Drought is ravaging the country. Thousands are going for days without proper food and animals are dying. Yet, our leaders are worried about tyranny of numbers and how to attain or retain power. For the second month now, Kenyans are unable to get affordable health care after doctors downed their tools. Now, students enrolled in public universities are not attending classes courtesy of the dons strike, never mind that time wasted can never be recovered. Yet again, our leaders are angry these students or their teachers are not serious about registering as voters. Could there be anything more selfish?
Firstly, politicians have hijacked the ongoing Mass Voter Registration (MVR) to begin their early campaigns ahead of the schedule. Not that it’s surprising, but it starting to sound very similar to the events that led up to the Post-Election Violence (PEV) following the disputed 2007/08 elections. The opposition – particularly CORD – is talking tough and using near threatening language. In a divisive environment like ours and indeed an election year, our leaders should be a little careful with what they say and not let the charged crowd excite them into saying things that can be misinterpreted especially by the unsettled, energetic and frustrated youth.
Pro-government politicians on the other hand keep challenging the opposition to engage the public on issue based politics but they are not doing that. Instead, pro-government politicians spend a good time talking about the opposition and obsessing over opposition leader Raila Odinga. Promoting Railaphobia can ensure Jubilee zones come out in large numbers but at what expense? Our leaders from both political divide should let the Mass Voter Registration exercise remain just that and wait for the campaign season. Even then, they should restrain themselves from combative politics and stick to issues they will do for Kenyans.
Meanwhile, Kenya – to nobody’s surprise – again performed poorly in the global corruption report, dropping to position 145 out of 176. Last year we ranked 139 out of 168 countries. Sadly, our government is not telling us how they will improve the situation and neither is the opposition telling us how they will curb this vice.
Worse still the electorate appears unconcerned and are not pressing their elected leaders-including MPs to demand that institutions like the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) show the return on investment. Thankfully, we just got a new EACC Chair in Archbishop Wabukala which renews the fight. Nonetheless, there’s a need to also focus on the secretariat because the turnover of the chair’s position at the Anti-Corruption agency is quite telling. And while we’re still on corruption to their credit the 11th Parliament has passed enough Bills on corruption including the recent Bribery Bill targeting the corporate world. Which begs the question: is it that the laws are difficult to enforce or law formulation is not enough to deter corruption?
Perhaps, the question we should all mull over is why we are not keen on enforcing chapter six on integrity. As long as we are turning a blind eye when it comes to the people we want in office with regard to integrity questions we should not be surprised when they’re involved in graft issues. In short, corruption remains a collective responsibility. If the electorate doesn’t play its rightful role and demand nothing short of what they deserve and institutions don’t live up to their objectives we shall continue having public officials who have no qualms stealing from the public.
Lastly, it’s sad that the famine currently ravaging the country is as predictable as our politicians in an election year but is still catching us flat footed. Senate’s attempt to establish a national food Security Council is delayed by power games between them and the National Assembly. These power struggles over which House is more powerful continues to cost Kenyans a lot because Parliamentarians are getting side-tracked and not keen. This rogue MPs with no interest for the public good should feel our wrath in August. That’s why we must continue registering in numbers.