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No fence to sit on, pick the side you believe in

By Gathenya Njaramba - May 15th 2022
Voters queuing to cast their votes at Milimani Primary School in Nakuru during the London ward By-election on March 4, 2021. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

In exactly 86 days, each Kenyan voter will call themselves to a small meeting and make a decision. Inside the polling booth, there will be several choices proposed by various political formations. Your choice will determine Kenya’s leadership in the next five years. Between now and August 9, you must decide.  

Now, which political party do you belong to? What does it stand for? Do you agree with its ideology, agenda and policy? Do you believe if the party or coalition clinches power, your life and that of fellow Kenyans will change for the better? Are you indifferent or resigned to fate?

It is unfortunate that majority of Kenyans would find these questions unsettling, embarrassing and even polarising. Unsettling because you think you will offend your kin or friend. Embarrassing because you actually don’t believe in what your party stands for. Polarising because you support that party just so as to please your tribesmen.

As we approach the August 9 General Election, no leading presidential camp has released a detailed manifesto yet for Kenyans to peruse. They have only given piecemeal policy directions without explaining how they will go about it. However, politics being what it is, they have made numerous promises to their coalition partners and the larger electorate. Both camps believe they have convinced a sizable number of voters to cross the 50 plus one finishing line. But have they?

Deputy President William Ruto and his Kenya Kwanza Coalition have captured the imagination of the common man with their bottom-up economic model. This has fired up emotions among boda boda and mama mboga across the country. But how exactly will a hustler regime uplift those at the lowest rank in society? The hustler narrative scores big politically, but can it deliver Kenya to political nirvana?

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya flag bearer Raila Odinga promises to unite all Kenyan ethnic ‘nations’ to achieve prosperity. He has also pledged a Sh6,000 monthly stipend for poorest Kenyan families. This has also excited many vulnerable Kenyans across the country, especially those from the remotest regions. But how did Raila’s team arrive at the Sh6,000 amount? What will be the criteria of picking the disadvantaged households? Further, how will the Azimio regime raise the money? Will it be sustainable and can it take Kenyans to Canaan?

Well, these questions could be answered in a few days as the two camps release their detailed policy statements and manifestoes. But the Kenya voters must keenly watch, listen and familiarise with the two sets of leadership put on the table and make an informed choice. And there should be nothing to be ashamed about saying which formation you belong to.

Still, it is no time to claim to be an independent observer like my friend Edu, who is always quick to put that disclaimer at the local. Scan through the formations and get one that you feel comfortable in. The choices are wide and it does not have to be the so-called two horses. The Bible in Revelation 3:15-16, Jesus says, “I wish you were cold or hot, but because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth.”

Politics is too important to ignore or leave it to others to decide for you. Politics is at the heart of resource distribution and governance. It determines the quality of life for you and me, today and in the near future. If we elect incorrigible liars, corrupt and incompetent leaders, we get dividends immediately.

The writer is an editor at The Standard

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