The Kibra by-election was no ordinary contest. Bernard Imran Okoth’s victory is an indictment on the use of executive authority for extraneous purposes.
Whereas President Uhuru Kenyatta, as the political head of the Jubilee Party, anointed McDonald Mariga and took a back seat to allow Kibra voters to elect the candidate of their choice, his deputy William Ruto took a sabbatical from his executive roles and made Kibra a do-or-die affair. According to the Deputy President’s allies, a Mariga victory would have relegated Raila Odinga to political Siberia.
What is the role of the executive in a democracy? What happens when executive authority is a abused? Can government projects and resources be used to sway voters?
The term ‘executive’ has been defined in its broad and narrow forms. In its broad form, it is taken to mean all the functionaries, political power-holders (political Executive) and permanent civil servants who undertake the execution of laws and policies and run the administration of state.
In its narrow form, it is taken to mean only the Executive heads (ministers i.e. the political Executive), who head the government departments, formulate the policies and supervise the implementation of the laws and policies of the government. In the narrow form, the civil service and its administrative functions are not included in the realm of the executive.
Traditionally, only the narrow meaning used to be accepted by the political scientists. However, in modern times, the executive is defined in its broader form and it covers the political Executive, as well as the civil service.
While on the campaign trail, the Deputy President promised the residents of Kibra government projects and programmes if they were to elect Mariga as their Member of Parliament. For the ongoing projects, the second in command promised to fast track them. In their wisdom, the Kibra voters returned a negative verdict and exercised their democratic right in electing a leader of their choice. This act of political restoration from Kibra residents is significant in a number of ways. First and foremost, Mariga’s loss demonstrates that money cannot buy everything. Leadership should focus on empowering citizens to be self reliant.
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa had the audacity of advising Kibra residents to reject Imran of ODM since the Orange party is not generous. It is despicable that in this century, leaders still thrive on political handouts.
Secondly, the people of Kibra have demonstrated that outsiders cannot define their political destiny.
The DP marshaled all his foot soldiers from other parts of the country to camp in Kibra. The political tourists purported to know what was in the best interest of the residents. Among the notable tourists who were wailing louder than the bereaved are the Majority Whip in the National Assembly Benjamin Washiali, former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale and Lang’ata MP Nixon Korir. Listening to the three legislators speak, one would imagine that Mumias East, Ikolomani and Lang’ata are model constituencies. If these are the people Ruto will be relying on to fight a presidential contest, the race is as good as lost.
Thirdly, harambees cannot be used to develop the country. When the concept of harambee was introduced after independence, it was meant to unite the nation through positive contribution to society.
The DP has turned harambees into political baits. It is unfortunate that as part of their development record, leaders still cite the harambees they have attended. In a span of two months the DP toured Kibra on several occasions for harambees.
It is this mockery of the poor and disadvantaged that is killing our economy.
On Kibra, President Kenyatta acted like a statesman. As a symbol of national unity, the president played his political role: Anointed his party’s candidate and that was all. He was not going to be drawn into divisive politics that would cloud the real issues. This is how members of the Executive are to behave in a civilised society.
- The writer is a lawyer
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