What we must demand of our aspiring leaders

Now that electioneering positioning, touting for alliances and political propaganda are mounting towards the 2022 General election; we, the voters, should start announcing the kind of Curriculum Vitae (CV) that we are after from candidates.

The right candidates, especially for governorship and presidency, should meet the following criteria.

First, it must be people who run positive campaigns. I do not know of politicians who run positive campaigns in this country.

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Our specialties are in negative campaigns. Their opening remarks, main explanations and closing remarks are about a candidate in the opposite camp, who they turn into a punching bag. It is as if campaigns are about yelling insults.

Demonising opponents is a priority for political camps in this country. Unfortunately, voters love negative campaigns.

Perhaps this is because there is nothing positive in the campaigns we have been exposed to in the past.

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While we appreciate that negative campaigning is part of strategic political electioneering, it should not be the platform on which a candidate worth their good selves run.

A positive campaign is run by a self-confident, self-driven and passionate candidate with a distinctive difference on how to improve the lives of the electorate.

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Such a candidate has the charm to make voluntary followers without negative propaganda.

A positive minded candidate cuts a niche. The closest we can think of in recent Kenya is former President Mwai Kibaki.

Most endowed

He largely dwelt on his agenda. He wanted to transform the country in his own way.

He had no much time to dwell in long negative campaigns even though, on the down side, his agents glorified themselves before the electorate with negative campaigns on their main challenger.

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Second, a candidate for a senior post should be someone with a lean budget for electioneering campaign.

Yes, it sounds self-defeating, but wait. Obama was not the most endowed candidate in the US 2008 presidential campaigns.

It is the Americans who saw vision, charisma and leadership gift in him and decided to contribute in cash and kind to make him president.

In Kenya, we have seen some candidates with modest income being elected.

Those who have lived long enough may remember one Martin Shikuku.

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He was a man of extreme slender means, but his Butere people saw value in him not only for his constituency, but for Kenya at a time opposing the powers that be was a risky venture.

Now, it will be fallacious to argue that candidates with slender means make better leaders. It is that contrary experiences are not very common, regrettably.

Third, a strong candidate has to be someone a voter should, in the flash of a second, say what the candidate stands for.

If a voter scratches to name the strengths of a candidate, that is already a bad start. Voters may have a background of where a candidate has worked and the many good things a CV provides.

Personal interests

But, a top candidate is Magufuli–like (blinding ourselves momentarily on his fear for freedom of speech).

Mention President John Pombe Magufuli of Tanzania and every Tanzanian voter will tell you who he is: A performer who loathes corruption.

He may not be in the right party, depending on where you stand on Tanzanian politics, but give it to him, he is a performer.

Fourth, a good candidate must be one who reasons well. Charlatans and sycophants should not be mistaken for people with good reason.

Even the devil reasons when tempting people. Eloquent speech-delivery should also not be mistaken and substituted for good reasoning.

Good reasoning is about listening, respect to the electorate, discerning choices, consulting and placing the reason of being elected above personal interests.

Plato, the great ancient Greek philosopher, was convinced that a good leader must be a philosopher because a philosopher reasons well.

A candidate who reasons well knows the consequences of their choices and often aims to make and achieve right decisions. Even if they were to fail, at least you can reason with a candidate who reasons well.

Last, on the must-have list of qualifications to successful candidature, one should demonstrate beyond doubt that the lives of other people matter.

Losing a single life is one-too-many. A candidate without informed conscience is dangerous to be in charge of the security of not only a county but the whole country.

One lunatic can cause a lot of chaos in a market. One non-conscientious candidate given power can put to risk other people’s lives.

The fear of God must be the least denominator for a worthy candidate.

Dr Mokua lectures on Media and Communications Studies

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2022 General election