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Integrity and leadership in Kenya

COMMENTARY
By Tania Ngima | June 28th 2016

NAIROBI: I have come to the conclusion that if anyone has a penchant for turning calamity into fanfare, it is Kenyans. One minute we are outraged at the trajectory the country is taking, and the next we have turned it into a circus.

For the longest time we have expressed our displeasure at what we term as hate speech and the political class using the platforms we accorded them to turn us against each other.

In a perfect world we would all be rational, critical thinking human beings who do not allow for our sensibilities to be swayed and do not take what we are told at face value, but seek to identify the motives behind the words.

But, alas, it is not a perfect world and we are more susceptible to suggestion than we are sensible, so let’s just own up to the fact that this, being incited by people who have no interest at all in our welfare, will not change.

Yes, we are part of the problem. This also means we can be part of the solution. But back to circuses. The law finally woke up and saw it fit to lock up the political players accused of unsuitable utterances; great.

And then the narrative quickly turned into tales of shared hardship, interjected with funny anecdotes about how to get into survival mode when in jail.

About how concerted effort would be taken to ensure that said jails were more habitable to those who find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

As if anyone, whether you have spent a day or night in prison, does not know the deplorable state of our State-funded institutions.

Even I cannot pretend to be oblivious to the state of our local prisons, hospitals, schools and any other Government-funded institutions that only cater to the populace. But does it not say more that an elected leader can claim not to know of the conditions therein unless they spend a few unfortunate nights there? What is that Kenyan phrase we quip, ‘Tuko pamoja’?

Enough said. Not everything needs to be turned into a political circus, and I think it is highly insulting to our collective intelligence to act as if now, over shared meals, all is hunkydory and we can go about our daily lives.

If we recall, this undue influence that politicians have become accustomed to abusing was exactly what snowballed into the 2008 post-election violence.

In fact, the guideline for this kind of conduct is enshrined in the Constitution and it clearly defines the rules of engagement.

When we voted in the 2010 Constitution of Kenya, we were all unanimous in the kind of future we saw for the country.

One led by integrity, ethical behaviour and leadership that put the interests of the country above those of individuals and their ilk.

We were, and still are hopeful that one day the rule of law will govern us, as opposed to the empty rhetoric that we are continuously subjected to.

However, despite being one of the few countries that has a whole Chapter governing the behaviour of leadership, and the parameters for determining their conduct, I can understand why Kenyans feel as though the clauses are not worth the paper they are written on.

Chapter 6, in a bid to enhance transparency in the country’s governance, pays significant attention to Leadership and Integrity.

It goes further to state that anyone found in contravention of the conduct laid out in the act is barred from either seeking or holding public office.

At this point I must make a disclaimer. I am not a lawyer, and I do not pretend to understand confusing legal-speak.

But I can read a chapter and understand the spirit with which is it meant. I could therefore do without legal experts writing to me to explain just how naïve my evaluation is in my interpretation.

In 2015, the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) released a statement regarding increasing breaches of Chapter 6.

The statement cited numerous acts of serious misconduct and breach of said Chapter by State Officers who continued to not only hold public office, but against whom no legal action had been taken.

This marked a slippery slope whose effects we are still witnessing regarding the selection application of the law.

And while we know exactly where the CIC found itself for pointing out the obvious, as Kenyans we are still here and we are still wondering what happened to the instrument that we had put our hope in.

As we approach the 2017 elections, there does not seem to be any likelihood that public officials accused and even proved guilty of malfeasance and transgressions are slowing down in their bid to continue representing Kenyans at the ballot.

In fact, it is already obvious that legislators can see trouble coming their way from a mile away, and are hell bent on scuttling the road to a ‘free and fair’ election, as we stand by and laugh at the jokes that we are not aware they are making at our expense.

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