We’re barely 8months into the ‘new’ administration and the politics of 2022 has taken over-completely eclipsing the administration’s much touted big four agenda or the charade we’re being treated to in the name of fighting corruption. But in a country where more than 90% of the rich are politicians this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
More than once, both the President and his deputy have told us that the campaigns are over and it’s time to work; only they were being naïve to the forces of politics and indeed the dynamics of our politics or perhaps it was a rhetoric to the opposition that was gaining steam with their calls of illegitimacy.
Whatever the case, we can’t, and we’ll not stop with useless politicking at the expense of real development until we address the fundamental flaws in our democratic system.
To begin with, elections in Kenya are an expensive affair. It doesn’t matter how passionate you are about this country or the amazing ideas you have; if you’re not rich, simply forget it. And it’s partly the reason why women can’t compete with men in competitive elections. They don’t have the so called ‘war chest’ that can allow them to tanga tanga around in a bid to put up a good fight when the day of reckoning comes, but I digress.
The foundation of our politics; thanks to the founding fathers is based on little or no ideology but realpolitik-which is rather skewed towards Machiavellianism. It’s the reason our politics has never really been about ideologies or us the politicians like to call it, issues. It’s the reason these forefathers could amass wealth without any moral dilemma and subsequently pass these ‘values’ to the next set of leaders.
It’s quite sad that our political forefathers were so allergic to democracy that they killed multiparty politics right at birth-which could have given us a chance to campaign on ideologies as the country had yet to be galvanized around tribalism and or cronyism. By the time President Moi was giving us multiparty politics as a ‘gift,’ it was already a poisoned chalice.
The only thing to celebrate after 26years of multiparty politics is that a dictator left power-or so we thought-and that we’ve had at the very least, a new constitution-which those in power cherry-pick sections they will obey and live by.
Otherwise, our politics is still oppressive to the common man and glorifies those in power. Our political leaders are unashamedly corrupt and the same way our forefathers opted for an odd version of realpolitik to avoid dealing with the moral dilemmas of the day; the present political leaders have perfected it.
The all important question however is, why the perpetual campaign mood? Why would an elected MP for instance who has his work cut out, choose instead to engage in politics that’s 4 years away? The simple answer is they spend a fortune to get elected and need to recover that money for those who sponsored them or their companies-if self-sponsored. There’s a more complex answer that we can’t deal with comprehensively at the moment.
It’s the reason as someone pointed out; every regime must have an economic scandal. Moi’s was the Goldenberg; Kibaki’s was the Anglo-leasing and the present administration has a litany of scandals and we’re not sure we’ve witnessed the last of it yet, seeing as there appears to be an ongoing cold war within the administration. Nonetheless, all these scandals are about one objective-maintaining or acquiring power.
Forget the ongoing charade and the tough talk on corruption. The better way to kill the perennial campaign mood and with it, these corruption scandals, is to change how we play our politics. A beginning point is to implement the campaign financing by IEBC, including caps on individual contributions to candidates, total campaign expenditures, and political parties’ contributions.
This will deal with the ‘powerful business men’ funding political parties or individuals and the need to create scandals to build Sh.200 billion war-chests. And hopefully, MPs will spend less time pandering to party leaders and their ambitions and focus on representing Wanjiku.