Same old checklist for looming contest

Thursday February 9 2017

Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka addresses supporters at Kimera Shopping Centre in Nyamira County on October 23, 2016.

Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka addresses supporters at Kimera Shopping Centre in Nyamira County on October 23, 2016. PHOTO | DENNIS KAVISU 

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Our political scene is colourful and energetic. Politicians and the voters are expecting good tidings come August 8, and a majority are traversing the country or spending sleepless nights on social media to make their political contributions count.

As is our socio-political tradition, we have two main groups to train our focus on, Jubilee and the National Super Alliance (Nasa). From these, we expect to get a majority of our leaders at the national and county levels.

Jubilee has been around for a while and if the recent media reports are anything to go by, it is more organised and has a larger battalion to deploy for its political agenda. Nasa is still young and its detractors claim it lacks political stamina to defeat Jubilee.

Kenyans are now eagerly awaiting their chance to make their voices heard. They will retain the incumbents or replace them with more exciting people. To make this choice, the voter needs a checklist detailing the qualities that a leader must possess. Interestingly, we have an informal checklist that guides our electoral cycle and has determined our political trends over the years.


First, our preferred leader must be different. His or her political insignia should separate him or her from the rest of the pack in terms of colour, texture and delivery. This also goes for their party of choice that has its unique symbol that is easy for its supporters to identify (with).

Second, the preferred leader must have a captivating personality. Kenyan standards require that one is loud, flamboyant and quick to anger.

He or she must also be ambitious. Incidentally, starting out as a politician in Kenya requires little capital, but promises grand rewards. Indeed, the voters will frown upon a politician who does not have limousines, mansions or huge tracts of land.

Third, the politician must give voters something to be angry about and find someone to pass the blame to. Indeed, there will always be something to vent about, including our penchant for corruption, the ongoing doctors’ strike, dry taps and even the unruly social media space.


What we need, however, is someone domineering enough to project our disdain for the status quo. He or she must not necessarily have all the facts at hand, but can gather trends and numbers to justify our thoughts and emotions. It is important that our politician of choice relies on tribal mathematics.

He or she must show how his community stands to lose if these issues are not addressed. The politician must make us see through tribal lenses and conjure within us a deep fear and loathing for other tribes.

Fifth and perhaps the most important is that he or she must have no shame. This is a burdensome emotion that makes any politician ineffective.

He or she should thus be disloyal and unpredictable. That disloyalty is demonstrated through party hoping, blasphemy, lying and reneging on agreements.

A few items might change but strict adherence to the checklist should foretell another worthwhile election. Leaders must give voters what they want because history has been unforgiving to those who imagined they could do it any other way.

Ms Ochola is a lawyer and author of Teens’ Guide to the Constitution. [email protected]