For any long-term political strategy - especially a radical change - to work, it must receive the support of the people. When President Uhuru Kenyatta launched his war on corruption earlier in the year, many of us met it with a collective shrug. We have heard this record on far too many occasions in the past, we told ourselves. Some thought it was a political ploy or merely a distraction. Months later, the seriousness and ruthless dedication that the President built have shown towards ridding our society of corruption and mismanagement is impressive and has surprised many.
I had seen and heard too much and read too many unfulfilled promises by senior Kenyan politicians over the years to be largely unmoved by this latest attempt. Nevertheless, like many, I have been proven wrong.
Thankfully, it seems as if President Kenyatta, in the way he has conducted the war on corruption, has encouraged many supporters and opponents alike.
According to a poll by Infotrak and Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) released a few days ago, 94 per cent of the 1,538 respondents welcomed the arrest of individuals implicated in corrupt dealings. Around half of all respondents were said to be optimistic that the country is headed in the right direction, with most citing peace (56 per cent) and the government’s recent purge on corruption (26 per cent) as the main factor.
A majority of Kenyans (87 per cent) supported the political truce between President Kenyatta and NASA leader Raila Odinga, which has led to even greater effects and effort against those engaged in corruption.
These are pretty impressive figures for a nation as divided and as cynical as ours. Our societal cynicism has sadly become ingrained into us, largely as a result of political and ethnic rivalries that have far too frequently involved violence and bloodshed.
When President Kenyatta reached his hand out to Raila, not because of international or even significant local pressure, to ensure the success of his war on corruption and Big Four agenda, we felt something unprecedented, if not historic.
This has proved that the agenda and the goal were bigger than the politics. The intention of the ‘handshake’ and the graft war was to make Kenya better. The war on corruption will eradicate wastage in the system and programmes that help the people are fulfilled, the Big Four agenda will improve our lives and the handshake between President Kenyatta and Raila sets a very important message of peace and conciliation we can all use. A few months ago, Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana said President Kenyatta’s war on corruption was lonely. It is true that many politicians still look for cracks to further their narrow aims or try and ride on its success for their personal advancement.
Nevertheless, this recent opinion poll demonstrates that Uhuru is very much not alone. The people are with him. We see what he is trying to do, even if we were skeptical at first. Our national cynicism is being replaced with something else, something we have had in short supply in recent decades – hope.
There is now hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Kenya is moving in the right direction and although only around a half of all respondents admit to this at the moment, this is a relatively high percentage considering what we have faced in our past.
I am certain that if Uhuru continues on this path of ridding our nation of corruption, ensuring our lives are improving and stretching out his hand in peace, then more and more Kenyans will join the cheering section.
As a former doubter, I have been studiously engrossed in the small details and looked for ways to challenge and deconstruct the President’s plans. Through my skepticism, I have now become an admirer and a supporter.
Kenya is moving in the right direction and I now stand proudly at President Kenyatta’s side as he navigates our nation into better but unchartered waters.
The writer is an expert in international business.