The Standard Group Plc is a multi-media organization with investments in media platforms spanning newspaper print operations, television, radio broadcasting, digital and online services. The Standard Group is recognized as a leading multi-media house in Kenya with a key influence in matters of national and international interest.
  • Standard Group Plc HQ Office,
  • The Standard Group Center,Mombasa Road.
  • P.O Box 30080-00100,Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Telephone number: 0203222111, 0719012111
  • Email: [email protected]

In the land of abundant promises and little action

Between The Sheets

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is mandated to regulate and administer campaign financing. But due to a series of unfortunate events, the commission will not be exercising that mandate during this election cycle because the funding regulations, have not been passed.

So, individual funders and special interest groups now have unhindered access to the major political parties. This means that whoever becomes King of the Hill in August will be beholden to a variety of special interests. Special interests have an uncanny way of displacing national interests because while citizens elect their leaders through the inalienable power of the ballot, campaign financiers install leaders through the power of the purse.

Receipts and promises

Citizens have promises, campaign financiers have receipts. Receipts take you to the front of the line, whether you're a 'friend' with Sh10 million in your deep pockets or a businessman with links to some of Kenya's shadiest corruption scandals. Promises are even cheaper than talk. Take for example free secondary education. NASA says that if elected, it will meet this commitment by September this year, while Jubilee says it will be effected January 2018. Guys, the free primary education programme is a functional failure. Where is the evidence to support that this country – no matter who is in power – can roll out free anything for anyone?

Actually, scratch that. We know money can be found. A better question is: Why should we believe that the money set aside for free secondary education will not go the same way as the money that was set aside for free primary education? It is an insult to the intelligence of the voting public when politicians make such outlandish claims, based on nothing else other than the desire to influence voting patterns.

While the language and presentation of manifestos vary, the content is similar. Sample NASA's seven pillars: 1) National reconciliation and healing; 2) resolving historical injustices; 3) realising equality for women; 4) youth and other disadvantaged groups; 5) strengthening devolution; 6) transforming government, eradicating poverty and unemployment; and 7) realising social and economic rights.


Compare this with what the Jubilee promised to focus on in 2013: 1) National cohesion; 2) Security; 3) Trade and foreign affairs; 4) Sports and culture; 5) Healthcare; 6) Education; 7) Youth empowerment; and 8) Women's empowerment and social protection. More or less the same fare, with one obvious ideological difference that spotlights Raila Odinga's social democratic leanings, and comes by way of the opposition's commitment to national reconciliation, healing and the resolution of historical injustices.

It sounds good on paper, especially to the constituency of voters who are still smarting over the events of 2007-2008 and the path that led the unprecedented campaign platform of 2013. And yet, talk is cheap. The only thing cheaper is a promise, more so the kind that comes 40 days to the election.The number forty is significant. Jesus fasted for 40 days during which time Satan appeared to him and tried to tempt him.

In these last forty days, Kenyans will wonder about an economic wilderness, looking for the quickest route to the Promised Land. Unlike the Israelites, Kenyans have not been feeding on free quail and manna; rather they continue to suffer the ravaging effects of drought and famine. In these plague-like conditions, from whence comes Kenya's Joshua? Only time will tell.

By this time tomorrow, the 'Big Two' will have unveiled spanking new documents, dressed in fancy new grammar, but promising the same old campaign nonsense that they have always promised. Only once in my lifetime have I seen the fervour of a campaign turn into real time action. The year was 2002 and optimism was currency, but it was only a matter of time before the pot of gold at the end of the NARC rainbow was stolen. Now it's election time again. Silly season. Keep your wits about you because when the ink finally washes off your pinkie finger, you will need all your faculties to hold these promisers to account.

Ms Masiga is Peace and Security Editor at The Conversation Africa 

Related Topics


Recommended Articles