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We need ethical leaders to take the country to facilitate development for all emaSwati.

Before I delve on the topic for today, I would like to pass my gratitude to the Oncology department of Health in Mbabane and the Oncology facility based in the former TB Hospital in Manzini, for the excellent service rendered to my relative, who was battling cancer on his face but unfortunately succumbed to it two weeks ago. From the time we approached both facilities, we were treated with empathy and professionalism. We were guided well from the diagnosis process until he commenced treatment in Manzini.

The staff, in both facilities, treat patients struggling with terminal illness humanely and with empathy. We are grateful to the Manzini staff who demonstrated their professionalism.  We appreciated the excellent level of organisation and order in the facility. Even though the wound was really being stench, the nurses patiently cleaned it, which was appreciated by the patient and the family. May you continue to serve emaSwati in distress!We all are aware that our country has been grappling with development challenges for many years. These problems have continued to be a source of concern for emaSwati, especially the vulnerable in society, as all emaSwati desire for   a better life.  The reality, however, is that many are struggling to survive the economic hardships.   

What are the facts?

According to the Integrated Labour Force Surveys, labour force participation among the working-age population fell from 50.6 per cent in 2016 to 45.9 per cent in 2021. Without sufficient formal job creation, employment is concentrated in low value-added activities, such as subsistence agriculture, and low-quality jobs 40.8 per cent of employed people are in the informal sector. Unemployment is high and rising, having increased from 23 per cent in 2016 to 33.3 per cent in 2021, the highest rate in over a decade. It is even higher among young people, with those between 15 and 24 years facing an unemployment rate of 59.1 per cent in 2021. Quality problems in education mean that young people lack the right skills to participate in the labour market. This undermines Eswatini’s potential to benefit from its large, young population.

Inequality in consumption per capita and access to public services remains high. Eswatini is among the most unequal countries in the world, with a Gini index of 54.6 in 2016. Disparities in access to basic public services across income groups and geographic locations persist, although access is being expanded. Factors beyond the control of individuals, including early education, parental education, place of birth, and place of residence explained 38.5 per cent of consumption inequality in 2017. While growth is expected to continue to grow at 4.1 per cent in 2024, global turmoil and a slowdown in the economy of the major trading partner, i.e., South Africa, is likely to dampen economic activity.

Need for ethical leadership

I would like us to think aloud about why we need ethical leaders to help our country to navigate these challenges. Dr Radhika Kapur states, in his paper, that ethical leaders tend to do better in leading society.  The author, suggest that ethical leaders enable people to do the right thing. An ethical leader is a person living up to the principles of conduct that are crucial for him to serve others. To be an ethical leader, one needs to observe a more universal standard of moral behaviour. One should be aware of what is appropriate and what is inappropriate mode of conduct. Ethical leadership sets an example for followers and others about the righteousness or injustice of particular actions.

What are characteristics of ethical leaders?

They respect and serve others.  This entail that our leaders should not be motivated by power, money and fame, but about serve others.  Let us also note that leaders are not just those in government but cut across all sectors of society including the private sector, communities, non-profit organisations, trade union movement, the media, political parties to mention a few.  With the challenges facing our nation we need leaders who will respect others especially those who are in the fringes of society including the poor, the marginalised, disabled to mention a few. These need to be consulted and their views must be heard.  

Another critical characteristic of ethical leaders is that they are just. These leaders are about equality, fairness and justice. With the daunting challenges facing our country, we require leaders that will foster equality.  According to the World Bank, Eswatini remains among the top 15 percent of the world’s most unequal countries. The leaders particularly in government should ensure that the country has a strong social protection programmes, directed to support those who are left behind.  We also need our leaders to be honest, which entails transparency and accountability. Corruption has reached endemic levels and we need Gods intervention. We need the Church to double its effort in moral regeneration.  

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