Between now and August next year, we are going to be treated to hundreds of political rallies as Kenyans campaign to be elected to office. All these Kenyans will promise development, jobs, security, and more. As they campaign, they will exalt their ability to deliver whatever they are promising. Kenyans will either cheer or jeer them. We should however not get carried away by public euphoria. No wonder that The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has just termed early 2022 campaigns undesirable and urged politicians to slow down.
Irrespective of who is in office, there are five things that we must demand from every elected leader so that our country can break free from the chains that are chocking our unity and growth.
The first thing that elected leaders must deal with decisively is corruption. Although I have discussed corruption numerous times in my previous columns, some occurrences last week showed us how we can root out corruption. When three convicted terrorists escaped from Kamiti, the President fired Wycliffe Ogallo, the Commissioner-General of the Kenya Prison Service. Thereafter, officers from the Anti-terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) speedily arrested him, alongside the Kamiti Maximum Prison head Charles Mutembei and his deputy. Less than twenty-four hours later, the three convicted terrorists were arrested in Kitui and airlifted back to Nairobi.
This incident provides a template that top elected leaders must lead by example in dealing with matters of corruption. Just as the electorate will hold them accountable, they must also hold top leaders of government and corporate institutions accountable. In this Kamiti saga, arresting the top leaders will be more effective than sacking a few low-level prison wardens. Leaders are the ones who are charged with full responsibility and must therefore be held accountable for any failures under their watch. This must be the new norm in every single government institution.
Secondly, the electorate must demand the extermination of the rampant culture of impunity for justice and development to prevail. Impunity fosters corruption and there is a direct link between the rule of law and development. As reported, we lose one-third of our State Budget to corruption every year. Considering that the 2021 budget was worth Sh3 Trillion, it is possible that during the current financial year, corruption will snatch away Sh1 Trillion. Why should we lose even one coin to corruption when some of our loved children in rural areas are studying in ramshackle?
Thirdly, we must systematically tackle negative ethnicity. We must never forget how more than one million people died in the Rwandan genocide; how largely ethnically fueled clashes killed an estimated 500,000 people in South Sudan; how Somalia’s long-running Civil War that is partly clan-based, has killed thousands; how Kenya’s own 2008 post-election violence left more than 1,300 Kenyans dead. These figures remind us that negative ethnicity is always a bomb waiting to explode. Any leader whose words or actions fuel negative ethnicity must not be tolerated by the masses and must be prosecuted by the State.
Fourthly, we must demonstrate civility. The lack of social order in a society leads to total confusion while its presence attracts tangible sustainable development. The rule of law and civility therefore must prevail at all times. This applies to every Kenyan, not just politicians. When a pedestrian ignores a footbridge and decides to sprint across the road, he is blatantly ignoring law and order. This can easily result in loss of time, money, and life. According to the 2020 ease of doing business ranking, only two sub-Saharan African countries made it to the top 50. This proves that law and order have a direct correlation to investment.
Finally, I suggest that we entrench the spirit of Ubuntu into our national operations and systems. Ubuntu is an African philosophy that dictates that ‘I am because we are.’ We are one nation, one people, and must take care of one another, not pull each other down. This is the metric that we must use to measure not just our leaders, but also ourselves. Think green, act green.