SAMUEL KIMEU: Address societal inequalities to attain inclusive governance

Kenya's journey towards good governance has been slippery, treacherous and uncertain

In Summary
  • Inclusive governance guarantees transparency, accountability, efficiency and the rule of law at all levels.
  • It also enables effective management of human, natural, economic, and financial resources for equitable and sustainable development.

Inclusivity is the core value of democratic governance.

It entails equal participation, equal treatment, and equal rights before the law.

This implies that all people, including the poor, women, ethnic and religious minorities, indigenous peoples, and other marginalised groups, have the right to meaningfully participate in governance processes and inform decisions that affect them.

Inclusive governance guarantees transparency, accountability, efficiency and the rule of law at all levels.

It also enables effective management of human, natural, economic, and financial resources for equitable and sustainable development.

Kenya's journey towards good governance has been slippery, treacherous and uncertain.

From independence in 1963 to the restoration of multiparty democracy in 1991 to the adoption of the new Constitution in 2010, this quest has proven elusive.

The promulgation of the Constitution 2010 was perceived as a breath of fresh air in the quest for a more inclusive society.  

Nonetheless, more than a decade into the implementation of the constitution 2010, Kenya still has one of the most unequal societies globally.

Without order and leadership that adhere to the rule of law, the situation is likely to remain unchanged for a long time.

The gap between the hoi polloi and the upper crust will continue to widen.

To address the inequality challenge, we must fix the root cause at the societal level.

The majority of the population in Kenya are youth.

According to the 2019 Population and Census, 75% of the  47.6 million population is under the age of 35.

However, many of these young people have no stable source of livelihood.

By leveraging the creativity of the young population in the country, the government should create opportunities for all by closing the loopholes that enable corrupt practices in public offices to create a level playing field.

We must also strengthen the legal system so that all citizens from every walk of life get justice without prejudice.

The judiciary and the police service should be empowered to deliver justice and protect lives without fear and favour across the four corners of the country. 

Equally these services should be held to account for what they do with the mandate donated to them by the Constitution of Kenya.

More than half a decade since independence, it's annoying that many Kenyans can barely afford a single meal in a day.

This situation has been exacerbated by the increased cost of living and the debilitating effects of climate change. 

To ensure food security, there is a need to increase productivity by deploying farming methods that adapt to climate change.

The appropriate technology and innovation should be deployed to harness tracts of land in arid and semi-arid regions into a productive resource.

Leaders in all spheres of life should be inspirational, highly professional and act with integrity.

To inspire members of the public to achieve more, they must demonstrate transformational leadership.

The national interest should take precedence over personal interests.

It should be evident to members of the public how their lives are being changed for the better through the policies that the government pursues.

In any sustainable transformation of society, a vibrant civil society is crucial.

Civil society is essential in any healthy and inclusive development.

It provides a space for people to come together to share interests and common goals while amplifying these voices.

Civil Society Organisations keep an eye on government policies and actions and hold them accountable.

They advocate for alternative policies for the government, the private sector, and other institutions thus contributing to the greater good of the country.

In a well-ordered society, civil society must be allowed to thrive.

Any inclusive society requires free and objective media.

In spite of the media's freedom and independence being guaranteed in the constitution, media professionals have occasionally been on the receiving end.

Media provides the information necessary for the government to make responsible, informed decisions.

It also serves as a "checking function", ensuring those in leadership uphold high standards of public service.

Threats and intimidations to the members of the fourth estate should be dealt with within the law and with the protection of the ideal of media freedom firmly in focus.

Ultimately, sustainable development cannot be achieved without an informed, engaged and inclusive society.

Professionalism and integrity in public service, including an effective and accessible legal system, are critical pillars towards this end.

A strong and independent media and civil society complete the first foundation required to propel society in a more sustainable manner.

Samuel Kimeu is the Executive Director of Africa‚Äôs Voices Foundation. [email protected]

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