it is not their threats that will silence us but their reasonableness.
To the Zambian people and particularly the youth and women you must know that, if you die for refusing to bow or oblige to the oppressor’s demands, you are the ultimate winner, yes, the oppressor would have managed to kill you but would not have managed to get the loyalty they wanted from you. The disaster of having weak leaders in positions of authority is huge. It is far greater than the 2004 Asian tsunami.
Authored by: Clifton Mayaba Chifuwe
BA Peace and Conflict Resolution (Cand)
President-Rusangu Student Council (SRC), Block Release
He is also a consultant Trainer for the Families Matter! Program
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The views in this article do not in part or full, represent the views of Rusangu University or that of the student council. They represent the author’s independent views and understanding of issues, not even of this tabloid. We are just the mouthpiece!