Early political rifts a bad sign for counties

Members of the 13th Parliament during their swearing-in session. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

There are many Kenyans who miss Daniel Moi’s days in power – more so as the late president’s sharp political predictions come to pass.

The professor of politics once warned that ‘siasa mbaya maisha mbaya’. In his estimation, reckless leadership breeds misery. In light of recent events, few would doubt the veracity of Moi’s caution.

The list of the bad and the ugly seem to be swelling day in and out. Parliament and county assemblies are in many ways compromising accountability yet the poor Kenyan public pays top dollar keep them on the job. We now see a cavalier attitude. The wanting quality of legislation and pre-occupation with sectarian interests among the political elite have left shock and unanswered questions. The melodrama in Meru County pitting Governor Kawira Mwangaza against ward reps suggests deep love for trivial political fights that end nowhere. Meru may never know peace. Something has to give. Kawira’s recent ‘70- times’ apology to MCAs, observers say, may only offer a brief lull before a storm.

A cursory look at many other counties reveals emerging deep rifts hardly 100 days into office after the August 9 polls. From claims of nepotism, graft and highhandedness to battles along coalition or party lines, legislative inattentiveness in county assemblies may be the new normal up to 2027. The National Assembly and Senate aren’t any better. We least need political discord.

The county assemblies and the executive wings seem to spar for the sake of it leading to ineptitude. In Kajiado recently, MCAs trained guns on Governor Joseph Lenku over a Sh100 million allocation to the livestock off-take programme. The plight of drought-hit farmers didn’t matter. At the national level, elected leaders don’t inspire hope of impactful representation not to mention effective legislation and oversight of government. Forget the presidential term limit joke, you could ask why a legislator, at this point in time, want counties raised from 47 to 52 in the name of safeguarding the interests of minority tribes.

What does the Kuria community and the Tesos lose by being part of Migori and Busia countries? Kuria East MP Marwa Kitayama, the man behind the populist push to create additional counties, should be reminded of the pitfalls of tribal cocooning. To realise the ideals of devolution, we require more creative thinking as we seek to build one Kenya for all.

Elected leaders have an obligation to strengthen public institutions and churn out impactful legislation that improves quality of life. Absolutely, there’s no need to cause ripples over mundane issues such as which tribes get their own dominion over resources. 

Lawmakers, at the same time, should have the grit and guts to keep the Executive well aligned to actions that contribute to the country’s overall good. Disregard for expert advice and disdain towards those who question their quality of leadership and commitment to the Constitution won’t take us forward.

And in the last two weeks, political showdown loomed over the ‘Cherera Four’. President William Ruto opted for a fiery Twitter creed against the embattled election officials, terming them unfit to hold public office. Azimio leader Raila Odinga fired back. 

In my view, the Cherera matter is a waste of Kenyans’ time and resources. Ruto’s hands are full. The task ahead is enormous. Taking time off to revenge against Kenya Kwanza’s pre-election enemies – real or imagined – is needless.

Why would kicking them out be such an important quest when the country cries out loud for real post-election healing? The net effect of such ‘revisiting’ is that our elections will continue to lose their shine ahead of 2027.

The President should embrace his backers and detractors alike to bring everyone on board. It was heart-warming seeing Ruto and Cotu boss Francis Atwoli, who campaigned against him, shake hands. Let bygones be bygones.

-The writer is an editor at The Standard. Twitter: @markoloo