Sunday, 21 February 2016

Ssebo ‘Triumphs’ In A Reverie Democracy



The major highlight of the week has undoubtedly been the just concluded general elections in Uganda. It was a cliffhanger that many individuals were keen at some with expectations that the status quo would prevail and some with expectations that this would be a breakthrough in the national political leadership of the Pearl of Africa. Of course, with common sense, witnessing a win for Kizza Besigye and a loss for Kaguta Museveni was the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

So, apparently yesterday the Electoral Commission led by one Engineer Badru Kiggundu declared ironman Yoweri Museveni as the winner for the presidential contest with approximately 63% of the total votes cast. His friend-turned-foe Colonel(Rtd) Dr. Kizza Besigye came a distant second with about 32% of the votes. For Museveni it was a political victory to extend his 30-year rule but for Besigye it was a moral victory for the progressive Ugandans.

During the earlier times of his regime, the incumbent was overly critical of African leaders who occupied political office for relatively longer periods of time. He often remarked on how such leaders were the major bottleneck to the progress of socio-economic development in Africa. But he seems to have mastered and perfected this art of political leadership.

The general elections in Uganda, to say the least, were marred by claims of rigging among other electoral malpractices, activities which led to the rejection of the final results by the Opposition chief Kizza Besigye. There are events that took place which picture this election as one that wasn’t free and fair. One is the supposed delay in the start of the voting exercise across the country. If indeed the Electoral Commission was utterly prepared for this event I miss the point as to why it would allow delays in the kicking-off of the exercise. 

Secondly, there were attempts by some of the police officers to literally and physically run away with ballot boxes after sensing that the Opposition was winning in some of the polling stations. This sounds a bit funny but it is a revelation on how the government machinery would do just anything to win the elections. 

Thirdly, the orders issued by the state agencies to media houses and the Opposition not to run separate tallying of votes is also a clue that the votes could have been rigged in some areas. What if they were allowed to run the separate tallying of votes? This could be a recipe for chaos  and being ‘wise’ the government honchos had to come up with measures to checkmate this move. Fourthly, the relatively large number of spoilt votes numbering 400,000 plus leaves a lot to be desired in terms of transparency of the polls.

All these events are a pointer that the governance institutions in Uganda have been highly compromised to sing the song of the Musevenism and even dance to the tunes and the beats of this political philosophy and establishment. The Electoral Commission and the police have been used to advance this agenda. In fact, there was a unit established under the police known as the Crime Preventers. This comprises of civilians who are supposed to ensure there is community policing. But the query is why such a unit was set up just when the general election was around the corner.

Many young Ugandans aged 30 years and below have been born when Kaguta was at the helm of the country’s leadership and they have never known any other president and there is a possibility that they will see him as the president for the next 15 to 20 years. Museveni believes that no any other person is suitable to be Uganda’s commander-in-chief apart from him and his family members. There is word that he is grooming his son, who leads the special forces of Uganda, to be the next chief executive. 

Ssebo belongs to the political club and clique of African leaders who have been at the helm of political leadership for decades, surviving in power through the creation of reverie democracies. They allow elections to take place in fact on a periodical and regular basis to create the impression that they propagate democracy and its cardinals. Despite the fact that progressive democracy remains a mythology and illusion in most of the African states, reverie democracies have become the standard. The latter democracies are characterized with pre-determination of the election results a case that has been clearly evident in Zimbabwe and many other African states. 

Uganda is certainly at the point where Kenya was during the Moi regime when state machinery and agencies were used efficiently to propagate the philosophical ideologies of the incumbent, a vice which ensured that elections were ‘won’. But for the end-of-an-era event to be witnessed in Uganda, it is for the citizenry to make it so. It is true that Museveni brought stability to Uganda after periods that were marred with coup d’√©tats and very poor governance and  the notoriety of Idi Amin Dada but methinks economic transformation cannot take place with him. During the electioneering period he issued a manifesto and you wonder what he’s gonna do different from the three decades to engender socio-economic and political prosperity.

The habit of some African leaders being at the helm for so long remains a matter to be discussed for another day; what exactly should be Africa’s brand of political leadership? Is it democracy or controlled democracy? Many may argue that Singapore, Malaysia and others engineered prosperity based on the latter model but should that be the standard? I do not want to pre-empt this treatise but in my next write-up I’ll try to figure out about this. Anyway, all the best to Ugandans as they begin another political chapter under Museveni’s oligarchy.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Exploring The Fundamentals Of Leadership



One isn’t supposed to be reminded that this is 2016. I am not merely stating this as a matter of commonality but as a reflection on how convincingly many people promised to zealously pursue their New Year resolutions. As an individual, I no longer fancy the hype that comes with the New Year in terms of the goals or the things that we need to accomplish but rather, I normally seek to be a better person as compared to the past year(s). Basing on this, each year I always look forward to continue amassing a lot of knowledge and information by perusing hundreds and thousands of pages of books. I do this with a flick of perfection, a touch of wizardry and a high sense of passion for this habit. To me, reading is not like any other activity but it is an event that ignites the faculties to wander about in the quest for soul-searching and above all it triggers the underlying intellectual potency which transmogrify our personality in toto.

