LEADERS are called to serve and not to behave like parasites that suck the blood of their hosts with little regard of the future. But it would appear that our politicians have, in the recent past, become parasitic, neglecting the call of service and concentrating more on the feeding trough that position and privilege has afforded them.
The call of office has now become an opportunity to jump onto the gravy train where they feed on the overburdened taxpayers who can ill-afford basic meals or mere access to health care services.
Our leaders have been living in the lap of luxury without compunction, while they are surrounded by a sea of poverty in which the majority of citizens are drowning. While ordinary people are struggling daily to feed their families, raise money for school fees and pay hospital bills, those in power are demanding free access to top-of-the-range SUV vehicles, expensive hotel accommodation and comfortable air travel, even to meetings that do not add any value to the country’s fiscus.
This was the shameful war cry by Members of Parliament at a pre-budget seminar held in Bulawayo recently, where they demanded cars from Treasury, saying it was a basic tool of their trade, yet they managed to campaign and get elected without those cars into Parliament. Midlands councillors made similar demands during their recent meeting with Local Government minister July Moyo in Gweru.What has happened to servant leadership?
For a nation that is struggling to access foreign currency to buy medication, a nation failing to provide bread and now fleecing its citizens through a 2% electronic transfer charge for every transaction above $10, MPs and any other elected public official should be ashamed of themselves if they are driven by the motive of self-enrichment.
They should follow the footsteps of Gweru mayor Josiah Makombe who rejected a $150 000 Mercedes Benz, which was going to be funded by the long-suffering ratepayers of the city.
Makombe put the call to service ahead of his personal needs, where others would have justified that the vehicle was necessary for his office and put dignity to the city, he rightly saw it as a waste of resources and insult to ratepayers.
He becomes the second mayor after former Kwekwe mayor Matenda Madzoke who refused to take delivery of a new car from a local authority struggling to collect refuse or deliver basic service to its rate payers. Madzoke instead chose to cycle to work and walked out of office without claiming a golden handshake, saying he was more concerned with service delivery than self-enrichment. This is a culture that needs to be entrenched in our politics.
The nation needs more selfless leaders who understand that positions of authority are not for self-aggrandisement, but they are tools, which if used correctly, will empower the community. Harare City councillors made news when they demanded that they be given iPads so that they can effectively serve their communities when more than half of them probably don’t even know how to switch the same gadgets on.
Greed by our leaders has come in shocking proportions. They demand high allowances when they travel on business. They abuse tender procedures so that they can feed their pot bellies at the expense of the people they promised to serve. This greed has fuelled the shockingly high levels of corruption in this country. They loot public coffers with impunity and defend such profanity with a straight face. This should stop! We applaud those selfless leaders who have stood in the gap and said people come first, and that service is better than selfishness.