More leadership and less politics, please! - Beaking Kenya News

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Friday, 15 May 2020

More leadership and less politics, please!

Building Bridges Initiative
From succession politics to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and the proposed changes to the Constitution, Kenyans are currently enduring a period of heightened political activity.
Even as the world is deeply immersed in the fight against Covid-19, the sphere of politics in Kenya remains vibrant as ever.
For many years, politics in Kenya has been a brutal game that requires large financial muscles, huge tribal following and power. It is often dominated by older individuals.
Despite the Constitution creating positions for special interest groups, particularly the youth, their voices often get drowned in the din of political melodrama.
So just what do young Kenyans think about the country’s political landscape? Do they actively participate in it?
We reached out to four young people to get their views, the changes they’d like to see and what they are willing to do to bring about the much needed change.
Oliver Bill, 27, MBA student
The political climate in Kenya is secretive, unpredictable and lacks sincerity, which is quite unfortunate.
When the idea of the Building Bridges Initiative was hatched, it created deep divisions, mostly driven by politicians’ hunger for personal political mileage.
This was done at the expense of healthy and robust debates that could generate a document that is acceptable by all.
It is unfortunate that even at a time when the whole world is battling the coronavirus, some politicians are still holding secret meetings to advance their interests. Our politics is messed up.
Our country is knee deep in debt, for instance, because our leaders borrowed so much without consulting the common mwananchi, yet they are the ones who are expected to pay those huge debts through heavy taxes. That is unfair. However, it is not all doom and gloom.
Through politics, we adopted the system of devolution under the new Constitution. Unlike before when most public resources were concentrated in Nairobi, they’re now spread across the country, and some remote parts of Kenya have reported remarkable growth.
Our problem as Kenyans is that we glorify politics to our detriment. We elect leaders on the basis of their political parties, wealth, tribe or endorsements from the so-called “political lords”.
Most of the time the people we call leaders have no proven record of good conduct. Something is seriously wrong with our country because we often reject prudent individuals or eject them after just one term in office, while corrupt non-performers stay in office, sometimes for life.
Even so, I actively participate in politics because sitting on the fence is the worst mistake any young person can make.
Politics affects us in every area of our lives. I was a student leader in university, and there was a lot of politicking when I was campaigning for office.
Failure to participate in politics is synonymous with taking a backseat in your own life. This coming election, I’ll be going for the member of county assembly seat for Kobura Ward in Kisumu.
If resources were to be utilised properly in my hometown, the youth would be greatly empowered, and they would all be able to earn a living genuinely.
Increasing the representation of various interest-groups such as marginalised communities, the youth, people with disabilities and women has positively impacted their welfare, but there is still more to be done. The one-third gender rule, for instance, needs to be implemented to the letter.
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Regina Mlecha, 26, Musician
Kenyan politics is very polarising. While we often stand united as one people, especially during difficult times, elections always leave us sharply divided along tribal lines, and there is hardly any sign that this will end soon.
If I was a politician, I would review policies on economic growth and vouch for laws that promote equality at all levels of our society.
Rather than the obsession with wealth, I’d champion for a people-centred system, where communities are empowered and play a major role in decision-making processes, and are involved in the production and equal distribution of resources.
Food security, through value addition on agricultural produce, to ensure the country has enough to feed itself would be my top priority.
I would also improve access to healthcare, streamline the education sector, and revamp our transport system.
I don’t feel adequately represented in our political platforms, even though there are many avenues that have been set up to enable the youth to voice their concerns.
Why would an initiative targeting young people, for instance, be headed by a septuagenarian, who is unlikely to relate to the concerns of millennials?
We would gain so much more if we were more involved in governance issues and formulation of policies that influence job creation, cultural preservation and promote national values. Ideally, the power is in the people’s hands.
But ironically, our politicians have so much power and influence, which most of them end up abusing. This power should be reduced.
Although we have systems in place, most of our politicians lack integrity, and such leaders should be blocked from running for office.
The challenge, however, is that some of them might still end up holding public positions through political appointments.
I wouldn’t consider running for office because of the chaos involved right from political parties.
Kenyan politics is a game you play to either win or perish because voicing a contrary opinion can sometimes end tragically.
We need to invest in civic education for the masses on the role of elected officers.
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Sophie Ghai, 22, Law student
I think the political landscape in Kenya is progressive and that Kenyans are more politically aware than ever before.
This is partly because of their past unpleasant experiences with dishonest elected leaders.
After the many stinking scandals involving politicians were highlighted by the media, Kenyans had to rethink their choices, which is good for change.
But we need more than just exposés. Lack of firm and conclusive action taken against suspects of corruption, for instance, remains a setback in this quest.
