Moi was right on politics and quality of life

Critical theorist Niccolo Machiavelli believed politics and deception are one and the same. He theorised in 1513 that to measure a leader’s intelligence, look at his ‘kitchen’ cabinet.

This theory lets us in on a painful secret – that to measure the acumen of voters, see the caliber of politicians they elect. When elections lead to misery instead of hope, there’s a problem.  

Wanjiku is her own enemy. In blunt terms, gullible voters make wanting choices then protest desperately when things begin to deteriorate and a ‘serikali saidia’ moment sets in.

When just everybody gets a through-pass into public office, there must be fatal outcomes! Some observers warn that due to legal gaps and our inability to properly vet leaders, insulating ourselves from perpetual problems is impossible, literally.

The local news has of late been awash with undistinguished tales that leave one with no option but to question our leaders’ prioritisation skills. Politicians and those charged with key responsibilities look the other way as Wanjiku hangs by the skin of her teeth.

Millions of needy learners are on the brink due to delayed bursaries. An estimated 300,000 Form One students are yet to report to school.  Meanwhile, the anti-graft agency bemoans a fresh loss of billions of shillings in revenue collected by the national and county governments. The counties, on the other hand, are three months late in receiving their equitable share of resources.

The free fall of the shilling continues. The Executive and Judiciary have clashed. A tussle over the Nakuru War Memorial Hospital has crippled services. Floods and landslides claimed lives in Tana River and Bomet. Hyenas mauled locals in Kirinyaga. And in Kisii and Nyamira, gangs linked to politicians have torched homes, maimed and even killed locals.

In Kakamega and Uasin Gishu, locals stormed schools and ejected principals over ‘poor’ KCSE results. In Baringo where the State is yet to fully address banditry, a teacher was shot dead. As if not enough, there are concerns over rising femicide. This, as rivalry between Simba Arati and Sylvanus Osoro leaves Kisii County on edge.

In Rigathi Gachagua’s vote-rich Mt Kenya basket, leaders have endorsed Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro for president as if elections are due tomorrow. Then there’s the absurdity of some politicians paying pollsters to prop up their images.

Thus far, we haven’t seen any swift remedies to these problems. They are poignant examples of how grassroots leaders ignore Wanjiku’s immediate problems to score political goals and scheme for 2027. Touting of power rages and precious time is wasted. Former President Daniel Moi was right that ‘siasa mbaya ni maisha mbaya (Bad politics breeds misery).”

When will leaders commit to doing what’s required to improve the quality of life for voters? Because MCAs, governors and legislators haven’t settled in for their work, voters are left struggling with a guilty conscience because of the choices they made. How would President William Ruto’s ambitious agenda be realised if leaders on the ground aren’t ready to offer solutions to typical problems affecting the public? Ruto badly needs unconditional support from his coalition and opposition.

Where did the rain start? In early 2022, I predicted with precision that the integrity vetting of aspirants would come a cropper. What was to preserve sanctity of public office was performed only to fulfil bureaucratic electoral requirements. The anti-graft agency had also warned that people unfit to lead will be on the ballot due to lax rules. It came to pass. In the end? We’ve incumbents who’ve poured scorn on the very oaths they took, and have no qualms.

Proper suitability vetting of those seeking public office is the stitch in time that will save nine. Voters must ensure high quality leadership remains a live issue ahead of the 2027 General Election. No one should become an object of pity just because they voted.

-The writer is a communications practitioner. X: @markoloo