It's too early to ignore citizens and start campaigns for 2027

President William Ruto. [PCS]

You will never get enough power. Search for more. Overthrow the people above you and destroy anyone below you portending to challenge your power.

Sounds familiar? Niccolo Machiavelli is the author of The Prince, a political recipe on how to gain, maintain and grow more power unto yourself. The book teaches politicians how to be heartless using all means possible if only to grab power and hold it dearly.

That is not all. Machiavelli provides that a politician must be ruthless against challengers. There are no morals in his world and therefore he advises leaders to do whatever it takes to knock off political competitors. For ordinary citizens, Machiavelli advises the leader to use deception, lies and above all, fear to control them. Citizens must never be allowed to demand any form of justice.

Justice, Machiavelli says, is the advantage of the strong. A leader enjoys power that can be used to suppress any dissent in cunning ways. After all, citizens must adjust to obey orders or else they must be made to submit to orders. The tumultuous bipartisan talks between Kenya Kwanza and Azimio Coalition sought to find solutions to the political tensions following last year’s disputed presidential outcome. To this, the cost of living and the creation of the post of Prime Cabinet Secretary and Office for the Opposition Leader were added. 

However, signals from the dialogue room are not a surprise to many Kenyans. Political betrayal, blackmail and ethnic domination echo a replay of Machiavelli’s menu. There is very little political will to address grievances that necessitated the call for the bipartisan talks.

When President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga formed the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to address grievances leading to divisive politics in the country, many Kenyans argued against the process. Finally, the courts threw out the initiative for operating outside the law. Well, we now have BBI II.

Just like it happened to BBI I, dissenting voices are threatening to stop the process. Simply, we are staring at another lost opportunity to press the wound in our political system.

With political scheming putting into doubt the process, any resolutions from the bipartisan parties will not attract the public legitimacy that is so fundamental in implementing such resolutions.

Clearly, some political beast is manoeuvring a preferred political settlement that the bipartisan talks most likely will not favour. It could also be that bipartisan teams will be compelled to discuss the electoral injustice agenda with a possible discomforting outcome.

Political campaigns for 2027 seem to have come earlier than expected. How? Why would a government in power run around the country vigorously campaigning, destroying the Opposition base whose members it has hijacked and literally peeling off the right of citizens to picket when it has, presumably, four solid years to establish itself? What is the campaign hurry for?

Let me back up further my conspiracy theory. Several ethnic enclaves are gathering to reposition themselves. The much-publicised Mt Kenya parallel meetings in the past week allude to dark night Machiavellian scheming for an unclarified goal other than the general blanket statement that the Mountain has grievances to take to the national government.

Nearly all leaders from the Mountain are in government and therefore one would expect other parts of the country to be the ones drafting and campaigning for their wish list at State House.

The treacherous Machiavelli hits and misses in Kenya Kwanza and Azimio coalition parties will definitely claw back any efforts towards justice for the poor in the form of dedicated commitment to government service delivery.

To push back this Machiavellian politics, our religious leaders are best placed to bring back values and principles of sound moral judgment, including in political spaces. Like Satan, Machiavelli attacked and threw out religious values in politics. He killed faith. We have to kill Machiavelli.

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