Two years ago, we voted overwhelmingly for a new Constitution, signalling our deep desire to move from the old ways of governance to new ways that would give expression to our aspirations of a modern, democratic, fair and equitable society.
How I wish we had held elections six months later, so that our desires and expectations would have been fresh in our politicians’ minds.
But we didn’t and two years hence, its back to business as usual for our politicians, and no presidential contest has been as uninspiring since 1988.
Previously, there were always candidates standing up for “change,” in line with the majority of voters.
But this year, it is uncanny how candidates are tripping over themselves to sell their agenda as “continuity” rather than change.
Yet the new Constitution is all about change: Change in the way our governance works; change in the way leaders treat ordinary people; change in the way we treat each other; change from abusing human rights to respecting them; and change in the way the economy is steered shifting from top down to bottom up and with respect to equitability, respect and sustainability.
Since 2008, poll after poll has shown that Kenyans are keen on moving away from where we are at, and to a new Kenya.
We voted for a less centralised system with development and governance from the bottom up, but I am yet to hear any candidate explain how they will lead us into devolution, nurture it, and facilitate it.
I am yet to hear a candidate extrapolate their vision for public participation in legislative and executive matters, and how they will turn away from the current “orders from above” system, where those in charge know best and hate being challenged or questioned, even by the courts.
No candidate has told us how they intend to lift the lot of the poor, minorities and marginalised, those most strongly protected by the new Constitution as the most vulnerable.
Nor have they told us how they will deal with those bureaucrats so used to running rough-shod over ordinary people — mostly in the Office of the President, police, lands offices, and Finance.
Some have said they will eliminate corruption, but without details on the how, reminding us of the zero-tolerance promises of 2002 which were so quickly forgotten that today we have more and deeper corruption than ever before.
And most important, not a single candidate has told us how they will eliminate impunity: For crimes against humanity, corruption, drug trafficking and other crimes by the rich and powerful.
Instead of telling us how they will make this radical Constitution a reality, what we see is Raila Odinga paying homage to, and supplicating with, Daniel arap Moi, whose 24-year reign was the epitome of corruption, tribalism and impunity. And his close allies beg for Mwai Kibaki’s endorsement, he that normalised corruption, impunity, disrespect for the Constitution and tribalism.
And Musalia Mudavadi continues the trend, proclaiming that he will “protect” President Kibaki upon retirement, as though the President needs special protection beyond what the Constitution affords every Kenyan without discrimination. Or does he know something that we don’t know that requires special protection for President Kibaki?
With ICC charges hanging over them, it is not surprising that neither Mr William Ruto nor Mr Uhuru Kenyatta have much to say about impunity and crimes against humanity.
But then Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, handed a golden chance to remake himself, falls back on his experience in the Moi and Kibaki regimes as the centrepiece of his campaign! Yet this is exactly what we voted to change so overwhelmingly!
It appears that only the Judiciary has understood the deep desire for transformation that Kenyans need and it is well on its way to actualising them, hence the high approval ratings that they are getting.
There are challenges undoubtedly, but Chief Justice Willy Mutunga has his hand on the country’s pulse.
The political class could do worse than emulating the Judiciary, and internalise our desire for change.
Yes, change can be painful and scary, and we the voters may well be sending out conflicting signals with our support for “our own.” But leadership is about bucking the norm, and showing us that what we desire is indeed possible.