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GOVERNANCE

Voters need empowerment, not trickery and tokenism

Political bandits must exit the stage and pave way for an honest engagement with Wanjiku.

In Summary

• Our 50-year odyssey from independence has been fraught with disappointment after another due to bad governance 

• Save for the Mwai Kibaki presidency, pundits argue that we have only had cycles of leadership misadventures, wasted opportunities.

Voters at Makongeni polling station in Kwale county /CHARI SUCHE
Voters at Makongeni polling station in Kwale county /CHARI SUCHE

Democracy is predicated on the assumption that voters are well endowed to make conscientious and  informed choices about the kind of leadership they desire.

On this basis, the Constitution puts our country’s sovereignty in the hands of the people. The statutes also unequivocally demand for public participation in implementation of government policies. This then echoes the position of Abraham Lincoln who in affirming the people’s popular sovereignty called for ‘a government of the people by the people and for the people’.

But in a polity where the majority of voters are acutely ignorant of their civic duties and largely manipulated by the political class along toxic negative ethnicity, threat to violence, bribery and plain chicanery, democracy fails ab initio. Indeed, an ignorant voter’s ballot is as dangerous as a loaded AK-47 in the grip of a gorilla.

Our 50-year odyssey from independence has been fraught with disappointment after another due to bad governance in spite of the citizenry having an opportunity to fix the mess every election cycle.

Never mind that we have enjoyed opportunities to change the trajectory of our national growth, ranging from the declaration of independence, the reintroduction of multi-party democracy, the defeat of Kanu to the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution. Were we not ranked the most optimistic people in the world in 2002? So when and why do things go south for us?

Save for the Mwai Kibaki presidency, pundits argue that we have only had cycles of leadership misadventures, wasted opportunities.

The trouble with Kenya and by extension the rest of third world, methinks, is a largely ignorant and disenfranchised electorate, a lot that has absolutely no sense of civic duty.

History reveals that this is a malaise created and propagated from early times by our colonial masters, who feared that a knowledgeable, informed and mentally liberated citizenry would be inimical to their devilish and selfish imperialist enterprise.

The power wielders of the first republic were quick to learn and sustain the system that blinded the citizenry in order to sustain the domination and ravenously exploitative regime that the white man had bequeathed them.

Granted, not all is lost; we have actually achieved some milestones as a nation. And here devolution stands out tall. But we have fallen far short of our potential and capabilities. Why be content with an inch if we can achieve an ell?

To reverse this unfortunate trend, we stand a snowballs chance in hell if we  do not focus on the right cog in the wheel of democracy. We must find Wanjiku. We must empower Wanjiku. We must not objectify Wanjiku in our electoral system.

Political bandits must exit the stage and pave way for an honest engagement with Wanjiku. Obviously, neither the BBI nor ‘the hustler nation’ narrative is a panacea to this social malady.

Isn’t it cringe worthy that hardly three years into their term, a very popular governor has been impeached, scores are facing the same wrath in their county assemblies and at least five have been barred from office by the courts due to economic crimes?

Need I mention the MPs facing the real threat of a long jail term  due to corruption and other related crimes? Of course, some of these culprits have been in and out of courts for the last decade and their moral probity and suitability to hold office has been downright questionable.

But their parties cleared and sponsored them to office, and so did IEBC, NCIC and other agencies. Finally, the voters endorsed them resoundingly at the ballot! How could so many people be so wrong?