In Summary
  • One way to get the right calibre of leaders might be simply by making elective offices voluntary assignments rather than salaried employment.

  • From there will emerge leaders who really want to give freely of their time and skills rather than exploiting public office to amass billions in looted wealth.

Let’s abolish the presidency. Seriously, if most of our conflicts revolve around competition for that high seat of power, removing the source of problems is the most logical thing to do.

That might sound foolish but here’s a question posed on this forum before: Quick, without asking Google, who is the President of Switzerland?

I can bet most of my readers in Kenya have no answer to that question. Actually, the majority of people across the world have no clue who rules Switzerland. That’s because the tiny European country which runs like clockwork (and has a reputation for making great watches), and generates humungous wealth, has no ‘ruler’.

VOLUNTARY

But Switzerland does have a president: Ueli Maurer, elected at the beginning of this year.

However, the president is really more of a first among equals, being part of a seven- member Federal Council, which shares executive power. Each Councillor heads one of the seven federal executive departments, equivalent of Cabinet offices, while the Federal Presidency rotates between the seven, each serving for just one year before passing on the baton.

The beauty of the collegial presidency is that the office is not a matter of life and death. It is a not a place one will covet as a means to grabbing wealth and enjoying the exercise of power. It is not an office one will fight to the death to retain for fear that exit will mean loss of power, privilege and immunities.

In Kenya right now, we are talking about expanding the executive under the false notion that creating many seats of power will be the cure for the exclusion that is often at the heart of our political conflicts.

We can create any number of prime ministers, deputy prime ministers, deputy assistant presidents and so on but that will not solve our problems. We will be introducing offices to satisfy the greed of those who want to join the ‘eating’ binge rather than creating space for those who want to serve.

If we must expand the executive, then let us do it in the Swiss style by establishing a collegial presidency composed of those who approach leadership as a call to service rather than an opportunity to ‘eat’.

One way to get the right calibre of leaders might be simply by making elective offices voluntary assignments rather than salaried employment. From there will emerge leaders who really want to give freely of their time and skills rather than exploiting public office to amass billions in looted wealth.

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