Leaders must listen to criticism – Mwenye
Former Attorney General Musa Mwenye says it is important for leaders to listen to criticism no matter what format it is dispensed.
In a statement shared on his Facebook page, Wednesday, Mwenye observed that a good leader was expected to act in national interest even if doing so would bruise their ego.
Menye recalled how he publicly criticized late president Michael Sata for appointing someone who had been convicted of corruption as permanent secretary and how the former Head of State handled the public rebuke.
“Since the reintroduction of multiparty politics, we Zambians have at times been outspoken about issues that concern us. With the advent of social media, our conversations on national issues have become even louder. This, in my view is healthy for our democracy and must not only be embraced by all of us, but must also be encouraged. We must of course graduate our national conversation from the insults that we sometimes see online, to a decent, but sometimes brutally frank discussion. Leaders should never be afraid of criticism. They should embrace it and use it to improve delivery to the people they lead. Although I have had several instances in which I have criticized leaders, one incidence stands out,” Mwenye stated.
“On the the 15th of October, 2011, President Sata, MHSRIP, appointed me Solicitor General. I was at the time Law Association of Zambia President. After consultations with some leading members of LAZ, I accepted the appointment but I still had reservations on whether to actually take up the appointment. Soon after I received my letter, but before I was sworn into office, it was rumored that President Sata had appointed someone who had previously been convicted of corruption, as a Permanent Secretary. Clearly, if the reports were true, the appointment was misguided in principle, because a person who has breached public trust must not be appointed to be controlling officer of public money. As LAZ president I issued a scathing statement that attacked this decision and questioned the Presidents judgment in this regard. This very public rebuke of the man who had just given me my letter of appointment, was front page news. President Sata, reversed his decision quietly, never answered my very public criticism and went on to swear me in as his Solicitor General on the 29th of December, 2011. In all the time I worked with him, he never referred to my very public criticism of him. He gained my respect and I took up my appointment because of this act of leadership on his part.”
Mwenye advised leaders to always listen to advice because that was a strength.
“Proverbs 11:14 says, ‘where there is no guidance, a people falls but in the abundance of counselors, there is safety’. As leaders at all levels, whether ruling party, opposition party, traditional, community or corporate leaders, it is important to listen to criticism no matter how that criticism is dispensed. It may come in a respectful private manner and sometimes it may be offered in an undiplomatic public form. Whichever way, listening to advice is a great virtue for leadership, especially of a nation; and where circumstances require action, a good leader must act in national interest even if doing so may bruise their self esteem. To listen to advice and criticism is a strength and not a weakness,” stated Mwenye.