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Crisis has exposed void in Kenya's leadership

By Mark Bichachi | April 8th 2020

Covid-19 is currently devastating the world. Economies are facing eminent recessions, workers have lost jobs and hospitals are either overwhelmed or waiting to be overwhelmed. The situation is dire and the seriousness of the pandemic cannot be overstated.

Because of the danger that Covid-19 poses, nations across the globe have taken stringent measures to contain the contagion.

But ugly as it is, Covid-19 has brought out realities of the Kenyan experience that are quite good and worthy of note.

First, we must thank Covid-19 for successfully shutting the mouths of certain politicians in our country. With the mouths of these politicians shut, it is easy to tell that Kenyans are peace-loving people; that it is these motormouths who make Kenya look like a war zone.

This status should remain so, even after Covid-19 is defeated. Politicians with poisonous tongues should remain silent and allow the rest of Kenya to move forward. Turns out their presence is neither missed nor needed. Oh, how I wish we could say good riddance!

For years we have begged for a cessation of campaign politics. Now we know how focused a nation can be when politicians keep quiet. Today, Kenyans are focused on healthcare, the economy and education. They are finally asking the right questions and getting the right responses every day from the CSs and the president.

This is what a democracy should be about - leadership addressing the concerns of mwananchi. The idea that politics is about endlessly singing 2022 should now be a bygone affair. In fact, the first politician to mention 2022 earlier than six months to the election should be deemed to have committed a capital offence and face the hangman's noose.

It is sacrilege that to date, parliamentarians enjoy their full unmerited salaries while having failed completely to step up to the plate. They have given us no ideas or strategies on how to deal with Covid-19. They have failed miserably. We now know that leaders are not the ones who shout the loudest. They are supposed to be able to think, strategise and execute. But these three words are foreign jargon in the ears of most of our so-called leaders. We can't afford to continue voting for those who are demonstrably dumber than us just because they praise our favourite tribal god.

Parliament should by now have barred Kenya Power, water utility companies and internet service providers from cutting off supply to homes and offices that can’t pay. They should have, by now, come up with a framework to shield the urban population from landlords and offered landlords a framework for recovering unpaid rent. They should have, but they haven't; they lack the wherewithal and temerity. Their bravery is reserved for insults only.

Instead we have leaders who are experts at campaigning through charity. Covid-19 has successfully shown the impotence of most of our leaders and Kenyans need to be wiser because of it. Their branded donations are now a drop in the ocean of Covid-19. They need more than publicity stunts and they have nothing more to offer.

Most of our so-called prophets must now also review their titles down. No longer are they to be relied on. They were at the forefront of anointing the 2022 'chosen ones', telling us everyday who the chosen one is. They can see 2022 but they could not see 2020? Why would we ever trust them again? Why was 2022 so important but 2020 and Covid-19 not? Was Covid-19 not important enough for God to warn us? It is also sad to note that the chosen ones for 2022 are now quiet and clueless on how to respond to Covid-19. Of what use is David to Israel if he can't deal with Goliath?

Will they magically become more efficient when elected in 2022? I wager not. The evidence is clear, we have precious few in our political class that can handle the weight of leadership, but we have very many that can handle the privilege of leadership. Most of our 2022 candidates seek the privilege of leadership and want none of the weight of leading us.

These rally leaders sang how the economy was on its knees. For the sake of political mileage they declared our economy was on a massive decline. Now Kenyans know what a bad economy is, they know what it is to be in a recession. But the leaders who cried wolf before are nowhere to be seen now that Covid-19 is here. They are all in their homes, tails between their legs, clueless and rudderless.

When it is all said and done, Kenya has a void in its leadership. A void that Covid-19 has made painfully clear. Love him or hate him, our president was right - we needed to have shut up, stopped unnecessary political rallies and focused on delivery to the people. Today, we would have had more resources to tackle Covid-19 but instead we had a lot of Tangatanga and Kieleweke, all which we can’t eat or depend on to carry us through this season.

Mr Bichachi is a communications consultant

Covid 19 Time Series


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