'Six-piece' idea misplaced in era of wise voters

It is imperative to recognise that voters are no longer the 'wajinga' politicians used to prey on. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Author and celebrated poet Munia Khan is more forthright about this reality of life that “it’s hard to befool a fool fooled so many times.” When you become a victim of political manipulation each election year, you gradually develop the knack and natural firepower to isolate and resist half-truths whenever they fly around.

Politicians thrive on lies, even petty ones that would defy your imagination. Like in Zimbabwe a few years back, President Robert Mugabe would fall asleep in front of cameras. His loyalists would then argue that the Zanu-PF strongman was not sleeping but “resting his eyelids”.

There’s a false belief somewhere up there that voters will forever remain gullible. In Kenya this year ahead of the August vote, it is heart-warming that the masses can now smell the coffee and make political decisions out of conviction and not euphoria.

This week, the surprise nomination win of fiery Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter against stiff opposition mounted by allies of Deputy President William Ruto was quite a statement. Keter is loved and loathed because he shoots from the hip and the electorate trusts him. His win in some way resembled Okoth Obado's 2013 and 2017 victories in Migori. Obado was a hard nut to crack for ODM. 

There were many surprise wins and premium tears alike in ODM and UDA. Others landed direct tickets based on opinion polls whose details remain scanty. Some critics claim the results of the opinion polls may have been cooked by party hatchet men. 

Meanwhile, several larger than life allies of the party leaders were felled by political greenhorns. It is clear the real election on August 9 will be an even more serious thunderbolt. Politics of brokerage and deal-making in boardrooms must die a sure death in Kenya and Africa at large. From what we’ve seen, embracing outright deceit from the political class has meant inviting the vice right into our very lives. It is now a way of life and a gaping hole difficult to come out of.

The more we vote for people because of what parties or tribal kingpins cajole us to do, the less we can unite to demand accountability from them. When push comes to shove, the party leaders will not be with us in the wards, constituencies and counties to experience problems arising from the inept leadership they birthed by telling us to vote a certain way.

This is why the so-called six-piece call must be rejected. In the 21st century, the six-piece idea is utterly misplaced. We can strengthen the country’s democratic potency by asking Kenyans to elect capable leaders. The real measure of a leader’s capability cannot, whatsoever, be loyalty. The tainted and non-performers should have a smooth sail at the ballot just because of the ‘six-piece’ idea. There’s party loyalty. Then there’s blind party loyalty. The latter, I say without any iota of doubt, is responsible for most of our woes.

The late Senator Otieno Kajwang once said party loyalty and fidelity are the topmost considerations in rewarding members. That as it may be, parties should not downplay the electorate's wishes.

It is imperative to recognise that voters are no longer the 'wajinga' politicians used to prey on. Let parties not force leaders down the throats of voters based on selfish and humdrum considerations such as connections and deep pockets. We deserve better. It starts with electing the right men and women to take charge of our destiny.