BY ALEX TAREMWA
When I recently attended the Uganda Christian University guild presidential debate, I was left with a number of nagging questions. The most pertinent was: Is being a guild official the precursor of one’s future leadership career or is it merely a political launch pad?
The debate was one of the most rowdy I have ever attended, and although I will not delve much into the good, the bad and the ugly of that night here. Suffice to say that the scene was symptomatic of politicians’ not leaders’ behaviour.
The guild is the students’ connection with the administration, not a group of henchmen ‘pulling ropes’ with the people with whom they should be seeking common ground. Unfortunately, most of the previous guild regimes across universities in Uganda have tended to create more politicians than leaders.
It is for this reason that stories of embezzlement, bribery, and poor accountability are rife. Where a leader sees people, the politician sees votes.
Where the leader sees a challenge, the politician sees an opportunity to cheat. In simpler terms, a politician’s main concern is to acquire power and having done so, to manipulate this power to his or her advantage.
A leader, however, is more concerned about providing the resources and opportunities to those he or she is serving.
A leader works to empower the constituents irrespective of class, race, sex, age, wealth or affiliations. Leaders give an ear to the unheard and provide a platform for the voiceless. Unlike power- obsessed politicians, leaders are more interested in serving the people while ensuring that they grow and transform emotionally, i n t e l l e c t u a l l y , financially and socially. Leaders make a difference in the lives of the people.
After their term of office expires, the electorate should be better off than they found them. This is why they have manifestos. Manifestos are plans of actions for the electorate, not well intended declarations that will come to naught. It is this lack of leadership that has doomed Africa’s and particularly Uganda’s future because the breeding grounds for future leaders (student guilds) are not any better.
They too are tribalistic, power- hungry maniacs who will do anything to get to power. If someone is corrupt at the micro-leadership level, how do we expect them to act when they get to the big stage? If they are willing to play dirty in the guild elections, how will they play nice when they are running for a parliamentary position in their constituency? To the electorate, as you go out to vote for guild officials and parliamentary representatives, be more than a pawn on a chessboard, used simply to advance someone’s political agenda. Do not become casualties!
According to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, one of Brazil’s most revolutionary presidents, leadership is not a profession but a responsibility.
Therefore, if any of the people offering themselves are not ready to shoulder people’s challenges, they should stay away from leadership.