Go through promises with a very fine tooth-comb ahead of August poll

Nothing will be left to chance.
Kenya’s 2017 General Election is around the corner. A beehive of activity by current and new politicians is in the offing. All possible strategies will be employed in seeking support and votes from the electorate. The most known, tried, tested and yielding of the Ancient schemes will certainly take precedence.

Its mantra is simple: “make believe”. In this era: manna will fall from heaven, perhaps stay longer until everyone has gathered enough, nightfall might be eradicated from the cosmic pattern, harsh climatic conditions such as drought might be banned forthwith, earth will be made a temporary heaven and cures for social ills such as poverty and unemployment unveiled.

Having made a fountain on the electorate’s concerns, better still, the road-map of the first 100 days in office will be of instantaneous transformation. People must see Canaan.

Grandeur, colour and pomp must be afforded and accommodated for well-established reasons. At the height of the campaign season, it will not be a surprise to witness fleets of branded cars or choppers swelling campaign platforms.

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Raised wooden structures will be erected deliberately for a 360 degrees public view during the ascension and descent of the “messiahs”. Key declarations and promises often mirroring the followers’ desires will be made with decorum. Nothing will be left to chance.

Top-notch musicians and comedy celebrities will be entertaining the electorate and ushering in the leaders. Some hired friends might be present to vouch for the astuteness of the leaders to be on first account narrative.

The so-called loyal strategists - opinion shapers and political consultants - will grace the occasions behind the scenes. Their feedback on how the electorate perceived the campaign promises will be vital and handsomely rewarded.

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I bet deserted venues such as weddings, worship centres, harambees, chamas and where-are-you will attract meteoric guests. These stratagems have been tested and found to generate lasting impressions on the zeal of the masses.
Kenyans must be cautious though!

Recent surveys reveal that most campaign promises remain empty after the elections. Sadly, even during the campaigns, the “politicians” know that they will largely not fulfil their part of the bargain once elected into office.

Perennial excuses will be loaded to pacify the electorate. The justifications are common and without much innovation.

They include: we are setting up systems, we are sealing the loopholes, we have no kitty, treasury failed to release funds on time, works of political opponents and of course powerful dark forces.

The cycle goes on until the eve of the next election. Here, experience, sage-like insights and miracle abilities are acclaimed in the quest for a second term. This is a precarious situation.

The wheel of democracy is a double-edged sword. The electorate should own up to some ills too. Some have sown some seeds that have undermined campaign promises; such as traces of tribe, clan, party, gender and money biases that sway voters.

The phrases: "we will vote for our own; mkono mtupu haulambwi [sic]; the candidate is right but wrong party; this is our time to eat" are common.

Philosophies

Other political constituencies, infamously the “strongholds” have manufactured eminent saints and cult-like figures. The electorate is often swayed out of the emptiness of political bigotry.

The natural outcome of such determination is that we elect leaders based on trivial issues. Could we possibly bring them to account on promises they never made in the first place? Perhaps they could only account for tribe, Chama and the handouts they grudgingly issue.

In moral and political philosophy, implementation of campaign pledges is a legitimate expectation of the governed. By wider consensus, they should be protected as sacrosanct and a yardstick for re-/election.

While we reckon that merely failing to account is a hit below the belt, greater emphasis should be on the process in which they are made. People Participation (P2) as enshrined in the Constitution is the best possible context of nurturing good governance as well as accountability. This P2 principle as expected will often send shock waves to the politicians. Possibly because they will play “make believe”.

Window! Kenyans must embrace Article 1 of the Constitution. They are the authentic possessors of power, which they choose to delegate to representatives (elected and appointed). Our electoral cycle is fiveyears, they must tread carefully.

Manifestos, blueprints and all campaign promises must be evaluated on genuine realism. Politicians should be made to offer meaning and explanations on how they will implement them.

In setting up specific targets and timelines of attainment, the electorate should participate and offer alternatives where better options or challenges are foreseeable.

For Kenya to reach the Promised Land, the electorate must wake up and read between the lines.

Mr Otachi is a PhD Candidate in Leadership and Governance at [email protected]

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2017 election