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National government must care for the interest of all

By Elias Mokua | April 29th 2021
President Uhuru Kenyatta today chairing a Cabinet Meeting at State House, Nairobi. [Courtesy]

Resource distribution in this country is at the absolute discretion of who runs the National Government. Governors and Parliament, who should have a say, play a secondary role from the look of the ongoing political realignments. Consequently, it seems, whoever wants development in their area should negotiate with prospective State House occupants. 

This raises several questions. Is it constitutionally right that every tribe or region should stand up to fight for its interests at the national level? Or perhaps this is a moral question. So, on what moral basis does a group of honourable members stand in public to demand a share of government post 2022 General Election in the would-be winner regime?

Arguably, to fight for political power should not be equated with a campaign to get a licence to determine national resource distribution at will. One would assume that the National Government takes care of the interests of every part of the country. With the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution, small tribes, the historically marginalised people mostly in Northern Kenya, and those excluded from enjoying the fruits of independence because of their political stand would, ideally, need not pray for benevolence of the National Government. The activation of the Equalisation Fund in the Constitution was meant to lift those who are economically disadvantaged.

However, it turns out that, like in past general elections, tribal and regional groupings are parading themselves with demands for the would-be prospective presidential winners. Fifty MPs from the East, 70 from the South, some 20 from the West, 110 from the North and another 220 from wherever are all positioning themselves to access the high table with a litany of demands. What exactly informs their behaviour?

Tellingly, the National Government provides services based on the capacity of tribe. If the government was to be informed by the concerns of the people’s representatives, the governors and parliamentarians, and purpose resources on need, there will be no basis for honourable members parading themselves before cameras or before presidential candidates. But this is not the case in our country. The constitution is one thing while the reality on how resources are distributed is another, going by the behaviour of those seeking power.  

Here is the bad news. In a game of resource struggles and fights, the strongest in terms of strategy will always win. Strategy is not necessarily ethical, least of all in a corrupt country like ours.

The 2022 polls is already taking the shape of who has the capacity to mobilise tribes and regions with the outcome of sharing the national resources on the strength of how each ally dug in during the campaigns. Small tribes and regions would better be advised to learn how to kiss boot.

It still seems that voter numbers matter in spite of how the Constitution addresses this dark side of our history. The high table is clearly set for “by invitation only.” “Johnny-come-latelies” know their place - opposition benches - which are seen by the public as disgraced.  

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Reading from the history of slave trade where men sold off other men, where the strategically well-equipped advantaged by superior military skills ran over poor Africans, we risk turning sections of the country as masters over others. 

-Dr Mokua is Executive Director, Loyola Centre for Media and Communications 

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