We need action on real issues, not rhetoric

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta receives the BBI report from the taskforce vice chair Adams Oloo at Kisii State Lodge on Wednesday. With them is ODM party leader Raila Odinga. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

Last week marked a turning point in the intriguing but predictable Kenyan political landscape as 2020 hurtled to a dramatic end amid the devastating Covid-19 pandemic.  

As the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) takes centre stage in the run-up to the anticipated referendum mid next year, events are ushering the year to a sunset dimmed by the gloomy apocalypse-like scenario projected by the deadly virus.

Barring any miraculous last-minute intervention, it was almost certain that doctors would yesterday join nurses and clinical officers in the well-publicised strike, precipitating a full-blown public health crisis in the middle of a pandemic.

This is not good news for the ever-suffering citizens and the country’s leadership at both the national and county level.

Something is seriously wrong if we cannot sit down listen to and resolve the perennial but genuine grievances of our front line healthcare workers.

Certainly not when we are going through an unprecedented health crisis in a generation.

The truth is that our country is obsessed with politics and our government is broke, with the economy in the intensive care unit (ICU).

Without being pre-emptive, the boycott of work by our front line workers at this critical moment when the citizens and the nation most needs them is likely to have grave political, economic and social repercussions, unless the issues are resolved once and for all.

Now is not the time for intransigence, threats and ultimatums. Dialogue must prevail to prevent a situation where both the government and the people end up losers.

The first priority of every government is the health of its citizens. That means the state is obliged to ensure that every mwananchi from infants to the elderly have food security and access to adequate health and education services.

A government that cannot fulfil these basic human rights obligations is not worth the name.

The founding fathers of our nation fought for these ideals to win independence from the colonialists and eradicate poverty, ignorance and disease.

It is a crying shame that 57 years after our freedom fighters shed blood to save us from the yoke of oppression and exploitation, we are still grappling with the pain of these same ailments gnawing at the nation’s and people’s health and conscience, with no end in sight.

BBI was initiated to solve the political and electoral impasse that ensues every election cycle and the process appears on course, but it must go beyond that and address urgent issues facing Kenya today – the grim prospects of the pandemic and an ailing economy.

Yet the political class have as usual adopted the art of doublespeak to suit their advantage as we enter yet another election cycle. Succession politics are fuelling the current intense jostling for power and realignments.

Political dynamics have changed and the people are more enlightened and conscious.

The era of political parties relying solely on the wave of populism is waning. The electorate are wiser and tired of rhetoric. 

They are demanding realpolitik - a system of politics or principles based on practical (food security, health, jobs, integrity) rather than fancy moral or ideological considerations. 

As citizens anxiously wait to see how the government deals with the urgent public health crisis and an even deeper economic quagmire, the pulse is ticking towards change post-referendum and the 2022 elections.

We need change from the skewed ethnic balance that has dominated our electoral politics since independence for the sake of national unity in diversity. [email protected]

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