AS the October general elections draw closer, the election campaigns by the participating political parties are, correspondingly, also gathering momentum. The Presidential candidates in particular, are busy all over the country, wooing voters with a dazzling array of promises.
A total of 15 candidates will be on the Union Presidential ballot paper for the October 28th general elections.
As expected, the incumbent President and CCM candidate, Dr. John Pombe Magufuli, who is seeking re-election for his second and final term; is proudly basing his campaign mainly on his sterling, outstanding performance during his first term in office, drawing attention particularly to the massive investments he has successfully made in various physical infrastructures.
This can be manifested in the construction of new roads and bridges, the construction of historic mega projects like the Standard Gauge Railway, and the new grand Nyerere hydropower generation project; plus other investments in the vastly increased water and health infrastructure and services, the purchase of a large number of new aircraft for the national airline, the vastly increased rural electricity connection, the provision of free Primary and junior Secondary education (and its associated investment in the rapid expansion of the related school infrastructures)
Also, the industrialization of the country, and fine tuning the economy, among many others; and thereafter asking the voters to just allow him to serve another term, so that he can complete the on-going, unfinished jobs and projects.
And on their part, the Opposition parties’ candidates are also making their firm promises to the voters, as generously reported in the mass media on a daily basis. All of this is, of course, very well , and highly commendable. Because that is precisely what people normally expect to hear from the aspiring election candidates.
However, in this article, I have set out to address another matter which I consider to be of equally crucial importance to the voters, while exercising their democratic right of choosing their leaders at the time of elections. This is the all important matter of ETHICS, that I wish to address in today’s article.
“Ethics is the heart of leadership”
In all general elections, but particularly so in the Presidential elections, voters normally seek to elect a “good leader ”. In the light of that, I wish, respectfully, to submit that “ethics” is the sine qua non of ‘good leadership’.
Consequently, during this period of the ‘build up’ to this year’s October Presidential election, I consider it not only useful, but also helpful to the voters, for me to make a little contribution towards the enhancement of the voters’ knowledge and understanding of this crucial matter by providing a little more elaboration, especially regarding the meaning of the “ethics” concept itself, plus its value and significance, in order to enable them to give sufficient, and appropriate weight, to the possession of the requisite “leadership ethics” as an exceedingly vital qualification for the Presidential candidate who deserves to be elected.
Elaboration : defining the word “ethics”.
The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines the word “ethics” as follows: “Ethics is a system of moral principles, or rules of behavior, that influence a person’s behavior”.
Other books of authority on this subject, describe “ethics” as “what defines right from wrong, or good from evil, in relation to the actions, volitions, and character traits of human beings”; and further that “ethics is all pervasive . . . It is the defining factor in the life of an individual, as well as in his relationship with other persons who may be affected by his actions, or decisions”.
These definitions are very helpful in enabling the voters to have a clearer understanding, and presumably a better appreciation, of the positive impact that is being created in our Society by President Magufuli’s refreshing efforts in transforming the “ethics”, or the moral behavior, of our public officials through the steps he has been taking during his first term in office, by firmly and promptly fighting impunity, and moral laxity, amongst that influential group of public officials.
President Magufuli’s performance in relation to ethics.
As early as April and May, 2016, when President John Pombe Magufuli had been in office for only about six months, his ‘refreshing’ ethics stance had already earned him plenty of goodwill, even beyond Tanzania’s borders.
This was evidenced by the speech delivered by President Kagame of Rwanda, when he was welcoming his guest, President John Pombe Magufuli, on the occasion of President Magufuli’s official visit to Rwanda, in April, 2016, in which President Paul Kagame said the following :- “Your presence on the leadership scene has been totally refreshing. Your words and deeds also reflect our vision; and in particular, your robust stance against corruption, is particularly refreshing”.
Similar remarks were made and reported in THE CITIZEN newspaper of 2nd May 2016, by two foreign Diplomatic envoys based in Dar es Salaam; who had said this: “Since assuming office in November last year, President Magufuli has been taking robust steps to address graft. He has already suspended a number of senior officials over corruption and misuse of public funds, in his determined crusade to address corruption”.
In actual fact, by that time President Magufuli had already identified himself with three specific “ethics – related” areas to which he had given top priority. These were: (i) cutting unnecessary and wasteful public expenditure; (ii) fighting impunity in the public Service; and (iii) effectively tackling corruption, which had long plagued our nation.
