Win or lose, Raila and Ruto camps must put Kenya first

A campaign official is attacked by Kisii residents after they differed with his remarks in Bobasi Kisii County. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

The definition of a political party in the Political Parties (Amendment) Act of 2022 includes a Coalition Political Party. This means the two main coalitions made up of numerous political parties can turn themselves into one single political party for the ‘purpose of nominating candidates to contest elections.’

A political party is further defined as ‘an association of citizens with an identifiable ideology or programme constituted for purpose of influencing public policy.’

Its roles include enlisting members, promoting representation of women, persons with disabilities, youth, ethnic and other minorities and marginalised communities, providing voter education especially on workings of the political and electoral system; promoting and enhancing national unity; mobilising citizens to participate in political decisions and shaping and influencing public policies.

However, political parties, their candidates and supporters seem oblivious to these noble roles. Take for example, the duty to promote national unity. We expect these two broader coalitions and their supporters to raise the bar in their campaigns by focusing on issues and priorities that promote, peace, security, stability and sustainable development.

Voters and other members of our society are yearning for leaders who genuinely have their interests and aspirations at the core of their political agendas. Kenyans are hungry, thirsty, jobless, sick and can barely make ends meet. The global upheavals including the war in Ukraine and the vagaries of the Covid-19 pandemic and the political mayhem might bring us to the tipping point. We are so stretched and fragile that our politicians must tread carefully or we shall arrive at a point of no return; and, that, surely is not what we or politicians want.

What we are witnessing sends alarm bells all around. Politics of intimidation, incitement, threats, chest-thumping and personal attacks are unsustainable and a political minefield. With a history of electoral violence and of politicians with short fuses that are unmanageable, we should be wary of the rising political temperatures.

But, we have thrown caution to the wind. We cringe at the political exchanges between the two main coalitions; insults, personalised attacks, threats, intimidation and all sorts of unsubstantiated claims. We expect some finesse and courtesy among politicians. But, we get none.

A visitor would be alarmed that we are on the verge of a political meltdown. We are tottering precariously on dangerous grounds. The game of politics should not be of such high stakes.

The media must play its role of moderating political temperatures even if it means calling out politicians who threaten unity, peace and stability of Kenya. They must call them out for lying and for political dishonesty.

There is only one position for president and his deputy, since so far only male presidential candidates have emerged. What will happen on August 10th 2022?

Will either of the two presidential candidates and their supporters accept defeat for the sake of Kenya or are we going to see history repeating itself? Shall supporters of the loser in the presidential election go home and wait to fight another election, in 2027?

The political temperatures must cool down and politicians need to put interests of Kenyans first. Winning must not be a matter of life and death, literally; no one should win by all means necessary.

We need assurances by these two candidates that whatever happens, lose or win, they will not destroy our beloved country. We need assurances that they will accept defeat unconditionally like a good sport.

They must prepare their supporters on possibility of a loss; because, either has the potential to win or lose. Everyone who joins politics must come to terms with possibility of either winning or losing no matter the odds.

Some candidates cannot fathom losing but we are counting on them and their supporters to bequeath a peaceful and united Kenya to us and to themselves; come August 10th 2022; no matter the outcome.

And should they contest the outcome, they should do so peacefully and accept any judicial outcomes because any sore loser must surely hate their country.