Presidential debates might herald the end of big tribe syndrome in politics

Tuesday February 26 2013

Undoubtedly, presidential debates have radically transformed leadership in Kenya. The live sessions have exposed the other side of candidates’ lives to citizens who only depended on the tribal ties to cast their ballot.

First, it is now clear if you want a public office, Kenyans will want to scrutinise your performance record.

Second, integrity will be a major factor in future elections. Our leaders have a habit of double-speak, which is why most of them were hard pressed to answer questions of impropriety.

Third, pledges made to the public must be practical and not just mere vote hunting manuals. Party manifestos are grandiose plans out of touch with budgetary realities.

Fourth, all aspirants will in future have an equal chance of getting public attention. Those lacking resources will get the debate platform to articulate their agenda. Past leaders resided in ivory towers. Unlike Mwalimu Dida, the rest appeared to live in fantasy.

Fifth, leadership is about tough questions and tough choices. Candidates should be aware that wananchi will no longer handle them with kids’ gloves. We must hire the best person for the job, not jokers. Nairobi must elect the best governor to set an example.

Sixth, the oversight role of Parliament came out as lacking. How do you explain a situation where 40 per cent of the budgeted funds are misappropriated? Without the oversight role, forget about efficient use of public resources.

Leadership is the greatest sacrifice one can make for the nation. The myth that political power is an opportunity to eat must be debunked. Never again shall dynasties and tribal allegiance guide our national conscience. Kudos Kenyan media for doing us proud.



Proudly Kenyan

Presidential debates have served to consolidate Kenya’s evolving democratic tradition. They have humanised and humbled the candidates. By being required to account publicly for scandals associated with them, the contenders were reduced to the level of humble servants of the people.

The tension-packed and poisonous political environment witnessed during the last weeks of the 2007 campaigns is clearly absent. The debates have played a role in diffusing tension and de-tribalised Kenyans.

Also shattered, is the myth that the presidency is special. Perhaps this is the beginning of the demise of big-tribes in political calculations; 2017 may be very different. The last debate must have made all those who watched feel proud to be Kenyans.