Political parties take the blame for bad leadership; they should reform

Wednesday March 18 2020
By KALTUM GUYO

I am no kirimino! (I am not a criminal). That is a denial that came from one of the MCAs in Nairobi (name withheld for contextual value).

Nairobi City County hosts the national capital. A UN headquarters, the only one in Africa; a mini Geneva and micro New York. It’s a regional hub in many respects.

The MCA’s “kirimino” comments followed her involvement in one of the violent incidents that have become the hallmark of Nairobi County Assembly.

She was filmed as she and her fellow MCAs shoved and pulled while blocking Speaker Beatrice Elachi from office.

The county has hardly sat and engaged in a civil manner since its inception three years ago. No wonder, babies disappeared at birth at Pumwani Maternity Hospital while the MCAs fight.

The brawling fashion by Nairobi MCAs has become quite a phenomenon that other counties have caught on.

There is always someone being hounded out of the office in one of our 47 counties for a flimsy excuse bordering on canvassing for an opportunity to steal funds.

VETTING CANDIDATES

There is nothing more criminal than breaching law and order in the eyes of the law.

However, as we put people in positions of authority with a criminal predisposition, they are naturally inclined to behave in a ‘kirimino’ fashion — whether it is causing drunken brawls in the office or stealing public funds.

How on earth did we get into this vortex of theft, violence and lawlessness in public offices?

I will tell you: By political parties shirking on their responsibilities and picking every Tom, Jacky and Harry for votes’ sake.

If they got out of prison that very moment, the better. This an assault on the collective intelligence and conscience of the society!

Political parties’ knack for nominating characters with integrity shortfalls contributes greatly to the bad leadership Kenyans have to endure.

And their inaction to kick them out, even when they are accused of corruption and other serious crimes, makes them complicit.

CORRUPT LEADERS

If they were proactive on integrity principles, corrupt leaders wouldn’t get emboldened to disregard court orders, kill, rape and steal.

The court has given guidance on senior officials stepping aside once charged with corruption and political parties need to support the rule if they are genuinely democratic.

Why is the ODM duo of Migori Governor Okoth Obado and Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong still in office despite facing serious crimes yet Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal (Jubilee) is not?

Babu Owino (ODM) is charged over the point-blank shooting of a hapless citizen and his party chooses to remain silent.

The red carpet is still rolled out for politicians such as Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko (Jubilee) even when they have graft cases.

One wonders what the benchmark for serious violation of the law is for the political parties if murder and corruption do not cut the mustard?

Political parties believe they have no role to play on integrity matters when, in fact, they do have the initial responsibility of not nominating tainted characters in the first place.

DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES

Secondly, they have the sole duty to deal with lawbreaking members once information comes out regarding their behaviour before and while in office.

Leaving it all to the criminal justice system is a way of vitiating the justice process and abating impunity.

If prima facie evidence puts a leader’s integrity to question, their political party should be the first to ask that individual to step aside or be expelled from the organisation.

It is the type of proactive behaviour that would help in preserving the integrity of the party and save us from impunity.

The constitution of the political parties must mirror those of the laws of the land. Theirs is not to redefine a crime that is clearly defined in the supreme laws.

They should have built-in disciplinary procedures that don’t only deal with disloyal members but also serious crimes.

NEED FOR HARMONY

Show me your friend and I will tell you what you are, so the saying goes. The political parties are as bad or good as those whom they support.

Given the poor judgement in selection of political leaders at the grassroots, it is no wonder we are now spending so much time and effort to correct mistakes that could have been avoided at nomination stages.

The parties must realise that the fight for democracy involves respecting rule of law. For now, they are behaving like Wild West. Blatantly lawless.

They need serious reform to help in harmonising leadership standards.

* * *

Daizy Cherogony did not need to lose her job because of a harmless act of insubordination. A simple apology from her to CS Matiang’i would have sufficed.

The decision by the court has made Ms Cherogony unemployable over a minor incident. Many senior people have kept their jobs despite committing worse crimes.

Clear her record, please, and get her back to work.

Ms Guyo is a legal researcher. [email protected] @kdiguyo