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ELECTION 2022

Worry more about who will be in opposition, not State House

ELIAS MOKUA
By Elias Mokua | May 5th 2022 | 3 min read
State House building, Nairobi [File, Standard]

Between electing the fifth President of the Republic of Kenya and electing a good Opposition in the August poll, we are better off concentrating on who becomes the Opposition Chief.

We know the job description of a President. Moreover, it is very easy to predict what a Ruto or a Raila presidency will look like. One can easily predict the Cabinet line-up for both leading presidential candidates. Other than a surprise name or two popping up, a Raila Presidency will award the senior positions to the parties supporting him rather than individuals.

A Ruto presidency will reward more individuals than parties. While a Raila presidency will be more collegial, a Ruto presidency will be characterised by a strong centre of power to which and from which everyone must conform. 

Besides, we know the promises both candidates have made and know that whoever gets to office will attempt to implement one or two of everything they have promised. The larger part of the manifestos is hot air. We also know that the winner will most definitely come up with other big agenda in which some supportive ‘tenderpreneurs’ will reap. How else will they pay back their campaign financiers?

Seriously speaking our concern should not be on who wins the presidency. Our energies should be focused on who becomes the opposition chief. The many talk shows in the media should spend precious airtime and print space on who will be the people’s watchman.

First, we know that the number one problem in our country is corruption. Whoever wins, if left unchecked by a ruthless Opposition will get down to the business of intensifying corruption rather than fighting it. 

I don’t know who will be the next President but of the two leading aspirants we have to weigh who has the energy to make the government accountable.

In part, our elections turn violent because the premium of presidency assures the winner of limitless access to taxpayer’s money. The same way we are dead serious with whom we want to be president, we should worry about who becomes the Opposition.

Second, our vote should be on the person we trust will live up to the “President in Waiting” bill. We have demonised the Opposition in the past, demeaned the person and the office of the chief of opposition to a point many voters consider it an office for losers.

Somehow, we have reduced the value of the Opposition to “back-benchers” in a negative sense. Yet, without a solid, respected and high-energy Opposition, the government of the day regardless of who is in power will slumber. We will achieve tangible development faster if enthusiasts run the Opposition.

Third, the Opposition, as the “alternative government” offers alternative policies to ensure government policies are properly reasoned. As voters, we make better choices when casting votes if we see an “alternative government” that has performed really well by presenting policies that are superior to those of the government.

We need to identify with policies that advance our nationhood. Only a hungry Opposition will provide that, knowing that their performance will attract votes.

As it is, we have fallen back to personality cult on whom we want to vote president forgetting that we actually vote in the Opposition. In countries like ours, a good Opposition can deliver, albeit indirectly, more than the government itself.

Dr Mokua is Executive Director, Loyola Centre for Media and Communication

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