OVER just two weeks in office as Head of State, the Head of Government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United Republic of Tanzania, President Samia Suluhu Hassan is already and steadily charging ahead.
No time to waste. In my view, she is unstoppable. Her disposition, inclination and routes are crystal clear. She began her term by calling fellow leaders to join her as she redefines leadership. Her demand is non-negotiable. She simply wants excellence in leadership. Nothing else. For her servant leadership is a fixed value.
This is true to the principal, deputy secretaries and head of key. On this I do not see her bending for she is not only strong, but knows very well that a leader’s character is important in guiding and implementing ideas of government for the benefit of the people of Tanzania.
And moral responsibility, said Australian Ethicist Will Barret, assumes a capacity for making rational decisions, which in turn justifies holding moral agents accountable for their actions.
And accountability in this sense is, to borrow the words of ethics activist Geoff Hunt, the readiness or preparedness to give an explanation or justification to relevant others (stakeholders) for one’s judgments, intentions, acts and omissions when appropriately called upon to do so.
President Samia has accountability and responsibility at the core of her leadership. So, her call for civil servants and public employees to adhere to ethical behaviour and high discipline is a promising move towards national prosperity. Her clear concern at the poor values leaders express as a people and a leadership crisis is a great and promising pathway to our progress.
For Madame President to clearly affirm that her journey is one other than developing a national ethos is rather unique. Promisingly, for her servant leaders, civic practices of citizenship, and Tanzanians’ care and consideration of one another should begin by accepting the desperate need for these values. She wants all leaders she appoints to understand her position.
And in her recent speech at Chamwino State House, she reminded all that the journey her team must undertake should not be in pieces but rather together so as to build a united and prosperous Tanzania. This is good news for our nation. Interestingly, since she took over, and in almost all her speeches, she has focused on her polite calls for leaders, as highlighted earlier, to take responsibility.
Taking this warning beyond, one could easily note that she is also, in my view, expecting accountability to show that leaders in executive positions are serious. Put it simply and the way I see it, she does not expect and will not accommodate repeated disappointments. But what makes excellence in leadership such a key concern for Madam President?
Does it mean that in Tanzania this is the only serious problem we face as she begins her leadership? I do not think so. But in my view and I stand to be corrected, Hon Samia knows very well that leadership is vital to the success of our ongoing reform. Her experience is clear. She has seen it all.
Regrettably, for a long time in many countries on the continent’s history, nations have had and continue to experience a serious leadership crisis. She knows that instead of leading, most leaders have divided citizens and created a climate which is poisonous and costing faithful citizens.
She wishes that fellow leaders within the country understand that leadership crisis is the widespread problem. Well, she knows and her government has a record of leadership challenges in the local community, religious organisations and politics. She is fully aware that across these institutions, her people are, by and large, feeling let down. For Samia this is not as it should be.
Tanzania has the potential for greatness. This is about sustaining the great vision they started with her predecessor the late Dr John Joseph Pombe Magufuli. Leadership was central. They knew that Tanzanians, both young and old, are yearning for a new Tanzania, Tanzania that is free from a leadership that does not have its wananchi interests and well-being at heart.
President Samia has hope that the journey is and will continue to be smooth, she does not want to see her appointees enslave her people, or leaders who will not represent wananchi interests but who want to ruin our nation. President Samia wants leaders who are able to look at the bigger picture and give up their individual interests for the interest of Tanzania.
For President Samia if Tanzanians are able to taste intellectual leadership championing critical development issues, they would appreciate and honour excellence in leadership. The use of the word well- timed in our title is intentional. Yes, deliberate for two main reasons.
First it is all to do with where, like her predecessor, she would like to see Tanzania heading to a flourishing country. Secondly, with her extensive knowledge on what is happening in the world, mind you she is the one who travelled internationally and extensively to represent the late Magufuli on various platforms.
So, she saw and witnessed the challenges African countries are facing when it comes to leadership. For example, she knows where and how weak, unimaginative and visionless leadership has failed to spearhead economic recovery, corrupt and greedy national leaders who have modified national economic resources something with far-reaching economic consequences.
She is therefore firm and immovable because beyond general leadership failure commonly known, she would not want to see leadership which, as it is in some places on the continent, have tended to be tribally or regionally biased instead of being nationally inclusive, resulting in civil wars and civil unrest. Thus, she draws a crystal clear conclusion.
That is, the need to redefine leadership, a leadership which does not only benefit members of the leaders’ group but seeks to address the needs of wananchi. It is therefore important for all leaders present and those she appoints, and wananchi to support her. Her redefinition of leadership will help each Tanzanian to be able to embrace our enormous potential.
This is only possible when we are ready to collectively glimpse a Tanzania of ideals and excellence, now and in the future. As to how leaders can best help Mama Samia Suluhu Hassan I think the best way would be for all to opt for collective sacrifices and efforts, values that are needed to build our future day by day until Madam President completes her term and plans for the future blossom out. Cheers!
● Dr Alfred Sebahene, PhD Social Ethics Specialist and Anti-Corruption Consultant St John’s University of Tanzania PO Box 47 Dodoma, Tanzania Email Addresses: arsebahene2@ yahoo.co.uk, email@example.com Mobile: +255 767 233 997