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After handshake, it’s now time to get down to some real work

By The Standard | Published Fri, July 27th 2018 at 00:00, Updated July 26th 2018 at 19:30 GMT +3
President IUhuru Kenyatta and NASA leader Raila Odinga. [Photo/Courtesy]

The Building Bridges task force that was formed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga got down to work yesterday.

That should put to rest doubts that had begun to emerge concerning the initiative given the long period of inactivity that followed the team’s composition. It should also dispel the skepticism that had started to build regarding the initiative.

Informed by the nine-point agenda that came out of the March 9 handshake between the President and the Opposition chief, the task force’s work is clearly cut out for it. And in keeping with a constitutional stipulation, the team will seek public views.

A major point on the agenda is the canker of corruption that is eating away at the very fabric of Kenyan society, even as Government steps up efforts to make corruption an expensive affair for those who indulge it.

Tribalism, nepotism and skewed public appointments, of which the Jubilee administration has been accused, continue to stick out like a sore thumb, driving a wedge between Kenyans. Yet the desire has been to unify the country.

Indeed, even as voters went to cast their ballots in last year’s elections, nobody could dispute the fact that by not addressing these issues, the country was doing the same thing and expecting different results.

And sure enough, Kenyans found themselves in the same place as in 2007 and 2013.

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If not addressed, the price of inaction would have been too high to contemplate.

It is evident that our form of democracy has failed to address the complex multi-ethnic composition of our society.

But that is not to say it has failed. In spite of all its shortcomings, it remains a better alternative and should be nurtured by whichever means. The team should therefore not seek to reinvent the wheel - they should improve it.

At the centre of this is a genuine grievance about our brand of politics that is largely exclusionist and whose mantra is encapsulated in anti-corruption crusader John Githongo’s book, 'It's Our Turn to Eat.'

The situation is so bad that the party in power will do everything – by hook or crook – to stay in power while the Opposition tries all it can to come into power. That needs to change, and it is up to the task force to change it.


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