• Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu was slandering and dressing down James Nyoro, reminding him of leadership ethos and his inadequacies.
• On the other hand, just a few kilometres away in Nairobi, a furious Governor Mike Sonko was hurling insults to Woman representative Esther Passaris.
During Madaraka Day celebrations last Saturday, two of our probably most controversial governors staged a free show.
On one hand, Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu was slandering and dressing down James Nyoro, reminding him of leadership ethos and his inadequacies as the Deputy Governor. It is, in fact, laughable who should have been reminding the other!
On the other hand, just a few kilometres away in Nairobi, a furious Governor Mike Sonko was hurling insults to Woman representative Esther Passaris.
A quick glance at these two governors’ counties is a glaring litany of abuse of office, lethargy and power play at the expense of service delivery to their electorate.
That this duo like to quibble and trivialise issues is not in denial.
Not so long ago one of them recorded the other in a conversation and released the audio to treat the public to yet another unnecessary ‘entertainment’ show, devoid of real issues facing their people and the nation at large.
To them, the kind of politics and leadership best known to them is the domineering one without concrete plans to ameliorate the living standards of the people they lead.
In regards to Sonko’s case, what angered and captured the attention of many is the implicit use of vulgar language characterised by some sexual connotations.
He depicted himself as a citadel of male patriarchal bastion ready to engage in sideshows to undermine other elected leaders. Passaris' walkout during his speech was the appropriate action in protest against those demeaning remarks.
WHAT DOES THE CONSTITUTION SAY?
Chapter Six of the Constitution on Leadership and Integrity, Article 73 expects state officers to behave in a manner consistent with the purposes and objects of the Constitution.
It further obligates them to demonstrate respect for the people and to endeavour to bring honour to the nation and dignity to the offices they hold and promote public confidence in the integrity of the office.
By and large, the governor’s remarks horrendously fly in the face of the country’s collective effort to level the playing ground between men and women in politics.
This virulently undermines the progress being made to advance women political participation.
What those remarks did is to entrench the wrong long-held perceptions that women cannot make better leaders or are simply flower girls, a perception that deserves to be debunked by those who care about gender equality in politics.
One of the young women leaders through her social media page said, “That was so unfair to Passaris. The worst is how women who were in attendance kept mum and cheering the governor. When will women of Kenya stand in solidarity with one of their own even when they don’t know her? I wish all the women walked out in solidarity with her. An injury to one woman should be an injury to all women. Patriarchy and male chauvinism still reign in all fields until the day women will stand up and defend one another.”
A historical investigation on women in politics in Kenya presents a state of affairs that is a stark reminder to all of us that achieving gender equality in the country remains a struggle. At the global level, it is worth noting that, as noted by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in 2017, women’s rights are being “reduced, restricted and reversed”.
In view of the current rate of regression, the Global Gender Gap Report 2017 of the World Economic Forum concluded that the world might take 217 years to reach the 50-50 gender parity.
In the wake of these unwarranted conducts from the aforementioned governors, the question we should all ask them is whether they have conducted themselves in a manner consistent with Chapter Six of the Constitution on Leadership and Integrity.
Another all-important question we need to ask ourselves is what really constitutes the concept of leadership. Is there a secret to leadership? Why do a few leaders get it right and the majority don’t? Could it be that approaches to leadership training and basic assumptions about what leadership entails have been assembled on a faulty foundation?
Governors must recognise that devolution was designed to improve governance, not as an end itself but as a means to unlocking the potential of the nation in realising socioeconomic development in an accelerated and equitable mode. And that they must be guided by that promise of the Constitution. The Supreme Law in its letter and spirit restores the right to development and obligates the governors to facilitate economic and human development and not to engage in sideshows. Period!
Nkuubi is the executive director, Governance Pillar Organization