Should diaspora Kenyans fund elections?
Posted Monday, April 30 2012 at 19:59
This is the season when Kenyan presidential candidates flock to the diaspora, particularly to the United Kingdom and America, in search of assistance.
Some of them are tactful and will try to persuade Kenyans in the diaspora that financial assistance is equivalent to political support, for they will argue, if you put your money down, you really want that candidate to succeed! What a gimmick?
In the past 11 years, we have seen them all, from the current President to the latest entrants.
But it is important for those in the diaspora not to be taken for a ride through empty promises from these smooth talkers who are really, first and foremost, only interested in your money, and secondly, your vote assuming we are allowed to vote next year.
All the candidates will, of course, promise they are coming to the US because they think highly of those abroad and they want to incorporate them in nation-building.
They will try to outdo one another in the promises they give. They will even make government policies sound like their parties’ agenda!
In previous elections, party leaders promised “dual citizenship” as if it they had the power to bring about such a fundamental change, while clearly it was part of the government agenda.
I urge my fellow compatriots in the diaspora to be cautious while hosting such politicians. In Kenya, when they meet prospective voters, they entice them with real goodies and achievable promises.
But people in the diaspora do not expect such goodies, nor cheap promises. And clearly, they are not interested in financing campaigns.
The politicians should not come with baskets expecting to collect pounds and dollars so they can buy another helicopter or campaign bus.
It is time those in the diaspora showed the politicians that their earnings are for more serious development in Kenya. I also think it would be wise if they identified someone already in the diaspora who is interested in going back to Kenya to seek an elective post.
They could vet them and see that they could fight for the interests of the constituency they will stand for as well as the diaspora. These might be dollars better spent.
For those politicians who have been in the US or UK and those planning to come, you are welcome to seek the votes of the diasporans but do not make your trips fundraising missions, especially going by the past whereby those assisted financially have shown no appreciation after the elections are over.
A few have also been known for raising funds claiming they are contesting in a certain constituency without meaning to do it. They pocket the money and run, but not for Parliament.
Any politician who can pay for his or her ticket and maybe finance his or her hotel expenses for a few weeks in the USA should use such funds campaigning and not seeking to exploit those in the diaspora.
Prof Macharia teaches Sociology in the Washington DC Metropolitan area, USA. (Kmachar09@gmail.com)