Five elements Kenyans should consider when electing political leaders

By Charles Bazenga | Wednesday, Nov 13th 2019 at 11:58
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Ideally, an election is a process through which citizens/voters decide/choose individuals among them to represent them, to make laws for them, and to act as their watchdog.

Elections are preceded by political campaigns in which candidates for various offices present themselves and their policies/ideals to the voters for scrutiny. More often than not, malpractices and unethical conduct by the candidates undermine the electoral process;

Tribalism, voter bribery, pre-election violence, intimidation of voters, just to mention but a few. Abraham Lincoln made a very powerful and deep observation; elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters. Below are some of the elements that a Kenyan voter should consider in elections;

Accessibility

An elected leader is a public servant and ought to be available to serve the public. The leader should be reachable, so that bailout/give solutions and give hope to the citizens they represent whenever the citizens are hanging in crisis. Elected leaders should epitomise servant leadership throughout their time in office. Political aspirants should demonstrate this trait beyond reasonable doubt through a track record of working with the community. A proven track record elsewhere is also sufficient, for example, in public service, corporate sector, non-governmental institutions, etc. Colleen Kettenhofen once opined that an effective leader isn't just some figurehead, whose picture they may see on a wall or website; an effective leader is one who gets to know and understand their followers and is available to help overcome unexpected challenges, acknowledge their efforts, provide additional guidance when needed, and be the ultimate authority they turn to should they have a question or concern. In this digital era, a leader can interact with the constituents via social media platforms. 

Accountability

Prior to elections, interactive sessions such as; town hall meetings, TV debates, radio debates, newspaper interviews, and consultative forums need to be held so that aspirants can present their policies and voters can cross-examine them. This helps the voter to understand what the candidates stand for. The designers/organizers of these platforms must be objective to avert drifting from the main subject- the eligibility of candidates. Every officeholder must be responsible and held to account for their conduct. They must be audited. No one is beyond reproach or proverbial Caesar's Wife. A good leader must be open/free to criticism and audit. Public interrogation should never be a nuisance. Due process of the law should be applied in case an elected leader abuses/misuses office. Persons found culpable should be penalized/jailed to serve as an example and to set desirable precedence. Persons with a tainted/corrupt past shouldn't be given an opportunity to lead because they will cripple their jurisdictions via economic crimes. When allegations are leveled against leaders, they should step aside to pave the way for investigations. Many times, leaders suspected of graft vow to rather die than resign. Jeffrey Benjamin once said that accountability is the measure of a leader's height.

Development

Every nation aims at continuous marginal economic growth. This is possible through building sustainable infrastructure and superstructure. Every leader who aspires to assume elective office must have a clear blueprint that shows Wananchi what they would like to achieve, how and within what timeframe. It's unfortunate that only a few citizens read politicians' manifestos. They support someone's political aspiration without scrutinizing their agenda. Kenyans must begin to consider Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound blueprints that are presented by political aspirants. A leader must be visionary and pragmatic.

 

Selflessness

Just like Jesus taught us, a leader should be a selfless individual. They should be able to put the interests of their subjects before their own. A self-centered leader is a recipe for difficult economic times and underdevelopment. What we have witnessed as a country over time is a crop of leaders (dealers) whose main agenda in leadership is to advance personal interests; they increase their salaries/allowances- they don't care about the wage bill or the minimum wage, they build/acquire huge homes- they don't care that some of the constituents are homeless, they gag media to their benefit and curtail many other freedoms- they don't respect chapter four of our constitution (bill of rights). Kenyans need to identify persons who are people-oriented and whose agenda is for the common good. Interactive sessions with aspirants would help voters to determine suitability.

Brains

One of the gifts that God endowed us with is the ability to reason and to comprehend, to conceive ideas, and to choose between wrong and right. There are individuals who acquire this through the education system, whilst there are others who are just naturally smart. Others broaden their perspective through the hard way- tough experiences. The former is able to breakdown situations critically and formulate strategic solutions to problems by application of the theories and principles as learnt in school whilst the latter mainly uses instincts and intuition to solve problems. A combination of the two elements is rare in the political circles; hence, the voters need to identify such with a fine-tooth comb in order to identify suitable and pragmatic leaders. It's unfortunate that we have crooks and quacks for leaders- not all of them, though. For the citizenry to achieve this, they must look at the aspirants not along party or tribal lines but through the content of the aspirants' ideals. It's important for Wananchi to remember that a country's leadership reflects the values treasured in that particular country.

To conclude, the recently concluded Kibra by-election was an opportunity for the Kibra voter to exercise the aforementioned, but whether that happened is a debatable issue. It was an opportunity for the common mwananchi to demonstrate whether they vote on the basis of policies or not! If Kenyan voters continue turning blind and deaf to the five elements, the scalding will be with them for the time the elected persons will be in office.

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