George N Kimani: We must demand sound leadership from politicians

Kenyans seem to be living on borrowed times. Listening to wananchi, one realises a terrible sense of resignation arising from the prevailing economic and political circumstances.

The political bickering, fierce fights and scramble for raw political power we have witnessed after the senseless post-election violence is insensitive.

It is unfortunate that the greedy political elite is determined to drive this great nation to the brink of economic and political disintegration. We are literally held hostage as politicians pursue self-aggrandisement at the expense of resettling displaced persons and compensating those who lost their property and loved ones.

The embers of post-election violence seem to be awaiting ignition as politicians now sit in big offices behind ebony desks, ready to spend our sweat. Kenyans of all walks of life should come out of their cocoons of silence and strongly protest against politicians whose agenda is only to acquire power.

The same people whom we heard issue threats to disrupt peace if their demands were not met are now dining together. Similarly, those who stood aside and failed to provide leadership as the country burnt have offered their services as ‘political stewards’. The ordinary citizens are held hostage by the minority political elite.

The political crisis that threatened to tear the country apart should be documented as a lesson to future generations.

Kenyans must realise that the solution to their myriad social, political and economic challenges does not simply lie in implementing the National Peace Reconciliation Accord Act or the formation of the Grand Coalition Government.

The salvation of this nation lies in leaders from both camps striking compromises based on patriotism as opposed to selfishness and the clamour for power. The Grand Coalition Cabinet can only function based on comprehensive constitutional and administrative reforms. The clamour by political parties for control of ministries is not useful.

It is absurd to think that the only way to ensure representation is by sharing 40 ministries. The country does not need more than 19 ministries and indeed some departments fronted as ministries should be merged under one and headed by a Cabinet minister.

Real meaningful change would have come through appointing a clean and lean Cabinet. Elderly politicians who hold archaic ideas and tribal hatred should have given way to youthful and knowledgeable MPs. Tribalism and cronyism should not have been the yardsticks used by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to allocate Cabinet positions.

Kenyans must re-assess themselves to find out what went wrong. The citizens of this country must shun the culture of silence and indifference. They must actively participate in public affairs.

The country should not be left in the hands of politicians who prefer exclusionist policies. They like it when the ordinary mwananchi, including the middle class, remain spectators and cheer leaders in their endless games.

Kenyans should remain vigilant and zealously guard the principle and ethos of democracy. The citizens’ clamour for social justice and respect for the law should be a priority.

They must demand that victims of past injustices are compensated. For instance, they must push the Government to resettle and compensate victims of the 1992, 1997 and 2007 election-related skirmishes. They must also call for punishment of the perpetrators.

A new constitutional order and better governance is Kenyans’ right, and not a gift from the political class. Kenyans yearn for a selfless and principled calibre of leaders who can speak for the voiceless.

Such leaders should be compassionate and fight for the common good.

The writer is a lawyer and the Executive Director of Kisima Rural Foundation.

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