Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Welcome to 2023

It pays to pay attention to what politicians do and say, even as it is increasingly exhausting to do so. Many of the decisions made by government officials are affected by what elected politicians do or say, decisions that affect our day-to-day lives in large and small ways. Take the miffed bad-tempered reactions by the many, many men in the Meru county assembly for example. One worthy was so offended by the Meru Governor's vindication by the Senate that he declared on public television that he was no longer available to listen, or deal with, the complaints from his constituents. Instead, he sniffily announced, the aggrieved residents of the county should take their troubles to the Governor as he and his colleagues would only be available for weddings, funerals and birthdays.

This kind of performative stupidity affects the Government, and the governed, in profound ways. In Nairobi, a Nyeri senator has threatened to bring a motion of impeachment against the Nairobi Governor because the Governor has disrespected the Deputy President and "businessman from Mt Kenya region". Nairobi is plagued by many problems, one of which is the seemingly law-unto-itself behaviour of the matatu industry. Nairobi's Governor has made proposals on how to deal with some of the problems caused by the matatu industry. The Deputy President has attempted to intervene in the matter, invoking the claim that it will adversely affect business people from Mt Kenya region. The Nairobi Governor has, quite rightly, told him to mind his own national business and leave the county government to its rightful leadership. The Nyeri senator, feigning umbrage and pique, has chimed in with his two cents and acted like the senatorial toddler he is by threatening impeachment for the governor who is doing the job for which he was elected.

When Makueni county assembly members attempted to intimidate Governor Kivutha Kibwana, he stood his ground, and asked for the county government to be dissolved. The crisis was only resolved when the national government intervened. The voters sent all the members oof the assembly, save one, home at the next general election. It would behoove the nutters in Peru and Nyeri to take heed of their power and not allow the kinds of wasteful shenanigans engaged in by their elected representatives.

We enter 2023 faced with serious economic challenges that require sobriety and intelligence to resolve. The challenges will take longer to address if elected representatives are stupidly flexing their non-existent legislative muscles to bully and intimidate state officials charged with making life-altering decisions regarding the challenges. Tabloids like the Daily Nation and the Standard do not help by amplifying asinine political contests that do legislative and administrative harm instead of doing what the first drafters of history are supposed to do: hold the Government to account by telling truth to power.

But because of the domestic economic troubles many of us face, the lack of a credible Fourth Estate, the amplification of salacious spectacle over reasoned examination of state power, we are hard-pressed to pay attention to what needs paying attention to. School curricula, and the economic interests that favour one curriculum design over all others, are examined only by committed educationists and whose voices are smothered and suppressed. Electricity policy is a murky place where secret contracts with shady off-shore companies and inexplicable tax policies ensure that no Kenyan home is quite certain whether the electricity they are paying for isn't actually some form of poverty-inducing programme designed to keep them in penury for all eternity. Organised labour continues to suffer from sclerotic union leadership, where geriatrics gallivant to international bacchanalias and abandon any form of collective action to beef up paycheques for their members. The lunacies of the Meru county assembly members, and the news media amplification of those lunacies, are signs of coming terrible times for Kenyans. Something needs to give before we are overwhelmed and resort to extreme measures to force changes at the top.

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