Exit politicians, enter real leaders, managers

Friday, April 17th, 2020 00:00 |
Parliament. Photo/File

Is politics the bane of this country? One is tempted to respond in the affirmative.

The first social actors to retreat from the public space as soon as coronavirus struck were politicians. 

They quickly suspended both the National Assembly and Senate sittings, then the Tanga Tanga and Kieleweke brigades were deflated as they ran for cover.

It has been a while since BBI hogged the headlines. So politics is not that serious after all.

In their stead, new social actors who are playing a critical role to stop Covid-19 and calm an anxious nation, have emerged.

The difference between politicians and real leaders and managers is now as clear as day and night.

Who knew, for example, that the Ministry of Health could emerge as a confidence inspiring institution? It has been said that the former Nyeri Senator, Mutahi Kagwe, is a dowdy politician.

But he is probably what the doctor ordered for the country during this health crisis.

He has produced may be the best out of the ministry. A ministry previously entangled in scandals now displays people who inspire confidence.

Dr Mercy Mwangangi, the Chief Administrative Secretary, comes across as a solid professional. You wonder where Dr Patrick Amoth, the director of health, has been all along.

Down at the Coast, Governor Hassan Joho has been impressive. Accused of being absent at times, Governor 001, has had all hands on deck this time round.

He has led in mobilising resources, both financial and intellectual, to bring to bear on the crisis at his door step. When necessary, he has not minced his words.

It is increasingly becoming clear that the country can rally around a critical issue when necessary and that the resources, meagre as they may be, are actually there.

Think of the textile firm in Kitui that rose from producing zero facial masks to churning out over 300,000 a day in less than a month. Few even knew that there was a textile firm in Kitui!

Back in Nairobi, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), in the sleepy suburbs of Ngumo, is drawing the attention of the world as its scientists go to work.

Firms and research institutes in nations with the best resources are racing against time to bring hope to the world with their innovations.

Kemri is right in the mix and who knows, it may do better than the more endowed globally.

Betty Maina has been inspiring at the Ministry of Trade and Industrialisation. She has vowed to flood the country with affordable face masks.

But even more inspiring is her rallying of innovators to develop ventilators. If she has her wish, the four innovators will get the funds to develop ventilators that would compete anywhere.

May be this buzz of activity is what we would be having everyday if politicians were to take a back seat.

The environment of forward-thinking and competition on innovative ideas would easily allow thinkers and innovators focused on making our nation better emerge as leaders.

Instead, we have been saddled by ne’er do wells and “nattering nabobs of negativism” whose only vision is the next election. It is no wonder that we have been dancing on the same spot for ages.

Over the years, the world’s press has been focused on what is going wrong in Kenya: ethnic clashes, corruption, and slums.

It is hard to remember the last time international media had positive stories on Kenya back to back. 

It is unfortunate that in the middle of this, some of our journalists are still busy looking for what has gone wrong and where the politicians are hiding.

Our system has conditioned the Fourth Estate to only think of politics and in the negative. If only we could move on!

— The writer is the dean, School of Communications, Daystar University

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