- As citizens of this country, all of our commitments are about making the place we live better, and the state of society directly affects our lives.
- The reality, however, is that 12 months from now, with personal interests already vetted within the political class, electoral reforms will remain a mirage and, if undertaken, could be very cosmetic.
- So it is more likely than not that we will go to the next election with several unresolved issues from the previous elections.
I spent the last week reflecting on the state of Project Kenya. One might wonder why this should be a concern of this column. The reality is that as citizens of this country all of our commitments are about making the place we live better, and the state of society directly affects our lives. It is therefore important that each of us stop being a spectator and commit to shaping the direction of our country.
Speaking to a few friends, Kenya is at an inflection point. We have an election in a little over a year. However, our state of preparedness is severely lacking. The IEBC selection panel is interviewing four commissioners to fill vacancies in the electoral body. They should join their three colleagues and work miracles for the country to have credible elections in 2022.
Calls for certain levels of electoral reform are also gaining in urgency. The reality, however, is that 12 months from now, with personal interests already vetted within the political class, electoral reforms will remain a mirage and, if undertaken, could be very cosmetic. So it is more likely than not that we will go to the next election with several unresolved issues from the previous elections. With this prognosis, one can only hope that these elections will be credible, peaceful and fair and that they will be unifying and non-confrontational. The country has had both types of elections, 2002 and 2007 representing the good and the bad respectively. It is incumbent upon all of us to observe and engage constantly to ensure that we are targeting the former and not the latter.
The next question is the state of our institutions. Credible, strong and independent public institutions are the building blocks of a progressive society.
The Constitution sought to support institutional building and strengthening. New agencies were created with an emphasis on improving service delivery. Existing institutions have been restructured to ensure their effectiveness. And constitutional principles have been promulgated to guarantee new and existing institutions independence and space to exercise.
However, an examination of the current Kenyan landscape reveals a largely deplorable situation. The country is full of independent commissions and offices whose only relevance is to act as an agency to address employment issues. They ensure that a good number of Kenyans earn a living.
Beyond that, there isn’t much to complain about when it comes to their tenure. The government can be blamed for this development. It has played a major role in weakening these institutions both through the terms of appointment and through its relations with these bodies. Citizens, too, are to be blamed for allowing the deterioration and sometimes for being complicit in the process.
As we discussed last week, citizens are essential to transforming society. The duty of citizens demands that we reflect on our responsibilities and influence. Empowerment is the key. It is about seeking information on the evolution of our society. Without sufficient facts, we become easier to manipulate and unable to influence. It is for this reason that efforts to learn and educate the public must continue.
Citizens must also recognize that there is strength in unity. As long as we see ourselves first as members of our ethnic communities and oppose other ethnic groups, we will not respect our sovereign responsibility. All too often, people think that the only way to be successful is to either appeal to ethnic sentiment or to surround themselves with those in their community.
Members of other communities are seen as enemies and do not deserve any involvement in nation building. The result is ethnic animosity and competition. This approach cannot allow citizens to control their rulers and help solve the country’s problems.
As I thought about these questions, I was tempted to abandon the country. The only question left was this? I’m sure that’s a question several people can think of as well.