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Avoid six-piece voting like the plague to get quality leaders

Voters casting their vote at St Patrick's Shimoni Primary school in Eldama Ravine during the UDA nominations on April 14, 2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The leading presidential candidates have a strong incentive to ask for “six-piece” voting in this year’s election. They want a pliant Parliament that will pass their proposed legislation (including budgets) and look the other way from their failures.

They also want pliant governors and MCAs who will do their political bidding at the grassroots. Kenyans of goodwill should reject this type of thinking.

Come August 9, everyone should vote for the best candidate on the ballot for all the six elective positions. To that end, everyone should feel obligated to mix and match. The last ten years of devolution have taught us what good leadership can do.

We have seen some counties build hospitals, factories, and other infrastructure for their people, while others lost most of their budgets to governors’ mjengo projects in Nairobi.

If devolution is to work as intended in the Constitution, we need to elect locally rooted leaders, not mere jingoists of national politicians.

The same concerns should inform how we vote for legislators. In the Senate and the National Assembly, we have arguably the most powerful Parliament in Africa.

Yet, executive capture effectively neutered both houses under the Jubilee administration.

This August we must elect an independent Parliament, which means choosing independent-minded legislators. Again, avoid loyalist podium dancers who will squander your CDF money like the plague.

Some may say a divided government - in which the coalition that wins the presidency does not control both houses of Parliament - is a recipe for institutional instability. I disagree. We must learn to live with a constrained presidency.

That necessarily requires a Parliament that often stands up to the president and forces him or her to give specific and costly concessions in terms of legislation and policy. Ten years of a coddled presidency have left us with little to celebrate.

It is time we embraced the idea of split-ticket voting. Importantly, voters should avoid praise singers of national ethnic chiefs and instead choose leaders keen on issue-based politics.

The writer is an Assistant Professor at Georgetown University