RAILA ENDORSED

MWAURA: Small traders from Mt Kenya matter too

In an egalitarian society, the issue of equal opportunity is significant

In Summary

• The ban on imports under the pretext of contraband goods really hurt the core of many business people from Mt Kenya region

• The non-payment of pending bills means a lot of investor capital is pent up within the inefficient government bureaucracy.

ODM leader Raila Odinga joins dance with Mt Kenya Foundation business and professional elites led by chairman Peter Munga, Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia and Mohoho Kenyatta at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi, on Septembe 28.
TYCOONS: ODM leader Raila Odinga joins dance with Mt Kenya Foundation business and professional elites led by chairman Peter Munga, Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia and Mohoho Kenyatta at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi, on Septembe 28.
Image: DOUGLAS OKIDDY

The Mt Kenya Foundation, an assembly of wealthy business people from Central Kenya, has awaken to the realisation that they need to bundle together to have a presidential candidate to protect their interests.

Their chairman, Titus Ibui, a former Permanent Secretary in President Mwai Kibaki’s government said it plainly that they don’t want their businesses to be disrupted.

In a meeting with ODM leader Raila Odinga at Safari Park Hotel on Tuesday, they clearly indicated he is their preferred candidate, saying that they would ensure they turned the tide in the mountain to his favour. The indeed endorsed him.

The tycoons fear there can be a president who, if elected, can be anti-business.

Curiously, this is the same argument the same group has advanced against Raila in the past. The big question, therefore, is: What has changed this time round?

OKA leaders have since declined their invitation stating that the group has already endorsed Raila.

On the other hand, small and medium sized businesses have grievances about the policies that the Jubilee government has implemented to the detriment of their survival.

To begin with, the ban on imports under the pretext of contraband goods really hurt the core of many business people from Mt Kenya region. This coupled with evictions in various places such as Kariobangi add to the sentiments that small businesses and therefore enterprise were criminalised. In addition, the non-payment of pending bills means a lot of investor capital is pent up within the inefficient government bureaucracy. This has led to the death of many SMEs.

On the other hand, Deputy President William Ruto, who has declared his 2022 presidential bid and who has been placed as the clear favourite in the Mt Kenya region has decided to engage directly with the people and through elected representatives.

His hustler nation narrative has resonated with the millions of such business owners who are spread across the country, from Lodwar, to Garbatula, Wajir, Kitui, Voi, and Namanga etc.

Political leadership plays a critical role in two major ways. To begin with, it’s about creating an enabling environment through policies. Second, the biggest market for goods and services is the government itself. In fact, there are very few big businesses that can survive successfully without doing business with the government. These are indeed the real Interests at stake here.

The challenge of elite politics versus the masses is that while the people have the votes, the elite have the resources needed to mobilise the very masses.

The biggest threat though is when you have the resources deployed to prop up an agenda whose interests isn’t to empower the people but rather to ensure the masses are relegated to the periphery.

A question thus arises on whether the people usually have an equal opportunity to self–determine in terms of their political choices.

What is quite baffling is that very few people are always ready to stand up to voice the real concerns of the masses for them to get what is due to them, essentially what is right. This is largely due to the fear of reprisal rather than the lack of a genuine desire for change. It, therefore, means tt any society must have within its rank and file, genuine people who rise and stand up for the truth against all odds.

There are so many poor people in the mountain region lacking proper healthcare, school fees, quality meals, living in squalid conditions and would like their neighbourhoods improved in terms of infrastructure such as water and roads etc. They, too, want something to produce and sell to local and international markets.

They want to have roads and railways that take their produce to other people in exchange of an income to improve their lot, not ones that bring to them products made by other people for them to distribute and consume only, yet they end up paying for the loans that were procured to build them.

In an egalitarian society, the issue of equal opportunity is significant in that everyone who has already made wealth should feel secure in their business ventures.

The role of government is to provide and ambient environment for them to thrive. This guarantee is critical for such a class of people. On the other, the masses want a guarantee that they, too, can have a go at life and therefore start small and grow to become prosperous in future; that they too can have a brighter tomorrow.

These two schools of thoughts must meet at some point. The fearmongering about retribution has been used in the past to deny justice to many a people who sought equity since when one is used to privilege, demand for equity sounds like oppression. Is it possible to build an economic system that is beneficial for all?

What is the common good of big and small business?