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January 20, 2019

It's time to give an account

Mr. Tumbo
Mr. Tumbo

The peak season of political deception is here. Vendors of propaganda are in overdrive – conning the electorate in the hope wananchi can buy another five years of plunder.

The lords of mendacity are spread across different electoral levels. Voters elected leaders to six offices in March 2013. Four years later, the incumbents are being called upon to give an account.

There are many unfulfilled promises at the end of their tenure. Diversions won’t sell. Malice won’t appeal to an increasingly conscious electorate.

Excuses are not working in the face of the knowledge that public funds are being wasted in corruption.

Governors are restless, irritable, and violent. They are quick to anger when confronted with questions of accountability. They spew unprintable abuses, are contemptuous, and threatening. Rescuing a goat from the claws of a lion would be easier.

The anger is directed at the victims of bad governance. But we, the people, are saying the incumbents should understand that deception does not win votes. The season of the long knives has arrived. The 40 days of lies are over for the 40 hounds around power.

Devolution has been betrayed in most counties, as opinion pollsters report. The excuse that devolution is still ‘young’ and has no ‘precedent’ cannot sell. The incumbents should account for the Sh24 billion each county has received, on average, from the National Treasury and other sources, over the past four financial years.

Even where the money was spent on laying the foundation for development, the electorate should see the investments in basic services brought closer to the people.

Senators, woman reps, MPs and MCAs are under siege. Accountability time has arrived sooner than they had hoped. Voters are angrier and hungrier than they have ever been in previous elections.

Incumbents who often play clan, ethnic, and tyranny of numbers cards have realised the ground has shifted. The numbers are not adding up. There is massive disenchantment.

Rage is palpable from an electorate that has been treated to raw plunder of public funds. A public that has seen corruption in its raw, uncivilised, untrained, and unrestrained form. In one county, anti-corruption investigators allegedly found Sh50 million in a septic tank at the home of a senior county assembly officer. In the same county, ghost workers have been exposed. Some of the ghosts are double employees, feeding from the same public account. Their chorus is, ‘Mtado (what will you do)’?

The incumbents must account for this cocktail of corruption and impunity before demanding votes through violence. The consequences of corruption can no longer be ignored. Corruption erodes the moral fabric of society; violates the social and economic rights of the poor and the vulnerable; undermines democracy; retards development; and denies the majority the benefits of free and fair competition.

Apathy is soaring. How do you convince victims of official misrule to vote when they are suffering the consequences of misinformed leadership?

How do you convince a voter in Baringo county that you can guarantee their security when funerals of victims of runaway banditry are attacked during a Requiem Mass?

How do you convince ranchers in Laikipia that they are safe when their investments are vandalised with unprecedented impunity? How do you convince voters who have lost their livelihood, their livestock, in the current drought that you can give them water when reelected?

The burden of incumbency is heavy. Telling other presidential aspirants, who have never been president, that they were in government for a 100 years combined, does not address the challenge of incumbency.

Reelection is determined by how many pre-poll promises are delivered. Not so much the capacity to kill, maim, spew threats, blackmail or seek company in tribes, clans, and parties.

For fresh aspirants, it is no longer merely pledges. Contact and a contract with the electorate make all the difference. But the time to interact and sign new contracts is running out.

Poll of the day