Zimbabwe And Death Of Ethical Leadership


By Lloyd Msipa

When President Mugabe stood in front of fellow citizens at the national heroes’ acre last week, offering an apology as to the absence of the first lady from the burial of two national heroines.

He told them she was away in Singapore because their daughter was expecting their grandchild. The irony was not lost to many of his inner circle who listened albeit ashamedly on his behalf.

There is a man who governs a country with some of the worst rundown hospitals in the world, such that Zimbabweans go to hospital to die instead of being treated and his own daughter was receiving world standard hospital treatment in Singapore.

And to add insult to injury, the people were told that the doctors in Singapore are familiar with her and the first family hence the need to go there.

There is something definitely wrong with this picture.

Why do we Zimbabweans accept such mediocrity? Why do we continue to accept such unethical leadership?

According to a leading Czech scholar, Ken Peters, the problem has not been the leaders that we have chosen. He puts the fault squarely on the Zimbabwean people. He says we are the authors of our own demise.

In his own words he says

“The danger to Zimbabwe is not Robert Mugabe, but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of a Mugabe presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgement to a depraved electorate, willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr Mugabe, who is a mere symptom of what ails Zimbabwe. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. Zimbabwe can survive a Robert Mugabe who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their President.” – Ken Peters, Professor of Economics, Czech Republic

The way we choose our leaders has been premised on a flawed process of individualising the state and its relationship with the people.

In other words our method of choosing our leaders has been largely unethical. Despite knowing the apparent flaws of would be leaders, we the people of Zimbabwe have deliberately put individuals on a pedestal, above the state.

When President Robert Mugabe, then Prime Minister of a newly independent Zimbabwe, declared he wanted a one party state in Zimbabwe.

His government Ministers stampeded over themselves and amended the then Lancaster House Constitution, giving President Robert Mugabe sweeping Executive powers.

The political culture that developed since then saw President Robert Mugabe’s powers grow bigger than the State.

Ever since then we have had a dogmatic political culture were men of stature have compromised their manhood and literally created a culture of grovelling before President Mugabe at every instance.

This lack of ethical leadership among the politicians of Zimbabwe has been shaping our political culture for many years now.

Firebrand politicians like former Member of Parliament for Sunning dale Margaret Dongo pointed this out very early in the political life of Zimbabwe by calling Zimbabwean politicians who were scared of challenging President Mugabe’s unilateralism as “Mugabe wives”.

So when Ken Peters refers to Mugabe as merely symptomatic of a much deeper problem, he means the institutionalised unethical political culture were leaders have seized to be accountable to the people they lead. In fact the people are now beholden to the leadership for their survival.

Ethical leadership the world over is premised on a political culture that builds strong institutions were individual interest can never ever take precedence over institutions of the state.

In Zimbabwe, the Constitution is the supreme law. No individual or group of individuals should be allowed to make decisions that override the Constitutions of the State.

Zimbabwe, we need to retrace our footsteps and find out where we went wrong. As the American President, Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Patriotism means to stand by the country.

It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country.

It is patriotic to support him in so far as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country.”


Lloyd Msipa is an analyst based in the United Kingdom. He writes in his personal capacity



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