Occupying public office is not a financial break-through: Mbofana

Tendai Ruben Mbofana


…but is about servant leadership and sacrificing writes Tendai Ruben Mbofana

Having become what were referred to as Boy Scouts in those days (now simply known as Scouts, since girls are now part of the movement) from a very tender age, I learnt some vital values and principles, which have guided me in my life.

Central to everything that we did was the Scout Promise, which stated – ‘I promise to do my best, to do my duty to God and my Country, to help other people, and keep the Scout Law’.

Of course, this Scout Law was also largely premised on how to fulfil this Promise, so that our daily lives were centred around serving God, Country and People.

From a very young age, it was inculcated in us to place the interests of others – even to the point of sacrifice – ahead of ourselves.

One of the things that hurt me today is seeing how the Scouting Movement has gone downhill in Zimbabwe – and, practically invisible in my own community – since, this would have been a crucial training tool for our little ones, in order to train them up for responsible adulthood.

In fact, I wish our leaders in Zimbabwe had been Scouts in their childhoods.

I am quite convinced that – except for one or two who would have fallen short, as can be expected from any group – today, we would have had people in power who fully grasped what ‘servant leadership’ was all about.

It is about sacrifice!

I have so many loving concerned friends, relatives, and even readers whom I am not personally familiar, contacting me expressing worry over my safety, due to the type of articles (and, now short videos) I produce – considering the brutal toxic political environment we live in.

However, I assure them by simply saying, “I truly appreciate your concerns, but I’ll be alright”.

Indeed, I know the risks that are present in Zimbabwe, but it has become my nature to do my duty to God and my Country, and to help other people – no matter what the risks involved may be.

Mind you, as I have repeated numerous times before – I neither receive, nor have I ever asked for, payment for what I do.

Mind you, I am not privileged – as those who know me personally, are all too familiar with the financial struggles I am enduring.

What I do is a kind of ‘servant leadership’ – as I serve my Jehovah God, my Zimbabwe, and the people of this country.

Let us remember that leadership comes in various shapes and forms – since, one does not necessarily have to occupy a fancy office with some intimidating title to be a leader.

It is not some pursuit into bravado, or a way to enrich myself – but, to ‘lead’ in ensuring that the people of Zimbabwe attain the dignity and prosperity that their Creator desires for them.

Yet, my heart bleeds whenever I witness those who have either been elected or appointed into public office – as a form of leadership – perceiving this privilege largely as an opportunity for self-aggrandizement.

Instead of treating this honor as a mandate to serve, to the point of personal sacrifice, the people whom they are entrusted to lead – they would rather use this for personal gain.

Surely, what sense is there when we hear of mayors, town clerks, legislators, cabinet ministers, and even the president demanding, and being showered with, endless astounding perks – yet, the people they should be leading continue to wallow in poverty, or even their plight worsening?In what way is that ‘servant leadership’?

How does a mayor or town clerk serve his community when he feels entitled to the latest pricey vehicle – for instance, Toyota Prado VXs, or Toyota Fortuner GD6s, purchased at astronomical costs, perhaps in the US$120,000 range each – whilst, the ordinary people one is supposed to serve have not had any potable water for months or years?

On what basis does a legislator believe he is serving his constituency, when he accepts a US$40,000 supposed ‘housing loan’ – when his own community is failing to secure funds for decent schools adequate for its children, or health care facilities with sufficient medical provisions?

Where is the ‘servant leadership’ when cabinet ministers and their deputies are awarded US$500,000 and US$350,000 each respectively – in the midst of a country that is going for over 20 hours in the dark every day, as a result of the lack of any meaningful investment in reliable electricity generation?

What manner of ‘servant leadership’ is there when a president and his vice each take home US$8,946 per month – in a country where half the population earns less than US$1.90 a day (in extreme poverty), and the average civil servant receiving US$100 net monthly salary, in a country with the highest food inflation (353 percent) in the world?

In the midst of all this, these senior government officials have the audacity to use public funds to have solar power systems installed in their homes, at a cost of US$14,000 each – in spite of the actually price being between US$3,000 and US$5,000 for a complete 5 Kva system – meaning someone somewhere is prejudicing the taxpayer…the same taxpayer who is spending the better part of the day without electricity!

We will not even go into the fact that this is the same political elite that generously parcelled themselves grandiose pieces of land – under the pretext of ‘addressing colonial imbalances’ – whilst, the majority of Zimbabweans have nowhere to call their own.

They, similarly, have no qualms at all laying their looting hands on our mineral resources – with reportedly over US$1.5 billion worth of gold being smuggled out of the country annually, whilst over US$25 billion of diamond revenue unaccounted for in the past 15 years.

In what way, can any of this be genuinely described as ‘servant leadership’ – or, do we need to change the definition of this term so as to suit those who clearly act more like medieval ruthless and heartless monarchs, than modern day democratically elected civilized leaders?

Surely, how else can anyone appropriately describe people who are prepared to even steal food aid and agricultural inputs that are meant to buffer the suffering in their own communities?

If anything, instead of all these vicious attempts at passing laws that stifle the function of NGOs operating in the country (as the Private Voluntary Organizations Bill) – those in public office need to rope in these organizations to invite them for seminars on what actually entails ‘servant leadership’.

From my own Scouting upbringing – whose values and principles are well entrenched in my heart and soul – maybe, I can even teach them a thing or two!

Being placed in public office is not, and should never be regarded as, some form of financial breakthrough – as an opportunity for one to acquire the lifestyle he failed to achieve on his own abilities and intellect.

What these people in power are doing is far divorced from ‘doing their duty to God and the Country, and helping other people’.

What they are doing is nothing more than serving themselves, their families, and their close allies.

‘Servant leadership’ is about sacrifice – even of one’s own life – in placing the hopes and aspirations of those one leads ahead of his own.

• Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975

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