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Let politicians tear each other but they shouldn't leave us in pieces

By Elias Mokua | August 4th 2021

Elias Mokua, Executive director, Loyola Centre for Media and Communications. [File, Standard]

Politicians have no ethical regard for us commoners. They cheat us. Lie to us. Promise tonnes of economic boom even when they know very well that they do not believe a thing about their promises. They also know how to evade responsibility just about election time. Everyone points fingers at the fella above “where the buck stops".

That is why I love it when politicians go for each other where justified. As long as they tear each other in their quarters and leave us in peace, I won’t mind bare-knuckle tackles. They should never leave the political wrestling stage without bruises. Let them trade jabs and kicks. But, please don’t spill any blood.

Well, politicians tell us politics is dirty. They also tell us that in politics the end justifies the means. So, gentlemen and honourable ladies, throw strong kicks at each other. Expose each other. Hit each other hard. Dig in into one another's history and tell us what you know. Wash your dirty linen in public. We, the audience, will be there to cheer.

However, shouldn't the dirty politics have some degree of moral decency? Some honourable lady recently addressed a crowd saying something like “… in 2007, the bull could not impregnate a cow...In 2013 it could not…in 2017 it could not … so why should we think in 2022 it will impregnate?” Can’t get dirtier, can it? Highly sexualised language seems to be the main communication strategy to drive point home. Must we sink this low?

That is just a by the way.

Back to the main point. Away from the demeaning and demonising language politicians use on each other, power balance is best attained when candidates go neck to neck. If one candidate is way too strong for the challenger, we end up with some little god. Opposition voice gets suffocated. The guy in power can do whatever they want.

Nusu mkate

Political power balance is necessary for development. It benefits mwananchi. One reason why the Mwai Kibaki regime was fairly successful is because the loyalty in the nusu mkate government was divided almost equally to the “co-presidents”. That worked to our advantage as each side aimed to outperform the other. For once, freedom of speech was enhanced more than any other time before.

This is the basis on which we stand to gain if the good-mannered Musalia Mudavadi and the seemingly bitter Kalonzo Musyoka do not become top-up presidential candidates. Top up presidential candidates simply run not necessarily as spoilers but with the aim of joining whoever would need that tipping vote to form the government.

It really doesn’t matter which side of the two-horse race – Raila Odinga and William Ruto – they choose to support. As things stand, regrettably there is no such a thing as a Third Force. Just hot air.

Mudavadi and Kalonzo should just dig in and tear into their perceived competitors. But beyond that, they should really have an agenda to sell. Character assassination is not enough to run a presidential campaign. What is your agenda? Is it on the lips of every Kenyan voter?

I admire Mudavadi’s boldness in saying that the main problem in Kenya is mismanagement of resources at the top of government. He should throw a few killer jabs at whoever is responsible. Break down figures on that mismanagement. Show us what difference it would have done to mwananchi. Show us the culprit. Don’t speak in parables. Didn’t you say politics is dirty?

Mudavadi and Kalonzo have a massive duty to size up for us the candidature of both Raila and Ruto. No one knows better who these candidates are than the two great men. A peaceful election is our daily prayer. Give us reasons to know whom to peacefully vote for.

I hope Mudavadi and Kalonzo don’t position themselves as mere top-up presidential candidates.

Dr Mokua is executive director, Loyola Centre for Media and Communications

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