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Perspectives

traditional rulers, the clergy, top political leaders etc. The elites have clearer understanding of the issues that are topical to governance. They have the capacity to analyze, to dissect, to interrogate the happenings around them and intelligently weigh issues upon which they base their judgment. Among the elites, we have the critical minority. They are radical clergymen, Intellectuals, Lawyers; Human rights activists etc who use the media to promote their sanctimonious and puritan pontifications. The elites are few but their influence on the polity is immense. The politicians are not lost to this fact and respond by crafting their programmes and messages to meet the demands of the elite. The masses are the real custodians of political power. They constitute about eighty percent of the voting public. Among the masses, we have a web of leadership and followership. For instance, the traditional institutions as power bloc in the state rely on powers embedded in cultural norms to exercise influence over semiautonomous groups and associations within its purview. This applies also to Religious institutions. In the socioeconomic sphere, there are countless groups some of which are politically active such market unions, transport unions, union of skilled and semi-skilled artisans, social clubs etc. The leaders of these groups are followers in other spheres of life. Thus, leader-followership network is complex and subtle as there seems to be no sharp distinction between the two. Hence leadership is as diverse as ethnic, religious, family, occupational or political groupings in the society. The way the leaders play their brokerage role; clarifying issues as via media between the elites and membership of the various groups, go a long way to define the dynamism of power in the polity. During elections, it is common to hear someone say to his neighbour 'in our union, we have decided to vote for this or that candidate'. Semi-autonomous groups are formidable catalytic agents in the politics of the state and have remained a potential force for economic development. Problem of the Masses The masses provide the verve and motion in the polity, but certainly not in control of the political process. They represent the missing link of power in the state. The elites are more visible and vocal and tend to give the cue. That is because the tone and temperament of politics is dictated by those who have clear sense of direction such as the tripartite coalition of the traditional and religious institutions, and political king makers. While the politicians claim to be motivated by the need to protect 17

The Empowerment Post

and promote the interest of the masses, the masses or the common man cannot articulate what its interest are and work towards its achievement. The attitude and electoral behavior of the common man must change if the attraction of democracy will continue to hold sway. The negative attitude of the masses is the single most important reason why politics has remained sterile and frustrating. If the followers play positive role by refusing to be used to distort, clog and compromise democratic process, either as electoral officials or voters, democratic dividends will sooner than later be visible in concrete terms. Unfortunately, the money-centric culture places premium on cash, not brightness of your ideas. They allow themselves to be bought over so cheaply. Some disgustingly hock their vote around: 'If you want my vote, give me cash. I do not care what you afterwards'. Furthermore, they put pressures on elected officials, who must meet one financial demand or the other on daily basis, not minding the source of the money. The more cash the politicians throws around, the more his sycophantic followership swells. Since the electorate or followers are not committed to ideas and ideals, they are vulnerable to mercurial shifts and unreliable allies. Apart from corruptive tendencies, the masses lack the capacity for clear understanding of issues. It is easy to see the negative effect of poor political education. It has long been postulated that for democracy to function effectively, citizens must be intelligent, knowledgeable and rational. The absence of this makes it easy for the people to be manipulated by men skilled in the use of words. Apparently, due to the inability of the masses to think critically and weigh issues from all sides, they thrive on assumptions, rumours, perceptions and speculations instead of facts. They are easily emotionally roused by politicians who mastered the act of interpreting their dreams and wishes. In no time, they become praise singers of men in authority, giving them all sort of glamorous street titles. There is no doubt that there is a carryover of the reverence and obsequiousness accorded Kings in the traditional society to public servants. In the traditional setting, it was customary to praise, hail and honor the King for doing any good deeds out of compassion and benevolence. This practice is completely alien to democracy. The masses must be weaned of this mentality. The people must be sensitized on the responsibility of government and the corresponding duty of the governed. When a government has been voted to power, the most important duty of the people is to hold leaders to account. The masses must demand more from them, must constantly he June 2013


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