It is refreshing to see more young people get involved in local politics, and others as watchdogs.
I, however, dislike the fact that Kenyan politics is largely tribe-based and driven by individuals’ wealth.
We need to be more rational about those we elect to office, and be open-minded and give the young, feisty and enterprising politicians a chance to lead.
As a young person, I have a civic duty to participate in politics. The contribution of every individual to our politics matters.
A single ballot can determine the fate of an entire country and its people. Politics is like climate change. It affects both the current and future generations.
Many young Kenyans are innovative and have great leadership skills and potential, and they might just have the answers to transform our country.
Given the opportunity, they could offer alternative leadership even at the very top of our political hierarchy.
Our politicians have given politics a bad name through their disreputable behaviour. Corruption makes it hard to get the perpetrators to pay for their sins.
Is it possible to be clean as a politician in Kenya?
This is quite hard because our politicians lack morals. Politics is said to be a dirty game, but politicians could at least work together for our collective good instead of constantly antagonising each other.
I can’t wait for a time when a Kenyan leader, as happens in the more civilised societies, will resign for improper behaviour.
Kenyans are already demanding for more prudent leadership by exerting pressure on politicians, especially on social media.
This might be our hope in weeding out rotten leaders. We have good laws, but we need to act decisively. I plan to have children someday, but we have such a huge debt to pay.
Therefore, it is in everyone’s best interest to ensure that we have leaders who do only what is best for the country.
Passionate and servant leaders who involve citizens before making any major decisions. It is baffling, for instance, that we import maize and other products yet we can harness our resources and generate enough maize and other food products for our country and some surplus for export.
From a purely economic perspective, we have all it takes to do that. However, if we are to achieve this, we must have the right people as leaders.
My wish is to see Kenyans vote rationally, and elect young, vibrant leaders while sending home non-performing, old politicians.
I also yearn for a country where leaders work towards the common goal of improving the lives of the people.
Is it possible to come out of this current mess? Yes. We have the laws we need. We must now enforce them and hold our leaders accountable.
Other countries have done it, so why not us? It is time for us to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves.
Edwin Gogo, 28, Communication and Media
Politics in Kenya has degenerated to its lowest point. Most of the elected leaders seem to serve their own interests instead of advancing the peoples’ requests.
This explains why some powerful people ordered the demolition of houses for vulnerable Kenyans in Kariobangi when we should be saving lives and protecting our people at this time.
The voiceless majority need to wake up and exercise their sovereign power at the ballot. The time has never been riper for a political overhaul.
The BBI may have had good intentions in its text and form. In the eyes of millions, however, it is the epitome of political betrayal.
The fact that this discourse has destabilised the ruling party shows you just how dangerous and divisive politics can be.
The split in Jubilee has shifted the focus from fulfilling the administration’s re-election manifesto to succession politics.
In my view, the BBI has divided the country more than it has united it. Kenya would be better off with less politics.
It doesn’t help our development efforts to get the country into election mode as soon as one election cycle ends.
This has predisposed Kenyans to an endless maze of heightened politics. After the general elections of 2002, there was a referendum three years later.
Two years after that, in 2007, we witnessed a bloody election, where lives were lost and thousands displaced.
Soon after, the Orange Democratic Movement initiated Okoa Kenya Movement to amend the 2010 Constitution.
Now, the next elections are due in two years’ time, but we have already began arguing about whether we should amend the Constitution.
We are always in campaign mode and this hurts our plans for development. Granted, it is practically impossible to separate politics from governance.
Separation of powers
Our politics is structured to guide governance processes in the country. All the three arms of government, in theory, are independent and should work hand in hand to better the lives of Kenyans.
The general feeling in the country, however, is that the Executive has muzzled the Judiciary and the Legislature.
Both houses of parliament behave as if they are present only to accept and adopt the decisions made by the State.
The Judiciary doesn’t seem to be independent either. In my view, we need to strengthen our institutions and independent offices and constitutional commissions such that they’re able to carry out their functions irrespective of the politics of the day.
This way, they’ll be able to stave off undue influence and hence function better. Politics in Kenya is a lucrative career.
Why else would a member of Parliament spend more than Sh100 million to campaign for a job that will earn them Sh60 million at the end of their term?
Presidential candidates usually spend billions during campaigns. You wonder why they invest so heavily. What’s there to gain?
Our Campaign Financing Act hasn’t been enforced to regulate these excesses. A mature democracy is where leadership is value-based.
Frantz Fanon in his book, Wretched of the Earth, writes: “Every generation must rise from obscurity, discover its mission and either fulfil it or betray it.”
As young people, changing the bad politics should be our mission. In comparison with our peers in Africa, Kenya is faring better in terms of adopting progressive laws.
Our leaders have also done well to initiate a national reconciliation project, which promises to promote peace and stability in the country.
We need that stability for progress and continuity. Our leaders must work together to empower youth by supporting their initiatives both in the county and national level.

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