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Defend politicians at your own peril, they don’t care about you

CLAY MUGANDA
By Clay Muganda | March 21st 2021

That Kenyans voters are forgetful is never in doubt. It has been said in some quarters that their collective poor memory is a coping mechanism because some of the experiences they have gone through as a nation are traumatising and better forgotten, deliberately.

That might not be gospel truth, but it does not sound like a lie because living, or just surviving in Kenya, is increasingly becoming an extreme sport, or even something worse. Early this week, Kenyans were hit by an increase in fuel prices, and that means an increase in cost of items and services across the board.

The sharp rise in fuel prices is occasioned by a legislation passed by elected representatives not bothered by economic projections showing how bad the economy was performing or how slow it was growing and thus, how the rise in cost of energy will affect the citizenry.

When the State energy regulatory body made the announcement, there was outrage all over and one would have thought the revolution Kenyans have been talking about for eons would eventually materialise. But no. Again, their anger dissipated, or rather they forgot about their anger faster than they got angry and from now on, they will just whine, and sulk, helplessly as they dig deeper in to their shallow pockets to pay for basic goods and services.

Almost every day, Kenyan voters are slapped with new taxes either directly, or in the form of a financial scandal which translates in to more taxes because the hole left in the public coffers will have to be filled.

To make matters worse, their elected representatives do not care and see them as voting machines — which in a way they are anyway — than people whose standards of living need to be improved or taxpayers whose labour should be rewarded.

Kenyan voters, the taxpayers, are never seen as a people who need good services but are considered a burden so much so that they are used as a reason whenever Members of Parliament and other elected representatives demand more money or spend needlessly.

When MPs and other elected representatives want to increase their salaries, perks and allowances, they use the voters as an excuse. They claim most of their money is spent on school fees, hospital bills and funerals of their voters children and relatives.

In essence, they say, they are pauperised by the voters, and even the extra monies they demand, end up in the tills of their voters’ creditors and not in their overflowing bank accounts in and outside Kenya.

When they go for rendezvous abroad, they claim their aim is to learn how to manage the country’s finances, and thus help Kenyans because they will know how to put in place measures to check unnecessary spending by other arms of government and ensure that no money is stolen or misappropriated.

This they say even when they travel to exotic locations at a time when the economy has flat-lined and Kenyans are almost selling their body organs to make ends meet.

Do not forget that their five-year term is almost coming to an end — does it mean that for over three years they did not know how to manage the country’s finances?

Or if they knew and just went for a refresher course, how come the results of their previous work cannot be felt and public funds are still getting stolen or misappropriated?

As a matter of fact, the people who leave holes in public coffers are not foreigners, and if they are, they have collaborators within the corridors of power and governance. The thieves are elected representatives and their cronies, people who have never seen a public purse they did not want to snatch or whose contents they did not want to empty in to their own pockets.

It is likely that they go for these courses to learn how to fleece the public and cover their tracks. The biggest thieves in elective positions never get convicted because they know how to conceal evidence or mess it up by paying off witnesses or eliminating them.

When they are fingered, they often claim it is political witch hunt, and their constituency, made up of the taxpayers they fleece, and who cannot make ends meet because of corruption, scream that their leader is being persecuted for having differing political views.

Ideally, Kenyan voters, the people who suffer because elected representatives have decided to shortchange them, deliberately forget who is making them suffer, and defend the thieves.

This mentality of deliberately forgetting goes further than just defending politicians who are caught in corrupt deals. They vote for them too so much so that the running joke that being a criminal is the prerequisite for getting elected in Kenyan politics is a reality, and it is not funny.

Whether deliberately forgetting crimes committed against them by elected representatives is a coping mechanism or not, Kenyan voters have to snap out of that state — it is pointless to scream about wanting change yet they are not ready to change.

-The writer is an editor at The Standard

@mqhlay

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