In the last of weeks, the country has been treated to a high octane show of political charade. It is a charade because you know the politicians are lying through their teeth once again. And the gullible voters are falling for their bait.
At different times and places, those on opposing sides sat, dined and wined together. They said and schemed nasty things about those who they are tossing glasses and exchanging high-fives with.
Deputy President William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga said bad things about the side that President Uhuru Kenyatta supported in 2007. President Uhuru Kenyatta said nasty things about Raila in 2013. Raila said nasty things about President Kenyatta, the same he is saying about Ruto.
When the tide changed, all of their followers were left high and dry, unable to make head or tail of things. So don’t be mistaken by the show of magnanimity at the end of it all when sworn enemies cross the line and shake hands. It is all fake because for one to gain, another must lose.
In the heat of the moment, Ruto even characterised NASA supporters protesting what was clearly an election malpractice in 2013 with a militia, and said the police would deal with them.
Now it is Raila feasting at the high table; it is Ruto being kicked around by the same policemen he ordered around. Would Ruto do the same given what he is going through? Will he start where he and Uhuru left in 2017?
Those who rejoice as Ruto is being given the boot and the cynics cringing as the red carpet is rolled out for Raila are obsessed with one dimensional view of things and worst, scorn at the teachings of Ecclesiastes; the duality of real life. Tears and happiness; joy and sadness; poverty and richness; fullness and emptiness; life and death… all of them follow each other in quick succession.
How is it that Raila finds it right to stay silent when all he claims to have fought for is being thrown out of the window? Assuming that he and the so-called second liberation heroes fought for the rights of all Kenyans; doesn’t he feel bothered when those who have persecuted him before are subjected to the same treatment that he went through? Or when does right seem right and wrong, wrong?
Uhuru’s 2013 election victory offers us sobering lessons; of what gain is it to have won the presidential contest and lose half the country?
You cannot play well and score goals when half the team is left on the bench bitter and angry. You can trace the country’s poor prospects even before the coronavirus struck. What is needed is the uprooting of the whole political structure that has been watered and nurtured by dead-end politics.
It is the combustible mix of dead-end politics, widespread poverty and destitution that often explodes at every electoral cycle and blinds the masses to the devious schemes of the political class.
This cul-de-sac politics – as constant as the sun – retards rather than advance societies. The problem with our politics is not so much the conundrum presented by a winner-takes-it-all model, but the win-at-all-cost.
The shenanigans we are seeing now inadvertently leads to stagnation, thereby deepening and widening the bitterness and the frustration of the masses. And because career in opposition politics is never attractive, the likelihood of incumbency being rewarded again and again looks more, not less likely.
History has shown that growth and development follow the rule of law. Good politics encourage a clean government. The rule of law combined with a highly trained and skilled labour force, up-to-date financial and technological infrastructure, a reliable transport network are an irresistible attraction for multinationals.
Kenya has most of these; save for the first. The problem is that for most of the time, the leadership preoccupies itself with schemes of how to share the national cake rather than how to bake a bigger size. Hence the frenzied campaigning soon after an election. That takes away the focus and takes so much energy. Those who have been locked out run ahead of time to secure their place at the feast.
Nobody, it seems, cares about the whole mechanics of governance, which is simply making things work. Joblessness, sluggish economic growth and hence a shrinking GDP is not much of a bother. And frayed ethnic relationships come in handy in this pursuit of raw power.
We need to worry that with the economic outlook looking gloomier by the day – as the economy stagnates and as jobs are lost, and as debt servicing takes up a huge portion of the revenues and more sink deeper into penury – we may be nearing the much-dreaded inflection point – point of no return.
-Mr Kipkemboi is an Associate Editor at The Standard.
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