Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Why would you seek elective office in Kenya?

No one in Kenya who holds the position of President, Deputy President, Governor, Deputy Governor, Senator, Member of the National Assembly or Member of a County Assembly or any of the nominated offices in Parliament or a County Assembly is held in much of a positive light. 
Elected or nominated members of parliament or county assemblies, or leaders of the national or county governments are not elected or nominated because of their positive contributions to human knowledge, medicine, engineering, architecture, law, accountancy, education, philosophy or the arts. None of them is a published author - even with the modern-day proliferation of ghost-writers. They are, to a man and woman, professional politicians interested only in the capture and retention of political power to the total exclusion of all else.

They have perfected the art of being venerated and being seen to be venerated; they have made all national and local issues about them, and not about their constituents. It is why you will not be surprised to find elected and nominated members of parliament or county assemblies, president and governors and all the other holders of elective public office officiating at the "inauguration" of cattle dips, abattoirs, mud-walled schoolrooms and community boreholes - commemorated with a photo opportunity for the bigwig planting a tree while standing on a red carpet.

For the chance to take home over a million shillings a month for 12 days of actual legislative work, while using ones high public office to influence public investments in infrastructure, energy, education or security, there are Kenyans willing to keep the country in a permanent state of political ferment, campaigning even when no elections are in sight. It is how no-hoppers with tainted public records declare with aplomb that only an election will wipe their nefarious slates clean.

None of the contenders or holders of high public office have an ideology worth abiding by. They are not motivated by grand ideas. They are not animated by anything greater than personal victory. None even has the shame to come up with a slogan like Baba Moi's Peace, Love and Unity (calling it a "philosophy" was taking things a bit too far) or Mzee Kenyatta's clarion-call, "Harambee!". Instead, we are left to snigger at "Kusema na kutenda", "Chungwa Moja, Maisha Bora", "accept and move on", "Okoa Kenya" and any number of frankly embarassing slogans when chanted with gusto by potbellied men.

So why do we persist in the disproven belief that political office is a panacea for our national woes, if only the right man or woman occupies it? What makes you think that if Willy Mutunga or Ekuru Aukot or Gladys Boss Shollei or Anne Waiguru or any of the famous public servants we have encountered in the past three years held elective public office, things would get better? Kenya's politics is devoid of any of the things that make an institution great: integrity, honesty, goodwill, intellect, innovation  and curiosity. It is fuelled, like all poor political systems are, by money, cheating, greed, treachery, tribalism and violence. Anyone who chooses to willingly engage in a campaign to attain high political office in Kenya should be treated with great suspicion. Always.

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