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2022 General Election should be a turning point for our country

OPINION
By Abdilatif Maalim Adan | August 2nd 2021

As the political class campaigns across the country, there is a heightened tempo that risks polarising the country as the date for the 2022 General Election nears. Elections are important but they should serve the society by bringing us together.

For far long, our politics has been defined by the greed of a few who leave the rest in misery. It is time for the political class and even the ordinary folk to take a new approach to the way we do business in this critical period.

Over the years, Kenya has become a vibrant democracy in a region that has little room for peaceful democratic transition. 

While we are very far from issue-based politics and considering that our politics is largely driven by tribal ambitions, there is more than unites than divides us. We share the same roof in a country we all call home despite our differences.

It seems what matters most rarely features during our national political debates. Our politics revolves around personalities, tribes, regions and clans; things that should be less of priority.

Our politicians, with support of the masses, use the political arena as a space to flex their muscles and their egos. It is never about issues. If you want to understand this, just look at the quality of debates in the media. 

In 2022, the electorate should to take a break and bring in leaders who put the public interest at their heart of the agenda. It is therefore incumbent upon the political class to spread a message of tolerance and embrace the spirit of open debate centered on the problems facing the people they wish to represent.

It is time to move away from our Machiavellian approach to politics and embrace the spirit of tolerance. This country presents a ray of hope in a region that is burning, and elections should bring us together rather than divide us.

It is therefore vital for institutions such as the National Cohesion and Integration Commission to plan appropriately.

The decision by the Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to map out possible violence hotspots and plan ways of mitigating violence is laudable.

The State must use its machinery to ensure that the country makes gains in the next general election and that we don’t see violence during the polls.

The candidates angling to take the position of President should be grilled on their agenda for the country. Our journalists should ask the hard questions and they should dig up facts on the candidates. The media can play role to illuminate the scene, it should help the voters to make an informed choice. 

The coming elections should not be about a candidate’s ability to marshal the support of his or her tribe or clan, but rather on their suitability for office.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission should also do all what it can to ensure those who don’t meet the requirements as per Chapter Six of the Constitution don’t end up in the ballot.

One area that needs to be clearly checked is also election finance. It is time for Kenyans to know how politicians fund their campaigns. We need a transparent process where we can assess the election finances are proper and don’t contravene the laws.

The 2022 elections by all means should be the turning point this country needs. The parties also have a role to support vibrant progressive politicians who know the importance of leading others.

Party primaries are where hopes of great people who would have made a difference in people’s lives are dashed. The primaries shouldn’t be seen by parties as avenues to raise funds for their respective presidential candidates but as platforms to present the best candidates for the electorate to make a choice.

While we have one nation, the challenges are also diverse. For example, the challenges the people of the North face are far from different from those faced by those in Central Kenya.

Therefore, our politicians need to align their personal association on the national scene with the parties they feel can address the challenges of the regions they represent while at the same time focusing on the challenges the entire country faces.

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