10 May 2011 editorial - allafrica news President Jakaya Kikwete's telling off of Cabinet ministers and other senior government officials over their increasing tendency to engage in public disagreements was long overdue. Indeed, this is a spectacle that negates the generally held view of the collective responsibility of leadership.When leaders appear to be pulling in different directions in public, they send confusing signals to the people, who expect guidance from them. This is a sign of unstable government or a case of a divided house that cannot stand. The President is quite right that this sorry situation is bound to cost the government dearly in terms of image and effectiveness. Even in the family, the image of spouses shouting insults against each other or quarreling in front of their children is bound lower their integrity in the eyes of the young ones. The acceptable place for ministers to clash is in Cabinet meetings, as they engage in discussions, seeking consensus on policy issues. But in public, they should portray unity. If one is genuinely and strongly convinced he can't agree with colleagues, one should step aside instead hanging on to rock the boat from within. However, the situation can be even trickier in governments of national unity, as is the case in Zanzibar. Thanks to the recent Isles constitutional amendment, the President is from CCM, but one of his two vice-presidents and some ministers belong to the opposition CUF. Since the two political parties have varying ideologies, ministers must be extra careful and sort out their differences in camera before coming out in the open with a firm policy stand. As the Zimbabwe and Kenya examples have shown, the unity government system is quite demanding. Clashes between the leaders have been so common that concern over the future of such a political marriage persists. In our case, matters affecting the Union Government must be soberly tackled in the Cabinet. But once a stand is taken, all the ministers must quietly toe the line or publicly defend those positions.To enhance national unity and maintain peace and tranquility those in leadership cannot afford to send out conflicting messages on key issues.