Awhile back one of the dailies ran a headline to the effect that Kenya was a gambling nation. There was a mixed reaction with strong opponents and proponents regarding the headline. A few days ago SportPesa betting firm unveiled Kenya’s newest millionaire. A 28-year-old who had won the Sh.221million jackpot. Since then previous staunch opponents of betting have reconsidered their earlier stand. But that’s not the shocker. The real shocker is the perennial losers who’ve gambled their future; lost families but refuse to quit and try the old time-tested investment opportunities.
More interesting is how this gambling craze resembles our political life. The just concluded primaries have seen some of the candidates with the most troubling background given a strong vote of confidence by their electorate in their constituencies. It’s not like corruption in this country doesn’t have a face. We know these people; we’ve read the collosal amounts they’ve helped stolen. We know the lives destroyed by corruption. But no, we have to gamble our future to these wanting leaders because better the devil you know right?
A gambler is a person who likes to engage in silly optimism that’s neither here nor there; someone who doesn’t believe in going the long haul-because what’s the point right? He wants instant gratification and hopes his problems can go away with one single win. Gamblers are intense people-they sell prized property and can gamble their children’s fees or their own school fees and justify it. The idea is to find optimism in luck. How pathetic!
Truth is this are the exact characteristic of your average Kenyan voter. It’s funny we complain about how the youth are wasting time and money in activities whose outcomes can’t be guaranteed but consider our voting pattern the past few elections. Otherwise how do you think people elect known thugs; drug lords and tribal chieftains and still afford to sleep soundly at night? Like the gambler who keeps repeating his mistakes hoping for luck we bring back these corrupt people in the name of tribe, better thief, devil you know-so on and so forth simply because we are afraid to roll our sleeves look at these candidates keenly against the qualities of a leader as espoused in Chapter Six of the Constitution. People who don’t take time to think through activities and make sober choices, end up gambling their future.
The 2010 Constitution is probably the best thing that should have ever happened to Kenyan political history. The insatiable appetite for corruption by elected leaders since the first government dimmed the country’s development light so much that there was no light at the end of any tunnel until the promulgation of the new Constitution in 2010. Until then we had no way of stopping people with questionable character from taking office.
Sadly, it’s not just the electorate that appears to like gambling their future. Institutions that are supposed to defend the country too appear to be more interested in short term approaches rather than long term sustainable means. Disturbingly, whenever cases around integrity are before court there seems to be a pattern where the interpretation is based on the letter only and not the spirit of the constitution. Mitigating short term political crises that only serve the interest of a corrupt group and leaving the majority disappointed.
A report on leadership and Integrity: Towards Hazy Horizons; Implementation of Chapter Six of the 2010 Constitution by a joint initiative of Parliamentary Initiative Network (PIN) gives a background on the impetus that led to the creation of Chapter Six. The report explains that State officers are the nerve Centre of the Republic and carry the highest level of responsibility in the management of state affairs and, therefore, their conduct should be beyond reproach. Further elaborating unequivocally that those whose conduct does not bring honor, public confidence and integrity have no place in the management of public affairs. Indeed this was the spirit of Chapter Six of the constitution. Which by-the-way is the only new Chapter in the entire Constitution; the rest of the Chapters have been tweaked from the old Constitution.
This week Members of Parliament have asked that the NYS report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) be implemented. This is a good move, but it shouldn’t be focused only on one individual like they’re making it to be. Former CS Waiguru was not the only one adversely mentioned. Other elected leaders mentioned in the NYS saga must also be targeted for fairness sake. For now the ball is in the vetting institution’s court. We can only hope they will respect the Spirit of the Constitution and allow Kenyans a chance to pick leaders of integrity.