Former President of Malawi, Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda has said that the most pressing need of society today is good moral leadership.
According her, the general public no longer has faith in their leaders. “This is because leaders who occupy political positions use their political offices and positions to plunder the wealth of their countries for their personal self-enrichment rather than using national resources to promote the well being of their people, they”, she said.
It is for this reason that she has called for a new kind of leadership in Africa, the one that Prof. Mills exhibited. “Moral and servant leadership is what Africa needs and Prof. Mills represents and embodiment of such type of leadership”, Madam Banda said.
Dr. Banda spoke on the topic: Leadership Redefined; Moral and Ethical Leadership, A Must; The Case of President John Evans Atta Mills-The Servant Leader at a Commemorative lecture in honour of the late President of Ghana at the University of Cape Coast. She described leadership as an emotional phenomenon founded and built on mutuality, common good and shared vision between the leader and the people. She said leaders appealed to the people they lead and the people appealed to the emotions of the leader. “Leadership is a love affair. You fall in love with the people you serve and the people fall in love with you”.
Explaining further, Dr. Banda intimated that leadership hinged on the principle and realisation that power and authority were exercised at the pleasure of those that put them in position of authority. Again, Madam Banda reminded leaders that they were occupying positions because people put them there so that they could serve them. Therefore, as leaders they must have integrity and strength of character to put the needs and concerns of others ahead of their own. “The welfare of the people that gave you the mandate to exercise power over them prevails and becomes your guiding principles and driving force”, she added.
The former Malawian president urged leaders to be selfless in their desire to ensure the success of others, fearless in their zeal to protect the dignity of others, and relentless in their defense of the rights of the people. Espousing on the current evolution of leadership globally, Dr. Banda said “globally leadership is being redefined with a shift of power from the top to the masses”. “We are witnessing shifting of power from monarchies to presidents; from dictators to Democrats; from rulers to leaders. We are all witnessing power shifts from “me” to “us”. Yes the world bears witness as power shifts from leaders to masses as demonstrated during the Arab spring”.
She said the shifting of power from leaders to masses cannot be ignored since it signalled the coming of new world order in terms of leadership and people power and described it as a paradigm shift that called for necessary changes in leadership. “As leaders the earlier we accept this reality the better, lest we risk being left behind or face the full blunt of the people’s power. As leaders, the earlier we realise and fully accept that the days of authoritative leadership are long gone, the better”, she admonished.
On the canker of political corruption in Africa, Mrs. Banda indicated that it was as a result of the failure to embrace the principles and tenets of moral and servant leadership and has remained one huge impediment to socio-economic development on the continent.
Mrs. Banda said instead of being part of the solution, African leaders have become enablers of corruption, fraud and all sorts of vices. “They have become part of the problem for communities and not a solution to the many problems communities are grappling with especially corruption, abuse of human rights and tribalism or ethnicity”, she lamented.
Speaking on the virtues of the President, Madam Banda said President Mills lived a humble life of the community; he lived a life of love. He was also not only the son of Ghana, he was a citizen of the world who gave his life to the development of education as demonstrated by his contribution to academia all over the world. His contribution to intellectual development was remarkable”.
“The life of President Atta Mills was the embodiment of dedication to public service and to the people of Ghana”.