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Why you should go for statesmen and ignore politicians on August 9

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On August 9, Kenyans will be presented with a blanket cheque-a signed cheque with the amount left for the payee to fill in.

Voters are the payee. The amount is the leaders -either statesmen or politicians- we elect to provide stewardship for the country for the next five years. As payees, we ought to fill in the highest amount to cash, and in this case, elect statesmen and not politicians. In this election, let’s vote for statesmen and stateswomen, not politicians.

Visionary leadership is what our country needs, so let us exercise our electoral right by voting for a visionary. A statesman is a person who promotes the public good and is recognised for probity, leadership, and has qualities necessary to govern a state.

Our country deserves leaders who stand by their ideals and will do everything in their power to do what they believe is right for this country. Let us shun politicians whose one primary objective is to get elected but flip-flop on national issues as the polls change.

During this campaign season, a number of contestants have displayed statesmanship and have put our country first. They don’t take advantage of the suffering for political gain. They don’t dismiss problems; they reveal them and work with others on solutions. They assume ownership, not blame someone else. Statesmen solve problems politicians created. Politicians seek victory in a failure. Statesmen admit failure and seek victory as a remedy for failure.

We must exert our sovereign power to elect people who stand on a platform of fundamental truths; people who believe in certain core values and don't change beliefs to get ahead in politics. This leader, however, may change his policies and methods of going about achieving his goals. He may even be criticised for doing so, but he believes that short-term sacrifice is necessary for long-term triumph.

As we have witnessed during the campaign trail, politicians are the same; irredeemable bloodsuckers whose common genetic thread is an appetite for public resources and free things. Most politicians seeking elective posts base decisions on power, wealth or conformity to legal rules or morals. Therefore, rather than seeking power for the nation, they instead strive for power for their party; the hunger to control the National Assembly and the Senate.

In the next five years, we need visionary leaders with a clearly defined vision for our country and constituents. We need to elect statesmen. A statesman/stateswoman knows exactly what he wants to accomplish during his time in office. This requires foresight to recognise that he will confront problems and will need solutions to realise his goals.

We need a statesman to build consensus with the people around his ideas. A leader who believes in his message, and has to keep his word to continue to form support around his ideas, unpopular though they may be. We must cleanse the political and bureaucratic state of thieves, murderers, rapists and merchants of impunity.

Kenya without exception needs great statesmen who possess qualities that create large ripples of positive influence that stand the test of time. Great leaders have vision, adaptability, understanding, awareness and courage to tackle chronic governance issues that have bedevilled our country since independence.

Barack Obama is a statesman whose leadership was a change agent in the lives of Americans and people worldwide with accomplishments that far outweighed his defeats. Lee Kuan Yew's leadership led Singapore to be the most prosperous country in Southeast Asia. Nelson Mandela led a movement against apartheid in South Africa. The citizens of these nations elected statesmen and not politicians.

Like statesmen, politicians too have visions. However, they may direct this vision more toward personal gain or the advancement of their political party. Politicians' motives may not be sinister, but their interest is to win power at whatever cost by using dishonest PR campaigns and propaganda to lure gullible voters to their side.

Negative campaigning uses fear to lock into the natural negativity bias in the voter’s brain, which impairs decision-making abilities and creates fear to influence votes. This is in contrast to the more positive framing used by statesmen who create a vision of a more positive future.

It is said that a statesman shears the sheep; the politician skins them. A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman of the next generation. A politician looks for the success of his party; a statesman for that of his country. The statesman wishes to steer, while the politician is satisfied to drift.

As it is, merchants of impunity are in a fierce battle for the control of state power, wealth and privilege. There is nothing that will keep them from reaching their goal and nobody can stop them except us, the voters, with our sovereign power at the ballot. On Election Day let’s make a wise decision, let’s elect STATESMEN, not POLITICIANS.