The main political parties will launch their election manifestos this week, starting with NASA today and Jubilee before the end of the week. Hopefully, the launch will help ground the campaigns on issues rather than the acrimonious rhetoric and political mudslinging we have seen so far.
Parties form the bloodline of any democracy. As much as possible, parties that win elections ought to carry the dreams and capture the imaginations of the people.
Sadly, over the years, parties have become vehicles for self-promotion and self-glorification deficient of any ideology or plan. It is expected that the parties have assembled the best of brains to cogently articulate issues that matter to the people and the country including a clear economic policy.
How for example, they intend to spread around the wealth from what on the outside looks much like a thriving economy (registering a 5.6 per cent growth); or how they can ensure that the interest cap regime introduced last year achieves the intended purpose of availing cheap credit to all and sundry thereby spurring economic growth; or the parties' plan to unite a country torn apart by the toxic politics of exclusivity; policies on education, health, youth, women, and other disadvantaged groups including even freedom of expression, should find space too.
Most notably, NASA deplores Jubilee's penchant for loans (Kenya's debt of Sh3.8 trillion represents a 52.7 per cent ratio to GDP) but doesn't explain how it intends to funds its own lofty ideas. Will they tax more? That needs to be clarified in their manifesto.
Each of the parties should also elucidate how it intends to handle industrial unrest as workers clamour for higher wages amidst slowing productivity. More importantly, Kenyans need to be told how the party that forms the next government intends to handle runaway corruption that is denying millions of youth opportunities in life.
Through their manifestos, the parties will ensure that ideology and a contest of ideas that offers a viable alternative to the voters, is encouraged and institutionalised.