This month of February I began reading a very wonderful book known as ‘Good-To-Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap and Others Don’t’ authored by one Jim Collins. I must remark that is one of the greatest reads that lies in my library. Its thematic disposition is generally centred around magnificent leadership versus a leadership that treasures, values and cherishes mediocrity. My intention in this write-up is not to conduct a book review for this immaculate piece and intellectual citadel of transformational leadership but to try and bring out the basics of leadership that have often been overlooked through ignorance and arrogance in the form of assumptions. Superficially, though, reference to Jim Collins’ art and work of intelligentsia might be made.

What comes to an individual’s mind when the word leadership is uttered or mentioned? Most of the individuals if not all will bear thoughts of the structured positions of power and responsibility that exist in the society or community. This is a misstep and a mistake all combined, pooled and woven into one. To me this is not how we are supposed to view leadership. We ought to think about our personal lives and most importantly we should have thoughts and imaginations about the social relationships that we build and forge with other people. In as much as one may present an argument on how social relationships lay the foundation for leadership but mostly we forget leadership vis-√†-vis our private lives and family. 

One of the fundamentals of leadership that is overlooked by those entrusted with positions of responsibility centres around humility. It is a well-known fact that not all who are in positions of leadership are humble. A handful bunch of them often display arrogance of course with no apologies hinged on such behavior. In his description of the ideal leadership that makes organizations leap from being good to being great, Jim Collins talks about the level 5 type of leadership. He spells out that this type of leadership assumes a dualistic nature in the form of personal humility and professional will. Humility is a virtue, difficult and challenging to cultivate and inculcate but more rewarding if it is encrypted in our hearts, our minds and our souls which synergistically engender our different, diverse and dynamic personalities. I usually find it quite dumbfounding and negatively amazing on just how the level of madness and inebriation that individuals acquire just because of power and authority. It is because of the unwillingness to be humble that as individuals we hardly relate with people in a sober manner. We are often on a collision path.

Another leadership fundamental that is assumed more often is the aspect of small details. Small details are usually ignored with the pretext that bigger things will initiate and accelerate the change that we envision and hasten the achievement of the desired results. This is absolutely WRONG. Why is it wrong? It is simply because bigger details don’t imply the ability to draft and craft the ‘bigger picture’ perspective. The ‘bigger picture’ perspective simply relates to strategic thinking which embraces the two important poles of foresight and forethought. Leadership is a mission that calls for the captain to have this perspective intrinsically embedded in his/her personality. This perspective can never be a reality if the smaller details are ignored. Obtaining the ‘bigger picture’ mentality will only be possible if much seriousness will be accorded and more than special attention paid to the small details.

Most importantly, for the art of leadership to be executed with a great sense and flair of perfectionism, attention needs to be paid to the reality of the situation. This is what my leadership teacher Jim Collins refers to as confronting the brutal facts. He gives a detailed account on how people entrusted with leadership should be able to face the reality of the matter. If the problem or rather the challenge is about fact A, then why assume fact A and jump on to activity B? This can clearly be equated to an ostrich burying its head in the sand in the wake of danger with the fantasy that the impending danger will go away. This is indeed an ideal definition of oneirism. Naturally, nearly all human beings will always find a way of dodging the hard truth. Most leaders have failed, are failing and will continue to do so just because they remain adamant in confronting the issues that make success to be delusional. It is a fact that paragons of leadership will always talk about.

We also need not forget about the mentality of creating and making mountains out of molehills. This is a mentality showcased by leaders who have been overshadowed by inferiority complex. I am one individual who abhors such kind of mindset. I am pretty sure that in our lives we have encountered such persons who make small tasks to appear as if they are gargantuan duties comparable to hacking a dinosaur to death using the simplest, most ineffective primitive tools of hunting. It might work, yes, but it may not work fairer. You may come across leaders who complicate simple things by making them seem complex matters which causes a lot of derailment for the entire team. This a fundamental which needs to be observed with the highest level of seriousness. Such leaders who tend to make mountains out of molehills have some sort of personality disorder and psychosocial distortions in that they come out as having narcissist personalities and being nagging individuals, always complaining about almost everything. If for heaven sake you are in a position of leadership and responsibility, it’s very important that you assume the appearance of being cool, calm and collected however tumultuous the situation may be.

The final leadership fundamental that should be more of a commandment is the knack ability of putting first things first. This calls for focus on letting the main thing be the main thing. Most leaders often fail to propel their entities to success because they decide to pursue a number of issues which are important but less relevant and urgent. Mastering the art of tackling matters that matter most guarantees progress which Jim Collins refers to as the fly-wheel. In conclusion, leadership is not meant for everyone but if we strive for it, we are sure to lead better lives as individuals and even have better relationships, marriages and workplaces.