These were the three most prominent areas in which a serious lack of the requisite ‘leadership ethics’ had been demonstrated among some of our leaders. President Magufuli’s ‘ robust’ actions greatly helped to draw public attention to the extraordinary extent to which these maladies had penetrated our entire governance system.
This created the necessary awareness needed for everyone to fully support these robust steps, in order to ensure that all relevant actors in the governance system are made to comply with the stipulated ‘leadership code of ethics’.
A tribute to the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.
Any discussion regarding the importance of ‘ethics’, and its relevance as a vital qualification for leadership, will inevitably evoke memories of Mwalimu Nyerere’s teachings in respect thereof.
Hence, this quickly reminds me of the statement made by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in the Tanganyika Legislative Council in May 1959 when he was a member thereof, in which he said the following:- “The guaranteed safeguard of the peoples’ rights, or of their freedoms, and of those other things which they greatly value, is the presence of what I will call "the ethic of the nation"
If the people of a given nation do not have a ‘national ethic’ to guide them; it really does not matter what kind of Constitution you frame for them; for such people can still become victims of tyranny from their unethical leaders . . .
We in Tanganyika, must therefore endeavour continuously to build a “ national ethic” for ourselves; for it is only the existence of such ‘national ethic’ that will, for example, oblige even the Head of State, whoever he may be, to always pause before taking any action that appears to be controversial, and caution himself thus: I know that I have the power to do this under the Constitution; but I will not do it, because it will be a breach of the national ethic”.
It is, presumably, this particular commitment to build “a national ethic”, that must have moved President Nyerere to include the “Leadership code” in the famous Arusha Declaration of 1967. Thus, to all intents and purposes, President Magufuli is faithfully following the footsteps of Mwalimu Nyerere, by quietly implementing the provisions of the (seemingly) now abandoned historic Arusha Declaration.
And this adds value to President Magifuli’s efforts; for it even negates Mark Anthony’s contention in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, in which he said that “the evil that men do lives after their death; but the good is often interred with their bones”.
Thanks to President Magufuli’s initiatives, the “good” that Mwalimu Nyerere did regarding the need to create “a national ethic” was, fortunately, “not interred with his bones on 14th October, 1999; but has lived on, even long after his death.
The Nyerere Prize for Ethics.
Having thus referred to Mwalimu Nyerere’s firm stance on the matter of leadership ethics; I should perhaps take this opportunity, to also make reference to the existence of a seemingly little known award, which is the “Nyerere Prize for Ethics”.
Not long after Mwalimu Nyerere’s death, a gathering of Representatives from different African countries (with active support from many other individuals and Organizations), took the significant step of establishing an African Continental Award, to be known as the “Nyerere Prize for Ethics”; which they instituted in honour of the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in recognition of his exemplary ethical leadership of Tanzania.
The said Prize is intended to be awarded to African leaders “who have demonstrated outstanding ethical conduct in their leadership roles”. I am not aware of any African leader who has so far been granted this Award; but it is important for its existence to be widely known and propagated.
The place of ethics in elections
A general election is, basically, an activity in selecting persons who will become government leaders at the different levels of the country’s governance for the ensuing five year period.
The books of authority on the general subject of leadership, define leadership as “the ability to influence, or inspire others, to move in a given direction, or to undertake some purposeful action; plus inducing obedience by voluntary consent, respect, loyalty, and cooperation”; and further that “leadership is, essentially, a kind of influence-relationship based on trust, obligation, commitment, and shared vision”.
For purposes of emphasis, I will repeat what I stated at the beginning of this article, namely that, as part of the ‘warming up’ to the forthcoming October general election, I am making this presentation primarily in order to contribute to the enhancement of the voters’ knowledge and understanding of this matter, that is the ‘ethics of the individual candidate’ is a vital qualification which needs to be taken into consideration when deciding on which of the 15 Presidential candidates deserves to be given victory at this year’s Presidential election.
This is important because, ethics is the heart of leadership. Hence, as an additional qualification, the country’s President should, as a matter of course, be deeply conscious of the role, and significance, of ethics as a vital component of leadership, and be fully committed to its observance.
According to the same books of authority on leadership, “some people become leaders because they possess certain talents, charisma, or passion; or because of their wealth, job title, or family name. Others become leaders because they possess great minds or ideas, or they can tall compelling stories; and then there are those who stumble into leadership because of the times they live in, or the circumstances in which they find themselves”.
It is my humble submission that we, the voters of Tanzania, should always endeavour to elect , as our top leaders, only those persons who, to quote from the Nyerere Prize for Ethics: “have demonstrated outstanding ethical conduct in their leadership roles”.
(will continue next week)
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