The death and burial of former President Daniel arap Moi united Kenyans in mourning and momentarily brought down heightened political bickering of the previous months. All tributes for President Moi categorically stated that the fallen leader cherished and preached peace, love and unity. Opinion was divided about his legacy but all agreed that he stood out as a symbol of peace, love and unity, especially in historical context where countries within the region were tumbling due to military coups. Against this backdrop, all speakers called on Kenyans to heed Moi’s earnest plea. This is pertinent.
For months, the country had been thrown into a whirlwind of politicking as political formations clashed over the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), whose original intention, paradoxically, was to end deep animosity and bitterness that followed the contentious 2017 presidential elections. The country is once again divided as political temperatures rise. In the din, critical matters of nationhood are jeopardised. The economy, infrastructure and security, among others, are scantily tackled.
At the core of all this is the fact the country has not struck the right political cord. Politics is organised along ethnic and regional lines. Parties are mere vehicles through which ethnic kingpins coalesce and rally their kindred to support their ambitions. Campaigns are a cut-throat business with contenders splashing cash, unleashing terror and devising all sorts of schemes to get past the goalpost. By default, political leaders have eerily given meaning to Moi’s oft-stated postulation that bad politics leads to a miserable life — “Siasa mbaya, maisha mbaya (sic).”
President Uhuru Kenyatta is serving his second and final term. His energies should be fully spent on executing his development plan. However, since 2017, there is little tangible developmental matter that could be linked to his Jubilee administration. On paper, the regime has declared pursuit of ‘Big Four Agenda’ — food security, universal health coverage, affordable housing and manufacturing — but on the ground implementation remains elusive.
Differences in politics are inevitable. In fact, anything to the contrary would be catastrophic. The very reason for the intense clamour for political pluralism in the late 1980s and early ’90s was to allow diversity. But then, there is more heat than light in the political establishment, which is, regrettably, engulfed in politicking that is marked by invectives and diatribe.
Democracy is about making choices. Citizens have a right make decisions and pursue their chosen political paths. Thus, difference of opinion should not translate into clashes. Individuals should exercise that right without being intimidated by anyone.
In this context, canvassing BBI or expressing a divergent view should not create animosity. Political players must tolerate one another. They have to lift themselves out of the retrogressive and primitive practices where politics is a zero-sum game.