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There is nothing new there, don’t fall for the deceit

By Alexander Chagema | Nov 8th 2021 | 3 min read

Boda Boda operators follow a political rally in Bungoma town. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

The season of deceit has come full circle. All else considered, what bedevils us is nothing more than a horde of politicians who, with conviction borne of experience, know they can pull the wool over Wanjiku's eyes any time.

To their detriment, Kenya’s rank and file are gullible. Their short memories, what Raila equates to the “Ngiri” (warthog) attention span, keep some politicians in office against the dictates of common sense. Today, The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has not given the nod to campaigns, but intensified political activities make it untenable to deny that campaigns for the 2022 General Election are in full flight.

Hitherto leading presidential contenders are falling all over each other, latching onto incongruous proclamations in the opposing camps to build their cases. In particular, Deputy President William Ruto’s bottom-up economic model and ODM leader Raila Odinga’s promise of Sh6,000 monthly stipend to unemployed youth form the meat of the campaigns.

The bottom-up economic model is as fuzzy to Wanjiku as it is to MP Alice Wahome who fumbled on national television trying to sell a concept she seemingly had not grasped well. Wheelbarrownomics also appears to have lost its glitz. Herders in northern Kenya are scratching their heads trying to figure out how to transport camels on wheelbarrows.

Those who aspire to become president aver they will revive the economy and create employment opportunities for youth. Yet, even as they pledge to beef up the economy, many “don’t know beef from pork” as one Harold Lowman once cheekily observed. Kenya is groaning under a Sh7 trillion external debt, which discredits any promise to state largesse, no matter how noble. The haphazard manner of managing Pesa kwa Wazee is a pointer to how chaotic giving stipends to millions of unemployed youth monthly would be. That dog won’t hunt, especially in a country whose middle name is corruption.

Seemingly, our leaders don't know what to do to fix our problems. Rather than find the antidote for unemployment, social inequalities, illiteracy and food insecurity, they would rather resort to demagoguery. So far, the early campaigns have revealed moral and ideological bankruptcy. Scoring points off each other and rabble-rousing are not helpful in addressing issues dear to citizens. Aspirants should desist from reducing the contest to that of the rich versus the poor and big versus small tribes. Nelson Mandela had it pat-down when he said it is not our diversity that divides us; not our ethnicity, religions or cultures. There can only be one division amongst us: Between those who cherish democracy and those who do not.

Bottom-up economics and stipends will not work in an environment replete with banditry, cattle rustling, illiteracy, greed and unbridled poverty as a product of poor leadership. At some point, former South African president Wilhelm de Klerk warned that “Peace does not fare well where poverty and deprivation reign. It does not flourish where there is ignorance and a lack of education and information”. These are some of the issues presidential contenders must address.

Mr Chagema works for The Standard. [email protected]

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