Sunday, 28 December 2003

The indulgence of incumbency

What is not a right
First of all, references are alluded to without prejudice.
Leadership confers on leaders to the opportunity guide, direct, instruct, advice and represent the people represented or being lead.
Leadership can come by heredity as in monarchies, by conquest or usurpation usually exemplified in coups, by conferment through democratic channels or even inexplicable circumstance - to broad an issue to discuss in detail.
However, understanding the function of leadership an how to exercise it justly is an aspect of knowledge, wisdom and prudence that escapes many leaders who in turn create self-serving and self-propagating structures to maintain their status without due regard for the people they lead.
Leadership is not a right, even if you are the incumbent.
One illustrates a number of instances of abuse of process and equity in maintaining a status of leadership.
African and Ex-Soviet Republic Leaders - Dictators to you and me
One particular trait one has observed is the tendency for elected leaders elected on a constitutional term of a number of years for a fixed length of time, manipulating the legislative process to modify the term duration and creating a "till death do us part" leadership pact very similar to a monarchy.
Examples of where this kind of leadership has benefited the people at large are exceptions rather than the rule - Azerbaijan.
Rather, these docile democratic fig-leaves metamorphosed into despotic tyrants, dictators, plundering their countries natural resources, polarising ethnic and religious differences for their own ends and suppressing every kind of dissent and illegally siphoning stolen moneys to foreign accounts.
American Gerrymandering - An electoral fraud long before elections
One horrible aspect of American democracy is the ability of legislature to redraw constituency boundaries to favour either party in power.
If the constituency boundaries were reconstructed to reasonable shapes and demographic factors, the process would have been above board.
Unlike the scrutiny foreign elections get subjected to during the polling and counting process. Gerrymandering or redistricting happens between elections, sanctioned by incumbent politicians stealing the vote long before it is cast.
Corporate Governance
The last two decades has seen the rise and fall of the cult of the CEO - IBM's Watson, GE's Welch, Chrysler's Iacocca, Enron's Lay, the list is almost endless. However, another interesting drift to this is exemplified in Disney.
A Michael Eisner has been the head of Disney since 1984 and is credited with turning Disney into a major Fortune 500 company.
When he first started losing lieutenants, we almost always concurred that they were impatient in waiting for the prize. These lieutenants have moved on to greater things.
However, Mr Eisner seems to have the knack for losing these helpers, it is no more careless but catastrophic. In one week, two senior executives including a nephew of Walt Disney resigned and called for Eisner's resignation.
The danger is Mr Eisner might just have run out of Disney magic dust.
Unchallenged Incumbency would end eventually
Incumbency when ingratiated takes away the challenge of competing forces that compel the incumbents to perform and owe proper and due allegiance to the framework that placed them in that position of leadership.
The many examples of incumbency stifling innovation, resistant to change and reform exist in all aspects of human endeavour. It offers a negative but effective resistance to irrelevance by cutting off any objective assessment of its existence.
However, history shows that all sorts of incumbency have a shelf life due to expire at the behest of circumstance or a natural course of events.

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