Are Kenyans sacrificing integrity at altar of political expediency?

The anti-corruption agenda has been used by opposing political factions to woo voters

In Summary

•Azimio La Umoja camp has asserted that should they win the elections, Raila Odinga and his running mate Martha Karua, will deal a deadly blow to corruption.

•Kenya Kwanza camp has also hinted at bringing down number of corruption cases 

Kenya is currently at the apex of a highly charged season of political campaigns set to culminate on August 9, 2022.

The anti-corruption agenda in the country has been used by opposing political factions to woo voters with promises of nabbing the culpable.

The Azimio La Umoja camp has asserted that should they win the elections, Raila Odinga and his running mate Martha Karua, will deal a deadly blow to corruption, eradicating it entirely from the government system and the country as a whole.

On the other hand, the Kenya Kwanza camp has also hinted at bringing down corruption and streamlining government institutions should their supporters elect to office William Ruto and his running mate Rigathi Gachagua.

Meanwhile, numerous individuals interested in vying for various positions at the county and national levels have been barred from doing so on charges of involvement in corruption.

One such individual is former Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko, who was impeached for engaging in graft while in office.

Sonko had been accused of abuse of office, conflict of interest, unlawful acquisition of property and conspiracy to defraud thus declared unfit to be in office.

This led to him being initially barred by the IEBC from vying for any position in the August polls, based on his impeachment. However, he contested that decision at the Mombasa High court where he was subsequently cleared to run for the Mombasa Gubernatorial seat. In adherence to the court ruling, IEBC revoked its earlier decision and reinstated Sonko’s candidature for Mombasa governorship.

However, the recent turn of events have seen Sonko’s impeachmnet upheld by the Supreme Court thus barring him, again, from vying for any political position in the august Polls.

During this whole legal debacle, the Azimio camp embraced Sonko’s candidature, openly campaigning for him as a viable candidate for Mombasa county, in stark contrast to the anti-graft platform on which they have been campaigning.

Similarly, the Kenya Kwanza team has also embraced political candidates of questionable integrity as far as corruption is concerned. At the apex, the Kenya Kwanza presidential running mate, Rigathi Gachagua, is facing graft charges in court pending a hearing and determination on the same.

These two are but examples of the rot in the Kenyan political system, whereby candidates with tainted character are not only embraced but also vigorously campaigned for by both the political party structures and the electorate.

There are many more tainted candidates for various elective posts from the gubernatorial down to the MCA level, populating the two main political camps.

This should put them in the spotlight on their sentiments concerning graft. Their nonchalant attitude towards graft-accused politicians reveals their willingness to compromise on integrity issues for the sake of winning in the August polls.

The very fact that candidates accused of corruption and even those with ongoing court cases have the audacity to present themselves for political office, shows the general lack of seriousness on corruption issues in the country.

The public readily embrace such candidates and actively support them with some going as far as to denounce the charges against them as political witch-hunting.

Such blind support is often anchored on factors such as tribe and political affiliation, none of which have a bearing on the candidates’ ability to perform after the ballot.

In Sonko’s case, it has taken a ruling by the highest court in the land, to remove a candidate from the race following his impeachment, since the political establishment was unwilling to walk the talk on matters corruption.

And to imagine that an individual who was removed from office for abuse of office and misuse of public resources could be a frontrunner in another county is precisely what is wrong with the electorate.

The developments around Sonko’s gubernatorial bid bring to the forefront the question of what the electorate in Kenya want as the ideal outcome post-August 9.

Do they really want a just country following the rule of law, where meritocracy and integrity are held in high esteem? Or are they going to maintain the status quo of corruption and corner-cutting run by a pseudo-criminal political enterprise?

The ultimate choice belongs to the voters: to either vote in clean individuals who will bring lasting change or vote back tainted individuals who will continue to plunder public resources and a cycle of poor leadership.

The electorate have the power to elect new individuals who will deliver what the voters want, firmly deal with graft in the country, properly manage public resources and steer the country towards much-needed development for the benefit of all Kenyans.

Politicians know that the voters have power at the ballot hence the current intense campaigns targeting them with all manner of promises.

Being aware of the power they hold, voters should rally together to ensure that their candidates of choice are ones who will indeed deliver on promises made.

This will make a huge difference in the direction Kenyan politics will head starting with this year’s August polls.

Otherwise, the vicious cycle of corruption will linger on in the next government leaving citizens at the mercy of corrupt politicians for five more years. The question is, will voters use their power wisely this time round? Only time will tell.

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