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No, the president and his deputy aren’t equals

By Alexander Chagema | December 5th 2019

We keep lamenting that leaders turn out rogue almost immediately they are declared winners in elections. Yet despite the agonies, such leaders make us go through, we willingly repeat the same mistake of re-electing them every five years.

To this dilemma, British philosopher Bertrand Russel had an answer: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”

Our society is an exemplification of this truism if only because elected leaders, the most certain of themselves, have so unerringly guided Kenya down the precipice. But this is not to say that all leaders fall in the same mould.

Kenya has produced a few good leaders in-between who would have made it a better place, but their contributions have always been swamped by bad leaders. Unfortunately, the misfits from the majority.

We are barely a few paces from the spot we were during colonial days. Negative ethnicity, which wasn’t even an issue in 1963, is the beacon for our politics.

Arguably, Kenyans are poorer today than they were at independence. Rampant corruption resulting from state capture has guaranteed that Kenyans barely afford quality medical care, let alone quality education that remains a preserve of a select few in society.

More than half a century post-independence, we should be able to look back and say it was worth the struggle, but the question is; was it? We continue to labour under the yoke of not only bad, but mediocre leadership.

A leadership that is temperament-driven and lacks focus having sprouted from unfocused political parties.

Persuade voters

The New York Times columnist and author Tom Wicker aptly said this of political parties, and nothing dissuades me from agreeing, that “our political parties exist for no other reason than to win power; they are not ideological debating societies designed to present a particular political philosophy and to persuade voters to accept it”.

The glaring split in the ruling Jubilee Party vindicates this observation. What is its ideology? When murmurs of serious rifts in Jubilee first surfaced circa March 2018, Deputy President William Ruto was vocal in refuting them; painting a picture of normalcy that fooled no one. But with the emergence of belligerent political gangs in Jubilee, the futility of pretending all well became apparent to all, so much that even the deputy president has since stopped claiming all was well.

Uncompromising positions have been taken to the detriment of our country because mediocre politicians force their petty differences to be shared by the common man.

Political gang wars have left some of our leaders groping in the dark, trying to find footing and something to hold on to in their panic as a mighty political whirlwind keeps tossing them in different directions, so much that they appear to have lost compass.

By chance, a few who have been clutching onto straw as the virulent current generated by the March 9, 2018 handshake threatened to swamp them, have found something a little bit more solid to hang on in their desperate bids to survive the torrent. That ‘solid thing’ happens to be Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i.

The crest

A few days ago, Dr Matiang’i ruffled feathers in some quarters when he publicly averred his allegiance was to the president; ideally, the ultimate appointing authority in the country. That is a fact that nobody should deign to argue against.

Those propping the argument that the presidency is dual miss the point by a mile. First, whoever offers him/herself for the presidency chooses a running mate. That fact alone debunks any illusion of equality.

Even in marriages ordained by God, the man ranks a notch higher than the wife, notwithstanding that they become a single entity upon marriage; and the Bible affirms it.

Second, not having been on the ballot paper, hence not having been independently voted for, a deputy president merely rides on the crest of the wave created by the president’s boat.

Just because a caveat was put in the constitution to accord the deputy president security of tenure given his vulnerable position doesn’t make him equal to the president. In any case, the DP takes directions from the president. Where then is the equality?

Former American astrologer Carl Sagan opined that: “In science, it often happens that scientists say, ‘you know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken’, and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again.

“They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics”.

How about the belligerent Tangatanga squad proving Carl Sagan wrong?

Mr Chagema is a correspondent for The [email protected]

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