Address Kenya’s governance issues through socio-political means
Aristotle said the best flute should go to the best flute player. When asked why, he replied, “The best flutes should go to the best flute players because that’s what flutes are for - to be played well. The purpose of flute playing is to produce the best music.”
One would ask, “How do you get the best flute player?’’ The answer would then be you let them play, you interview for the best!
What We Lost
That is what we have lost in Kenya, the opportunity to correctly interview men and women for office-The Presidency and legislature. We must not be dismayed that our country is grappling with over taxation, corruption, poaching, deforestation, tribal clashes and may others. Did we interview properly?
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The art of democratic debate has been killed and for that reason Kenyans cannot clearly interview and hear those that offer themselves to be elected for office but are left with noise and insults during campaigns. In 2013 for example, the issues of Mau and ICC were used to whip up emotions and not really discussed to find out who had real solutions that are much needed in the society.
It would surprise everyone that the people in the Mau were told how Raila Odinga was the one behind evicting them but those telling them did not give real solutions.5 years on they are being evicted in the most inhumane way. When you watch police officers clobber them and power-saw their houses down, you would think the force has descended on a terrorism camp.
It is apparent that our society has turned into market. Money means more affluence. The best answers to give in an interview for a political office in Kenya are handouts and last names. But unfortunately the money is increasingly governing the access to essentials of good life; talk of healthcare services, education, transport, food etc. The handouts have created inequality.
The people elected to office either do not care or buy their way to amass more wealth through unscrupulous means. Kenya has not had a single government go out of office without a multibillion shillings scandal. It is either money or resources. Talk about the Ruaraka Land saga, Tatu city saga, NYS series, Sugar and mercury. How fast we have forgotten Anglo-leasing, Goldenberg, Afya house, SGR and many others!
In California USA, financial incentives were at one time introduced to motivate pupils to read books. They would give $2 to an 8 year old for every book they read. It motivated them to read but they read the shortest books available. The money was killing the intrinsic motivation which should be to learn and know more, thirst for knowledge other than easy money. The Kenyan voter, who is the employer has been impatiently waiting for the elections only to end up making decisions based on either their tribe alliances or handouts.
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What if we had good leadership in place and the 10.9 billion lost in NYS 2 was allocated to the Judiciary that now is almost paralyzed?, What if the 5 billion that Afya house was not able to account for was allocated to counties to equip hospitals?
Fund Election Campaigns
We have heard rhetoric of how the leadership will fight corruption for far too many terms. We must change the course of our country. Kenyans must take over campaign sponsorship and not allow men like Rashid Sajjad take over. When Sajjad together with Fahim Yassin Twaha bankrolled KANU, they became demigods that imported duty free sugar without being questioned. But you must know that our sugar companies were then being strangled and people losing jobs.
It means if we don’t take over parties and sponsor them, someone will and that someone will control what happens. Martin Gilens, a Professor of Politics at Princeton University conducted a research on the relationship between decisions made by government and Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens. It was clear that elites and interest groups influenced every decision that was made by government while the ordinary citizen had none of his/her taken to account. The only reason is interest groups finance their campaigns.
Control and participate in party nomination
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The other way of taking over is participating actively in nominations. If we get parties nominating people that we do not want then we end up with choices to pick from that can’t help us but those that nominate. William Magear Tweed once said, “I don't care who does the electing, so long as I get to do the nominating.” We must not only participate partially but join parties as members. If we want an independent legislature that is not summoned to State House or Orange House to be schooled on how to vote on bills, then we must take over nominations.
Revive Issue based debates
Political debates must be issue based. We must demand answers to real issues. Because no sooner will they assume office than will introduce funny taxes, steal your money, strangle the judiciary, and evict you from your home without real solutions. Your tribe will only matter when voting.
In 1942 at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, it was time to set exams and the Assistant to Prof Albert Einstein noticed something unusual in the paper set. He had this question for Prof Albert, “Isn’t this the same exam you gave this class last year?” “Yes, yes it is.” replied Einstein. Emboldened, the Assistant asked, “But how can you give the same exam to this class two years in a row?” “Because,” Einstein replied, “the answers have changed.” Kenyans must change the answers to the same question come 2022.The power to change Kenya belongs to you.
Raila OdingaAnglo-leasingAfya houseGoldenbergSGRICCMauProfessor of Politics at Princeton UniversityMartin GilensAverage CitizensInterest Groups