Regional kingship contests cause unnecessary divisions in communities

President William Ruto chats with deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Kiharu Mp Ndindi Nyoro. [DPCS]

Political spats that have hit and now threaten to split Central Kenya amplify two things; the unifying power the Kenyatta family had on the region, and possible schemes to polarise and weaken a region that has given Kenya three of its five presidents so far.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro once united in upbraiding former President Uhuru Kenyatta, appear to have turned their guns on each other in their quest to fill the void Uhuru left. Regional kingship, or community spokesperson, no doubt, is becoming a divisive concept among the political elite. It would however serve the intended purpose if domiciled in community councils of elders.

In western, council leaders from the 17 sub tribes can choose one among them on rotational basis to articulate the Luhya community interests. In Central, the Ameru, Embu and Kikuyu elders can elect one among them to speak for the community. Politicians are inherently selfish, hence lack capacity for objectivity. 

Unnecessary fights over regional kingship in Kisii and Central impede development and enhance sectarianism. The fight for supremacy among the numerous Somalia warlords drove their country to the dogs in the 1990s. Extricating itself from that rut has become a tad too hard.

Despite assertions to the contrary, Kenya is a highly sectarian and tribalistic society whose leaders are driven by parochial interests. The shareholding policy amplified by Gachagua holds true, especially in public service appointments. In the midst of political fights for supremacy, however, citizen disillusionment with the government has become palpable.

The blitzkrieg with which Kenya Kwanza hit the political stage has noticeably waned. Its leaders are grappling with the complexity of explaining to frustrated hustlers why pledges made in the heat of the 2022 campaigns largely remain unfulfilled. It is only now that it is dawning on the leaders that policy articulation and execution are diametrically opposed. Failure to align the two caused once popular leaders across the world to lose public trust within a few years of ascending to power.

The circumstances Kenya Kwanza government finds itself in echo those that Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, South Africa's Jacob Zuma and Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak once found themselves in; slow economic growth, huge foreign debt, social inequality and the perception that the government had turned its back against ordinary citizens.

Dr Ruto's Housing Levy Fund resembles Razak's 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund that generated controversy after more than $1 billion from it mysteriously ended up in his personal account.

Last week, Mumias East Member of Parliament Peter Salasya raised a pertinent issue we cannot ignore. Today, the government is in the process of demolishing houses built on public land. As Ruto pushes for the construction of affordable houses despite a court ruling outlawing deductions from worker's pay, it should not be lost to us that the houses are being built on public land.

If, say, 20 years from now the incumbent government decides to demolish houses sitting on public land, how will Ruto's affordable housing escape the axe?

History serves as a flare in the hazy world of leadership where many people end up groping in the dark. It is often ignored, yet presents a blueprint of political landmines an effective leader should avoid.

Philosopher George Santayana once said that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Kenya Kwanza should learn from this. It requires introspection. Has it made any fundamental improvement on the quality of life of citizens?