By Given Mutinta
Our human nature, the basis of character does not allow us to be intensely selfless and selfish at the same time. The two behaviours are like light and darkness that cannot co-exist. There is either one or the other, but not both.
In the run-up to last year’s presidential elections President Michael Sata passionately campaigned on a ‘pro-poor’ ticket. Consequently, people believed that he was a selfless leader as he is referred to by his praise team.
Very few people knew that his ‘pro-poor’ mantra was another blue and scurrilous lie meant to lubricate his road to State House.
Barely a year in office he increased his salary and allowances by more than 100 percent. He is currently building his K1.4 billion retirement house, a clear assault on our statutes.
This level of egocentrism is repugnant. How does a ‘pro-poor’ leader increase his salary and allowances when more than 70 per cent of the population is living under the poverty datum line?
It is our first time to have a president like Sata displaying a very uncaring and strong ‘me first’ idiosyncrasy. His attitude is terrifying and common among irredeemably selfish people.
The short time he has been in office he has proved beyond reasonable doubt that he is a leader who puts himself and his needs on the forefront. He only gives heed to his priorities, his goals and in the process does not think of the poor that sent him to State House.
When it comes to getting his needs met, he turns a deaf ear and blind eye to the poor. Different sections of our society have futilely implored him to stop the illegal construction of his retirement house. He does not believe in the ‘live and let live’ way of life. He is constantly and urgently putting his own needs and desires first living heftily for himself at the expense of the poor.
Today, all people with sturdy consciences know Sata’s true colours. He is not a selfless leader he claimed to be or he is praised to be. He is an archetypal representation of a self-seeking leader who views people only as a means to get what he wants. His tunnel vision starts from and leads to himself and ends with his personal needs.
His self-seeking leadership style seems to be propelled by the fear of loss of power making his government to be characterized by intense internal and external scheming and plotting most of the times.
It is greediness that Sata wants to control everything by maligning others and misrepresenting national issues. For instance, the illegal and unconstitutional grabbing of the Road Development Agency (RDA) to State House exposes his self-absorbed leadership style. His dosage of limitless innate desire to control everything and his repugnance to listen to voices of reason is stunning.
It is poor leadership to be calculative and an accumulator in a society with deteriorating basic services and where more than 42 per cent of the population is living in severe poverty, more than 15 per cent are living on the streets, more 48 per cent of children have no access to education, and the list goes on.
To be a good leader is to learn to throw away some of the things one wants to have without being afraid that others will pick them up. It is insalubrious for a president to promote selfish political behaviour. It gives people in leadership a grave tendency to hold and hoard resources to themselves at the cost of the poor. It also makes them see or hear no one else except themselves.
If Sata had room for the poor he would have straight off disallowed the increase of his salary and allowances by 100 percent. He would have also rebuffed the illegal construction of his retirement house and the illegal allocation of K1.5 billion to his wife, Dr. Christine Kaseba’s non-existing office in the 2013 national budget. Where are we heading to as nation if Sata is to be allowed to bring the focus on himself with impunity?
We are all selfish to a degree, but when the traits go beyond control of swelling your salary and allowances by 100 percent and illegally building a retirement house barely a year in office shows that one’s greediness is down to the core. How can one be a selfless leader when he is intensely turning back everything to himself? This is not the kind of leadership we need in this time and age!
Sata should be very careful with his assuming soul. It may cost him dearly after leaving office. Just like immunity is given it can also be lifted and make one live to regret one’s narcissistic behaviour.
As long as we have self-absorbed leaders, then, misplaced priorities, misapplication and misappropriation of resources will be a common phenomenon and our country will never develop.
Selfless leadership is vital to national transformation and development. A leader cannot influence development if he cannot make people’s needs his own.
True ‘men of the people’ are those that are able to shift their sentience and consciousness to the needs of the poor by suspending their focus on self-needs. Through selfless leadership, however, personal-needs organically come back into the equation.
Sata should put the poor ahead of what he can gain as a president. There can never be true leadership without a degree of selflessness. It requires putting the lowly we lead ahead of ourselves.
Countrymen and women, the virtue of selflessness is not a new phenomenon. Most of our cultural traditions and even religions eulogize selfless leadership. It is for this reason that it is shocking and hard to comprehend Sata’s egotism. He is now more known for the size of his ego and the cults of personality that surrounds him.
It is disheartening to see the so called leaders spending most of their energies focusing on their personal rewards and status rather than focusing on those they are called to serve.
Genuine leaders find pleasure in their ability to gain genuine followers not listening to deceptive praises. At the level Sata is focusing on himself, what reason can he give the poor why he should continue to be in State House or be voted into office again in 2016?
We do not need to spend years 27 years on Robben Island like Mandela to have compassion for the poor. What does it pay a leader to win presidential elections if he cannot serve his people selflessly?
Let us subordinate our personal needs and egos to serve the poor. Putting the poor ahead of our personal goals is the kind of leadership our country needs.
Surely, all leaders have huge egos but true leaders also have a strong will of iron that puts the poor first. Therefore, selfish leadership is a sign of failure to first love the people we are called to serve.
No amount of duplicitous praises can transform a selfish leader to be ‘a man of the people’ if he believes himself to be his own centre, the beginning and end of all he does.