Herold Stanley Binda
To lead any organisation requires a multitude of skills, insights and abilities. The complexities of running a country, however, require even more high-level skills, insights and character.
A strong ethical compass can certainly assist in uncompromised leadership, the requirement for the office of president.
Ethics refers to the moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conduct of an activity. Ethical leadership means individuals behave according to a set of principles and values that are recognised by the majority as a sound basis for the common good.
These include integrity, respect, trust, fairness, transparency and honesty. Ethical leadership must be a conscious decision. It thus makes sense that ethical leadership is leading on the premise of ethical principles.
Why is ethical leadership important, and why must we be concerned about ethics and who leads our organisations, private or public, at the highest level?
The allegations of unethical corporate and political leaders have made the headlines in recent years.
While these may be allegations only and no criminality proven, the fact that ministers are in jail, awaiting trial, should raise concerns over whom we plan to select to lead our country.
Even if measured by the most lenient of ethical standards, many of those contesting for high office must be measured against the set standards of ethical conduct.
Any links to any unethical conduct, whether proven or not, should send red flags – and those in the race should not vie for high office.
So, why is this so important?
Well, we are at the point of electing new leadership in the ruling party – and a few years down the line, the country will be electing a new president.
This is not a role for any person who has some kind of unethical cloud hanging around over him/her.
The presidency is a serious role, like any other leadership role, but just a bit more challenging.
If entry into the office of the president of the republic of Namibia comes under a cloud of questions on the ethical conduct of the occupant, then that will be a bad start to such presidency.
It is now the time to make the informed choice of who should lead Namibia.
It is not the time to accept handpicked candidates.
This is a democracy, and while campaigning is in order, the decision of the majority of our people must be respected.
However, such a decision should be based on tangibility.
In the early 1990s, Chis Hani prophetically remarked, “What I fear is that the liberators emerge as elitists who drive around in Mercedes Benzes and use the resources of this country to live in palaces and to gather riches”.
Chris Hani clearly understood the need to inculcate ethical leadership culture in the glories liberation movement of the African National Congress (ANC) that would render the organisation sustainable in the long term.
Consistent with the thoughts of Hani, there is a need for us to have deep conservation about the quality of the cadre required to take this country forward.
Apart from the political record of accomplishment, the candidate should be clear of any unethical conduct or corrupt activity, or abuse of power.
Now more than ever, we need ethical leadership that revolves around public service and bettering the lives of our people – and not just the acquisition of power.
History has taught us that where there is strong ethical leadership in any organization, it becomes easier to effectively regulate the boundaries between right and wrong.
There is a saying that “a people who elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims but accomplices”.
Often, a particular individual polarises us into narrow factionalist fights without questioning the real qualities of leadership on offer. Therefore, we need to be careful the narratives we buy into.
Unquestionably, once you look back on the history of this great nation, it is evident that we have had countless good ethical leadership over the years since the start of the War of National Resistance.
However, in recent years, good ethical leadership is short in supply in all spheres of public life – not just in body politics.
Therefore, the jury is out on what we need to do to attract only the best in leadership, which is a discussion for another day.
What is, however, clear now is our nation deserves a president who can pass the test against even the most lenient of ethical standards.
*Herold Stanley Binda is a holder of Masters in Leadership and Change Management. The views expressed are personal. - firstname.lastname@example.org