Uhuru, Raila unity shouldn’t blind us from task ahead

With two weeks to the end of an eventful 2018, a few home truths may have to be digested. It’s been quite a rough path for ordinary Kenyans who became cannon fodder in a system that refused to inspire hope. Too many battles were fought in the year.

While we won some, tried our best in others and failed in most, Kenyans’ faith in their leaders waned and the love for the republic lurched. From two sham elections last year and the extra-judicial killings that followed, plunder of funds, the senseless clashes in some regions and the debt spree to tribalism, the script has been all too familiar. Then there was the fuel tax saga that skinned the poor alive.

Patriotism and defending what you believe can be a complex thing. Sometimes we win wars not for being patriotic but because of collective strength. This is why as the year closes, we should examine what ails us, look at each other in the eye and hold a candid conversation.

Real push for change must begin with honest acknowledgement of failures of some of the country’s most critical stakeholders. In 2018, religious leaders appallingly lost their spine in what resembled total State takeover. The Opposition died a hasty death, the government perfected the art of fumbling and a superficial unity bid started in the name of building bridges after the March 9 hand shake. Parliament refused to live to its mandate due to greed. MPs accepted bribes and used committee summons for selfish gains.  

Let’s look at the religious groups ‘score card’ in 2018. Robert Short, an American sports team owner and politician once said the church is the great “lost and found” department. It’s true in our context. They became more indifferent and principally unpredictable.

Religious groups proposed radical measures, including the initiation of constitutional reforms to provide for a new governance structure that includes president, deputy president, prime minister and two deputy premiers. Under the dialogue reference group, they also called for reduction in numbers of MPs to rescue the country from being mortgaged by international creditors and China as the debt burden disfigures our economic standing.

Last week, they capped it all by raising the red flag over corruption, saying we lose at least Sh2 billion to graft networks every day. Good ideas. However, press statements alone without the needed push never makes a difference.

Talk and no action

If your actions don’t live up to your words, then you shouldn’t speak. Author Rasheed Ogunlaru captures it with his famous quote: “In leadership, life and all things it’s far wiser to judge people by their deeds than their speech - their track record rather than their talk.”

There’s little doubt that Opposition chiefs Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka have taken up an active cheerleading role in Jubilee. Even in the wake of massive graft and bad governance, Raila, the whistleblower, mellowed. There’s no an alternative voice. In our time now, the common good of the masses has been relegated to the back burner. Then comes the building bridges initiative. What bridges are being built? Ask any Kenyan on the streets today about what ails his beloved country, he will single out tribalism, graft and electoral injustices. Gobbling up resources ostensibly to collect views on building bridges is insincere to say the least.

There can never be pretense about Kenya’s deep-seated challenges including historical injustices. The graft ghost is now bolder. Some of those sitting at the high table know who the tenderprenuers are. They dine with them. Kenyans are losing patience. President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila’s public camaraderie shouldn’t make us to forget our challenges, bury our heads in the sand and wait for the unknown to happen.

-The writer is an editor at The Standard

Twitter: @markoloo  

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PatriotismTaxPresident Uhuru KenyattaRaila Odinga