With every Tom, Dick and Harry declaring their bid for the highest office in the land, the menu of those aspiring for the presidency in the next General Elections has now become ridiculously rich. It remains to be seen what impact this will have on the General Elections. Nonetheless, most everyone with an honest opinion agrees that the Right Honourable Prime Minister, Raila Amolo Odinga is still the man to beat in the next General Elections; a political reality that is notoriously
dominating the raging succession politics.
Raila’s rather excellent prospects for the presidency have however been met with fierce opposition from his formidable opponents who seem hell-bent on seeing a totally different outcome in the next General Elections. In an unprecedented move that is reminiscent of the 2002 General elections when the leading political lights in opposition united to dislodge Moi’s KANU from power, Raila’s political detractors have ganged up against him to thwart his bid for the presidency something which has seen him get branded as the ‘common enemy.’
Kenyans have a deep-seated desire for a democratic political system that is issue-based, people-centred, result oriented and accountable to the public as is captured in the political pillar of Kenya’s Vision 2030. Unfortunately, nothing brings out the worst in politicians than an election and the raging Kibaki succession politics are thus far hopelessly bankrupt of issues. What we are witnessing thus far is a succession debate that has degenerated into a dangerous electioneering circus.
The debate is now dominated by two concerns which are extremely difficult to fathom how they can be considered issues of national importance. The first concern is Riala’s popularity which is perceived to significantly improve his prospects of winning the presidency come the next General Elections. The second concern is the indictment of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto at The Hague with crimes against humanity.
This is absurd and highly regrettable especially considering that there are weighty people-centred issues of national importance that should be dominating the succession debate. Thanks to the peaceful constitutional revolution last year, the country is now properly set on the path of the reforms which were sought through blood, sweat, and tears for decades without much success. Doubtlessly, the full implementation of the constitution remains the foremost public agenda. Kenyans should therefore be seeking to elect the candidate with the highest reforms credentials and who will have demonstrated a genuine willingness and boldness to facilitate a full and effective transition from the imperial presidency and the dysfunctional centralised system of government.
The Kibaki succession debate ideally affords Kenyans an opportunity to interrogate the issues of national importance such as the crucial issue of devolution vis-à-vis anyone seeking to be Kenya’s Chief Administrator. Kenyans should be finding out who among the aspiring presidential candidates is best suited to fully and effectively implement the constitution? Who has demonstrated a genuine commitment to the reforms in the constitution both now and in the past? Can those who fiercely opposed the constitution be trusted to fully and effectively implement the constitution? Can those who were wishy-washy in their support for the new constitution be trusted now?
On the economic development front, Kenya has the ambitious goal of becoming a globally competitive nation with a high quality of life for all its citizens by the year 2030. However, as things stand now, the requisite economic growth has stalled at about 4.5 per cent yet the country needs to sustain an ambitious 10 per cent growth rate if we are to have a fair chance of achieving our Vision 2030. In addition, we are currently beset with a runaway inflation that is hurting the majority poor and our exchange rate has recently spun out of control like never before. The country’s macroeconomic environment is increasingly looking like a tragic mess and the ministry of finance and the Central Bank are to blame for the state of affairs. And all this is happening while the rate of unemployment especially among the youth is still dangerously high and the long standing issue of corruption is still looming large over our economy.
Who among the serious contenders for the presidency have the political acumen to assemble the right economic advisers and oversee the implementation of the bold economic policies that will be prescribed to turn around the economy? The current economic thinking is that the next president should major on the railway infrastructure and maintain the momentum on roads, the port of Lamu and nuclear energy. Who among those aspiring for the high office is already thinking in the same direction? Who can we trust to decisively deal with corruption in this country? Kenya’s territorial integrity has been severely undermined during Kibaki administration. Who can restore it and properly defend Kenyans against danger and fear?
These are the real issues of national importance that should dominate the succession debate and not the current issues dominating the debate. Honestly, it is a crying shame to see otherwise reputable politicians running around like headless chicken in fear because Raila has excellent prospects for winning the presidency. It is neither a fraud nor it a crime he has endeared himself to the people. It is an affront to the people to gang up against a candidate on account of his popularity.
It is true that elections bring the worst in politicians naturally but it should be obvious by now that fear-mongering and hate-mongering that preys on poverty, ignorance and ethnocentric stereotypes is not a viable campaign strategy. In any case, the hypocritical portrayal of Raila as a leader who is hungry for power appears to have lost traction over the months and years.
As for the concern of the indictment of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto at The Hague with crimes against humanity, Kenyans should accept that this the best way of handling the post-election violence. It is true that a drowning man will clutch at straws but the country mustn’t sink with the Ocampo six.