DISHONESTY IN THE HANDSHAKE

Building bridges beyond political opportunism

BBI politics remind us of a tendency by politicians to make political capital out of every situation to gain more influence.

In Summary

• Political opportunism includes the practice of abandoning or compromising on important political principles in the process of trying to increase one’s political power and influence.

• A political opportunist will increase their political influence at any prize, including seizing every and any opportunity to extend influence whenever such opportunities arise

Kalonzo Musyoka, Raila Odinga and Governor Charity Ngilu at Saturday's BBI rally in Kitui.
KITUI BBI: Kalonzo Musyoka, Raila Odinga and Governor Charity Ngilu at Saturday's BBI rally in Kitui.
Image: LINAH MUSANGI

The discussion on the BBI has sparked a heated debate from the general public,  between Tangatanga and pro-handshake groups and among other interest groups.

The debate is over who holds the interest of the common mwananchi at heart and what key changes must be reflected in the final report.

These discussions have blatantly and clearly brought out a barefaced picture of the level of political opportunism in Kenya. Politicians from the two quarters spearheading the debate have manifested their cunning, immoral, greedy, corrupt and selfish behavior which Kenyans must now speak against.

During the release of the initial BBI report late last year, the same leaders termed the report as “good for the common mwananchi”. However, the level of the war of words and the anomalous actions witnessed between these two groups leaves the wananchi completely perplexed.

Political opportunism includes the practice of abandoning or compromising on important political principles in the process of trying to increase one’s political power and influence. A political opportunist will increase their political influence at any prize, including seizing every and any opportunity to extend influence whenever such opportunities arise.

BBI politics remind us of a tendency by politicians to make political capital out of every situation to gain more influence. In complete disregard of the interest of the taxpayers, elected leaders have failed to initiate and/or improve the political understanding of report to Kenyans.

The fight between the Tangatanga and Kieleweke groups has made Kenyans believe there is much more behind the scenes — making alliances, pacts and signing of agreements for a cause. 

The initial and partial release of the report and the so-called review of the proposals paint a picture of a case of power being wielded by means of a “special knowledge” which others don’t have access to.

To avoid public outcry and in a complete act of dishonesty in terms of public participation, the report was then released in a case of “let the people know part of the story” but not the full story for political reasons.

Our politicians are so short-sighted and narrow-minded that in the midst of their 2022 power ambitions and to preserve their selfish gains, they have overlooked the relationship between the means being used and the overall goal of creating a better Kenya. The obvious end result, which the taxpayer will have to bear with is t short-term gains that lead to long-term pain.

It is extremely embarrassing to see how our leaders have forgotten their mandates to work and deliver for the electorate, and are completely blinded by power talks in the BBI. Even assuming that Kenya goes to a referendum today and new political positions are created, it would be very absurd to appoint the same people who are unable to deliver in those positions they currently hold.

Even the likes of ODM leader Raila Odinga, who told Kenyans that BBI is not about 2022, have completely been absorbed by the BBI drama.

Having been appointed as the AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development in 2018, Raila is the man in charge of the continent's integration drive through infrastructure to promote economic growth and sustainable development.

Instead, he is doing very little for Kenya to benefit from this position. He is yet to push for increased commitment to Kenya from development partners.

It is a common norm in Kenya for politicians who have lost elections and have been outmaneuvered to latch on to any kind of opportunity to claw their way back to power. Kenyans must now demand good politics from their leaders. They must not keep quiet even as politicians charge off in every direction trying to satisfy the latest public whim while completely ignoring and disregarding the will of the people.

Leaders have fallen short of morally consistent behaviours. Whereas it may be necessary to seize a political opportunity when it presents itself, it should ideally be seized with appropriate reasoning, sufficient public participation and “on a principled basis”. This is basically what a leader on the extremity of leaving behind a legacy should aim to accomplish to ensure the right things are done for the right reason(s).                                                                                                 

Mugambi is a senior legal assistant, Ashfords & Co. Advocates

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