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We must say ‘no’ to bad governance

By Tania Ngima | February 16th 2017 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

I do not often dwell on the same topic two weeks in a row, unless there are extenuating circumstances.

But after I spent almost half a day last week responding to the tons of emails that I received regarding the article agitating for us to stop paying taxes, I believe it would be remiss not to give these sentiments a platform.

This is an open letter to the country’s aspiring and incumbent leaders. Yes, I know that you once declared newspapers only good for food related attributes but I trust you now think otherwise given the alacrity with which you address Kenyans through this medium.

Only after these conditions are fulfilled should normal programming resume, and certainly no monies should be paid retrospectively.

For one, Kenyans have made peace with taxes, something I’m sure KRA will be pleased to read. Please note I said have made peace with, not that they are happy about it. In fact, one reader had a suggestion for the next eight months.

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He says that we should set up a special trust where our taxes can be deposited and create a set of conditions for access.

The first is the withdrawal of the demand that legislators have put forth to be paid a total of Sh3.3billon to cover the period between September 2017 and March 2018.

That our lawmakers are demanding to be paid for a period when they will not be working is both immoral and fraudulent.

If we want to see the calibre of leaders we have in this country, and whose interests they have at heart, we need to go no further than this particular instance.

Keep in mind that these are the same people who are asking you to vote them back in so that they ‘can continue the work they started’.

His second suggestion is an immediate return-to-work formula addressing the health crisis that, months later, is still holding the country hostage.

As sometimes happens with hung juries, we should demand that both the Government and healthcare representatives are locked in a room and do not leave until they have a signed and irrevocable agreement that transcends the Government of the day.

Another reader contends that all this talk around campaign promises is nothing but public relations. As someone who has worked with the national and county governments, he understands the spin masters and how effective they are at getting our attention when they want something.

We simply need to look at where they are coming from, what they have put resources into fighting for and that will give us inkling into what to expect from them in the future. After all, it is true when we say that you put your money where your mouth is.

So, what have your leaders been spending money on, both in the recent past and when they first took office? Another reader called ours a self-centered jurisdiction and a conduit of economic crimes. Need I say more?

Email upon email say the same thing – that as a country we are headed in the wrong direction, that we truly are in the throes of state capture and that there is a helplessness that has become the hallmark of everyone from the hawkers on the street to blue and white collar workers.

Of course, if you are part of or affiliated to the cartels, you have nothing to fear. Your future is secure.

As I write this, we are coming to the close of voter registration in preparation for the polls later this year.I have reiterated this many times, I hope that everyone who feels strongly about our leadership or the lack of it will exercise their civil right.

However, I have also said that after listening to scores of Kenyans express their frustrations and their desire, yet lack belief in being able to change the status quo, I am chagrined but I choose to respect the diversity of views.

What I do know though, is that we are not as helpless as we think we are. And while the range of tools at our disposal does not encompass those as ambitious as refusing to pay our taxes, we do have power to say no to poor governance.

I know that if we go to the polls and find ourselves in this same frustrated space that we are in today, we can refuse to be victims of circumstance.

We do not have to wait every five years to make our voices heard, in my opinion five years is entirely too long to watch our existence being pilfered away.

I do not have all the answers at this point. But what I do know is that our dissatisfaction needs to go beyond our gripes on social media, beyond the articles we pen and beyond our small circles.

We need to figure out how to get our will and our wishes exercised and the post-August; the next five years will be testament to how badly we want a better life for ourselves and our children.


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