I define power to be the possession of controlling influence. This generally is achieved through politics, technology and knowledge and/or economic/military superiority. I always wonder about the men/women who possess this kind of power and how difficulty it is for them to be selfless in the display or use of that power. Here is a case on African democracy that will illustrate the problem.
I come from a community that has to choose a parliamentary representative every five years. In our last election, we noted with pleasure a "new" parliament comprising of a new breed of legislative representatives. We gladly thought that the "old is gone and the new is here". Two and a half years down the road, we find ourselves in the same circle of disgraceful events characterised by corruption and greed to amass personal wealth. I then realised that it is more than just a change of personalities. This has to do with an intrinsic problem deep within our democratic process. I presume that this happens in majority of other African countries.
Think about this. The electrorate expect the representative to mobilise and carry out an exciting campaign that involves the dishing out of favours and money during the election process. I know from some members of parliament,who are my friends, that they had to undertake a considerable "investment" in becoming parliamentary representatives. Where a lucky incubent becomes successful he/she becomes overwhelmed with joy as this is a sure path to "wealth". Those who fail, and especially those who have used their personal wealth in the process, tend to fade away into a life of regret constanly announcing to whoever will care to listen that "politics is bad". Few live to try it again.
Others and especially those in the presidential campaigns spend huge amounts of money in their campaign trails. Some may be lucky as some powerful business people may choose to quietly support their endevours in exchange for a five/four year committment to offer lucrative contracts in a particular field/sector. Support used in this manner can only lead to a situation where "favours are for sale", "scratch-my-back-as-I-scratch-yours" mentality where representation is portrayed as all encompassing but only applies to a select case of interests that must be met inorder to maintain reasonable chances of continued stay in power.The defining strategy is to work with the few who have the will to "put their money where their mouth is" and play games with the rest of the electrorate to portray a persona of genuine concern to address their problems. Many a times the unfortunate electorate falls into this trap. Election period is a time of equivocal allegiance and loyalty, "eating" on the prospectives candidate as we wait to be "eaten" by the successful representative.
Thinking about this situation, I find it naive for the electrorate to demand unselfish leadership from representation elected in this manner. I see Civil Society Organisations putting in a lot of work in demanding positive change. I wonder whether there will be any fruits to bear. The harsh reality is that there is individual/collective "investment" before acquisition of power. This investment has to somehow be paid. The lucky leader who manages to acquire the seat of power will then have to pay his/her dues before anybody else. Religious convictions have not been known to help.
This has been a problem where very few people have been brave enough to try and face this problem. Representation that require "investment" will not suffice. An alternative form of representation or a beat-up of the existing one may address this challenge. The biggest challenge is WHICH ONE?