Is your town neglected? Phone local elected leader; it’s their job

Sunday January 20 2019

Moses Kuria.

Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria. He has publicly criticised President Uhuru Kenyatta, saying he has neglected the Mt Kenya region then did an about turn and apologised when the President censured him. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

KALTUM GUYO
By KALTUM GUYO
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If any MCA, MP, senator or governor told you there is an emergency line to State House that you can call to report lack of piped water, electricity or poor roads, they have misinformed you.

Our politicians have used misinformation and misrepresentation for years to deflect attention from what is legally their duty to us by erroneously blaming the presidency. I am not even trying to be sycophantic here; it’s not my style. But I believe there is a need to put facts right. If development is not coming to you, the blame should go to your local leader. Not bad luck or the President.

The Executive has itself to blame, however, when they turn up to open anything and everything. Envelope next? Politicisation of many of the projects initiated is what has led to the current feud and, perhaps, many more to come. Some of the tasks could easily be undertaken by senior civil servants, who seem sidelined in favour of photo opportunities for the executives seeking to collect extra political points.

EQUITY

When we are told that the President has neglected an area, it means the local leaders don’t know their role. It is the local political leaders’ job to develop their area. They must give us the record of their work first and what attempts they have made at improving the lives of their constituents before they apportion blame.

The recent outburst from some Mt Kenya political leaders was clearly inspired by tribal sentiments and not genuine concern for the people of that region. Such sentiments are inflammatory and divisive. If we are to start talking of places that have been neglected, Mt Kenya would not even feature. Leaders from the area need to go around the country to see how the other half exists before they talk of neglect.

They talk of the President only helping alcoholics from Mt Kenya. Have they heard of such support from the President or Nacada for areas ravaged by khat or heroin, for instance? They should count themselves lucky!

Suggesting that President Kenyatta must focus all his development goals in Mt Kenya region or some desert is missing the mark. The President of the Republic of Kenya, whichever tribe he comes from, has a duty of care to the nation and not just a small enclave from their tribe.

I am not naive to the political see-sawing in the country. However, I understand devolution is now in place and aimed at supporting development across the country on an equitable basis. For the President’s tribesmen to come out and suggest that he has no right to form a union with Kenyans from other ethnic communities just shows how deep the tumour of tribalism sits in our society.

The key responsibility to develop grassroots areas lies with local leaders. They cannot keep blaming the Executive or acts of God.

A leader with development at heart will even use his own pocket or beg and borrow from everywhere to develop his area. Apportioning of blame by some of the grassroots leaders just goes to show they are clueless on their responsibility to voters.

The only way to end misinformation is by educating citizens on what legally they should expect of those they put in power. Civic education must be our language, not tribalism and corruption. We should demand to know how county and constituency funds are used.

TRIBALISM

The information should be available on demand by any Kenyan. Right to information is clearly provided for in the Constitution and it is time we started to use such rights by asking critical questions on service delivery or lack of it.

National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) must start to show leadership in stemming the rise of tribalism. They must come up with pre-emptive steps to counter tribal feuds before they reach dangerous levels. Belated statements to newsrooms don’t cut it.

Some of the leaders stoking tribal skirmish ought to have been dealt with when they were first implicated in inflammatory talk. Cases of hate crime are not solved by a slap on the wrist of the perpetrator; it requires harsh punishment as a deterrent.

Many people have written to me many times saying it is difficult to destroy tribalism in Kenya and I disagree. We can rid the country of such ills so long as respect for the rule of law is paramount. As things stand, law has taken a back seat and anarchy has replaced it.

Tribalism will not be tackled by circumvention of the law to save our culpable kith and kin. The right people must start to do the right thing. NCIC and the criminal justice system ought to start to deal ruthlessly with the scourge of tribalism and stamp it out before it gets out of hand — like it did in 2007/2008, when we were plunged in shocking post-election violence.

In the meantime, please phone your grassroots leader if you run out of medication, water or electricity. It is your right and they are legally mandated to provide it.

Ms Guyo is a legal researcher. [email protected]

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