Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Chance of a lifetime.

Kenya faces its greatest challenge in 2013. The last time we were at the rodeo, national institutions were discredited. The Electoral Commission of Kenya screwed up so royally that it took the intervention of the African Union and its Panel of Eminent African Personalities to midwife the birth of whole-scale reforms in our body politic. The political institutions of the day had been ossified by decades of KANU hegemony that not even the most sunniest optimist believed that things could improve. Four years-and-change later, not only do Kenyans have a Constitution that they can be proud of (never mind the perennial sticks-in-the-mud), but political competition is yet to lead to the same level of uncertainty as we had going into the 2007 general election.

We may still harbour doubts about the reforms taking place in various sectors, such as in the security sector or in the organisation of the devolved government, but by and large we trust the politicians to play with a straight bat this time around. Messrs Kenyatta and Ruto are going to remain talking points for their decision to stand for the presidency despite their indictments at the International Criminal Court, but they have professed their innocence and it is now up to a reforming Judiciary to pronounce with finality whether they are fit to stand for the presidency. Despite a few false starts to their campaign, they have sharpened their rhetoric without calling for the heads of those they perceive as their persecutors. This is the essence of a robust democratic process; every one must have their say even when only one may be victorious at the ballot box. For better (we hope) or for ill (perish the thought), the duo will contest, with one or the other being the standard-bearer, and Kenyans shall take the opportunity to either give them a hiding or to elect their ticket to arguably the most coveted seat in Kenya.

Mwai Kibaki, whose first name is Emilio, has represented Othaya Constituency for nigh on four decades, but it is his last decade that he has truly come into his own. His legacy will be a mixed bag: highways as well as rising economic inequity. Kenyans tom-tomming his accomplishments constantly remind us that "Kenya is a rich country" and no one doubts it with ego-boosting discoveries of oil and gas, and the construction of shiny new highways. Vision 2030 has become national mantra: we will rise or fall by its diktats and the Lamu South Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor Project as well as the Silicon Savannah in Makueni County will be showcases of our success or albatrosses that spell our economic ruin when they are fully implemented as Vision 2030 flag-ship projects. The man on the street has given his full backing for the implementation of that economic blueprint and it is only for the organs of the State to play their rightful parts. The hopes of millions upon millions call upon the dedication and the sacrifice of one and all to ensure that the future generations of Kenyans will say that in 2013 we made a choice and it was the right one.

Threats, of course, exist. Amos Kimunya is experimenting with the draconian enforcement of the law when it comes to our lawless highways of death and destruction. If he succeeds, as the late John Michuki did, Kenyans will have proven to themselves that it is not for the "others" that laws are written but for all. If we can resolve the relatively simple matter of managing our public transport infrastructure, where every one that uses it plays by the rules, then the sky is the limit. We have done it before, too. When Kenya first enacted the Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act in 1999, there were fears, loud ones from the business community, that it would stymie investment and reduce growth. More than a decade later, Kenyans are proud of the job that environmental agencies are doing, though they know that more could still be done. The same must come to pass with the amended Traffic Act: if we can successfully enforce it, harrowing tales of matatu drivers delivering their passengers to their Maker in an untimely fashion will be scary stories we tell our children in the decades to come.

We must therefore, guard our assets with jealousy. It is not for one man or one community to dictate where we go from here. It is our solemn duty to ensure that the men and women we entrust with our welfare are persons of probity, whose integrity is unchallenged. We have sought this opportunity ever since Jomo Kenyatta turned out to have feet of clay and it is an opportunity that we must grasp like a drowning man and a straw. We may never get this chance n our lifetimes again.

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