POLITICS

Voting should be about the people, not politicians’ greed for power

BBI conversation must be seized to put the citizen at the centre of all decisions

In Summary

• Unfortunately, the BBI discussion has been misconstrued merely as a check on which political grouping between Kieleweke and Tangatanga is popular.

• This has reduced discussion on the content of the BBI to mean support for either of the two political divides.

 Kenyans have less than 21 months before the August 2022 General Election.

As provided by the Constitution, the country will witness a change of power in the presidency since the incumbent has served the maximum two terms.

Besides the change in power in the presidency, there are also many governors who are equally serving their second and last terms. They will be required to hand over to their successors.

The Covid-19 pandemic does not appear to have slowed down politicians and their ambition to lead. The impending transfer of power at the national and county levels has created uncertainty and heightened political temperatures in the country.

The handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga resulted in the Kielweke and Tangatannga factions.

Kieleweke are linked to Uhuru and Raila, supporting the handshake, while Tangatanga is pro-Ruto, drumming up support for his 2022 presidential bid.

Despite the Covid-19 protocols to curb the spread, politicians have gone about their business undeterred, to the disgust of many.

The Building Bridges Initiative and the anticipated referendum is the key political discussion point in the country. The two political groupings have engaged in power games and political aggrandisement, with their followers engaging in open political battles and character assassination.

With a checkered history of general elections marred with violence and chaos, the situation does not portend well for the electorate and democracy in the country.

Article 38 (2) of the Constitution provides that “every citizen has the right to free, fair and regular elections based on universal suffrage and the free expression of the will of the electors…”

This means every citizen has the right to vote for a leader of his/her choice in an election that is transparent, just and held within the  prescribed time period.

Historically, however, Kenya’s elections have always been hotly contested, with allegations of rigging widely reported. The 2007-08 post-election violence was the worst in Kenya’s history. More than 1,000 people died and hundreds of thousands were internally displaced.

To date, the violence is still fresh in Kenyans’ memories and remains  a stark reminder of how the country can easily degenerate into chaos should we fail to heed the warning signs around elections.

Unfortunately, politicians never learn and are again engaging the electorate on ethnic and regional lines, further balkanising the people and sowing seeds of division among them.

Before the general election, the possibility of a referendum to change the Constitution is in the horizon. Unfortunately, the BBI discussion has been misconstrued merely as a check on which political grouping between Kieleweke and Tangatanga is popular. This has reduced discussion on the content of the BBI to mean support for either of the two political divides.

There are many Kenyans who have their views on the BBI report but are not ready to share them because should they do so, instead of their issues being heard, they will just be tagged as supporters of either of the two political sides.

The whole political situation in the country is a recipe for disaster and must be countered by civic education and election monitoring programmes that will bring the people together and remind them of the importance of nationhood, peace and security.

As we battle Covid-19 pandemic, the people must be reminded to remain focused on what is good for the country and not politicians. Politics and campaigns, whether for the referendum or general elections, should be about how Kenyans stand to lose or gain and not which politicians will be favoured by the outcome of the vote.

Emerging from the pandemic and the opportunity of a referendum, there is a real chance for the country to reorganise itself afresh and usher in a new way of doing things. This chance must be seized to put the citizen at the centre of all decisions.

It should not be about politicians and their greed of power.