President must do serious soul-searching

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Kenya’s Opposition has for long been a clueless lot, jerking to life when prompted by some scandal or when one of their own is in peril. Perhaps the nature of our politics has fashioned politicians not in government to remain lukewarm to the cause of an alternative government .

It has to be admitted, however, even by those who pride themselves in peddling sycophancy that the current Opposition has done well in keeping government in check. Cord has exposed scandals, held sustained campaigns to demand accountability, and compelled government to rethink certain controversial decisions. For this, its leaders have been labelled perpetual noisemakers with nothing better to do than to criticise government. But then, that is the whole idea of a democracy: it is not the job of the opposition to please government.

On its part, the Jubilee administration has been dogged by scandal after scandal, including disquiet over the outrageous travel expenses of the President, large-scale looting by State officers, gross mismanagement of public funds, including the Eurobond saga, and unending feuds between the State and institutions such as the Judiciary, as well as independent offices and commissions.

Last year, media exposed more than half a dozen scandals involving coordinated plundering of State corporations such as the Kenya Planters Cooperative Union, about which nothing has been done to date. If anything, some of the names mentioned in the multibillion shilling scandals that make Anglo-Leasing look like child’s play in comparison have been rewarded with plum jobs elsewhere. Looked at this way, one begins to understand the level of disillusionment sweeping through the country.

This is not to say nothing good has come out of government. The country is a little more secure than it was mid last year ago, the economy is trudging along just like it has been, and tourism is looking up. But there is also no denying that President Uhuru has spent more time defending his government and officers than he has working to better the lives of Kenyans, and one only hopes it is not because he condones some of the activities his officers engage in.

A popular narrative within government is that Uhuru plans to come down hard on graft when he gets re-elected, which explains his reluctance to act now. Even ignoring the absurdity of it, the President needs to have a little faith in the capacity of Kenyans to think and make choices for themselves. Kenyans need no hoodwinking.

In mitigation to his nose-diving popularity, he must ask himself where he did well, and where he floundered; whether his allegiance lies to the funders of his campaigns three years ago, or the Kenyans who trusted him enough to elect him even when the whole world thought he was a criminal; why his once staunch supporters are now beginning to question his leadership in the middle of his first term; whether he can trust his handlers and lieutenants, or if they are using his name to engage in looting sprees; whether he feels the current trajectory of his leadership is what he envisioned when he began his term; and if he is satisfied with his progress so far.

One of the best attributes of a leader is that he sets examples for his juniors. If the President distinguishes himself as one who procrastinates and makes promises he has no intention of keeping, then he has no business lecturing on how to conduct their business, or setting targets for them he doesn’t want to pursue himself.

Motivational speaker Pat Williams says of great leaders: “…they have a heart for people. They take time for people. They view people as the bottom line, not as a tool to get to the bottom line.”

The President must realise that his actions ought to be about his legacy and the people.^

kevin@nairobilawmonthly.com

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