Kenya needs liberation from false political gladiators

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019 00:00 |
John F Kennedy. Photo/Courtesy

Riziki Dunstan   

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather what you can do for your country,” says John F. Kennedy. That iconic statement by the 35th US president has indeed become the global call to patriotism. 

This exhortation could serve as the thesis of a contractual relationship between the state and the citizen where the citizenry contributes their quota to a nation’s development so that the nation can be greater in the comity.

In return, the nation provides the necessities that make life worth its while. Contrary to this, the Kenyan citizens ooze with greater expectation of their “tomorrow” whereas the political leadership works hard to suffocate it.

Tomorrow is like the expectant mother who does not know what her offspring would grow into—a responsible citizen or a delinquent. Could that be why many people are afraid of tomorrow?

Sadly, our political leaders have become the only souls that determine our “tomorrow” they have forgotten their pledges to the voters and have now set in the tempo for a plebiscite. 

Indeed, the trouble with Kenya is leadership; a leadership that is centred on personal aggrandizement, greed and hypocrisy.

 Political leaders think about the next election and how they will cajole the already “anaemic masses”. Discussions are now focused on the referendum.

But for whose good? Why the Constitution without constitutionalism? Amendments to the Constitution to suit egos are not a panacea for Kenya’s problems. 

The political logjam and other retrogressive activities couched as elections, scandals and the selfish push for referenda among other things, which are all traceable to the obsessive tendencies have impeded our march to economic and democratic liberty.

There’s dire need of political hygiene to disinfect governance polity. We have habituated selective amnesia and now want an expanded Executive to further burden the taxpayer.

 Before 2002 Kenya did not witness the political desperation. The return of democracy in 2002 came with politics of desperation and win-at-all-costs. Politicians found a new friend in violence and brigandage.

They no longer believe in the power of the ballot or the will of the majority: Elections “must be won”, without minding whose ox is gored. Currently, politics is seen as a moneymaking business with some ready to do anything to win elections.

The debate on the need to amend the Constitution speaks volume about greed amongst political gladiators. It is an exercise in futility to expect tangible output from the process.

Opulence and splendour

What JF Kennedy’s statement did not quite explain is: what happens when the citizen has given his best and his nation still fails him in fulfilling its own part of the contractual obligation?

When the unemployment index is at an all-time high? When the economy is not growing in proportion to poverty rates? When there are socio-political upheavals? 

Celebrated novelist Chinua Achebe seems to an answer to these questions above: reject any honour by a nation that fails to live up to the expectations of the citizenry.

As the referendum debate gains momentum, a new crop of Pharisees and Sadducees has emerged. We have rich arable land yet there is little food to go round.

While many industries have either closed down or relocated, new ones cannot spring up because our policies do not favour foreign direct investment. While the majority wallows in abject poverty, the minority go about in opulence and splendour.

It’s not a crime to be rich. What I am striving at is to paint a lucid picture of the injustices that pervade our land. I have no grudges against those who have worked hard to earn their wealth. My grouse is about those who did not work hard to be where they are today.

The level of despondency has reached a precarious stage and something needs to be done urgently to bring succour to the agonizing spirits of many Kenyan who live in dejection and penury.

We should shun divisiveness, greed, corruption, and electoral fraud, it is the duty of the masses to stop this, but it can only be achieved if the citizenry vote for those who have the capacity to represent them qualitatively. —The Writer is a lawyer and governance consultant.

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