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The third liberation: Our destiny is in our hands

Wednesday August 21 2019

Voters queue to cast ballot during Jubilee

Voters queue to cast ballot during Jubilee Party primaries in at Moi Primary School in Nairobi on April 26, 2017. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Kenya’s political history can be segmented into three eras, namely; first liberation, second liberation and the third liberation.
The first being the fight for independence that was realised in 1963, the second being the struggle for good governance that is embodied in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and the third, is the ongoing campaign for social and economic empowerment of the country’s people that is loftily captured in Article 43 of the Constitution.

The third liberation will, however, not be realised if the current state of affairs continues.
As usual, all blame will be heaped on politicians and “the system’’ (an imaginary deep state), but time is nigh for us to call out the real stumbling block to Kenya’s progress – and sadly, it is the voter.
Living in an independent country with a progressive Constitution will not guarantee social-economic progress without active citizenship. And active citizenship is not lamenting or throwing tantrums on social media.
It is about how you work and conduct yourself, vote, whom you vote for and how you hold them to account, among others.
The belief that a truly plural democratic society contributes to the promotion and attainment of good governance drove those who came ahead of us to fight for democracy, paying for it in sweat, tears and even blood. Today, most Kenyan voters take democracy for granted.
Since 1992, when multiparty democracy returned to our shores, developments from electoral conducts and outcomes have left more questions than answers as to the state of our democracy, nationhood and progress.

From 2002, the first street protests after every election have had something to do with leaders seeking to increase their salaries. After induction, somewhere in the first batch of business is always a salary increment agenda. This, is the first signpost to the testament that change is never in the way we conduct our elections.

On the downside; politics, elections and leadership in Kenya are seen as means to wealth. Our elections have increasingly become a do-or-die situation where every trick, including the unfair is employed, including ethnicity and religion. The voter, on the other hand, is lacklustre in conduct; cheering politicians and later on joining the ever-increasing congregation of mourners that is Kenyans on Twitter (KoT).
Our electioneering languages are incitement and violence, no holding back. The culture of not accepting defeat especially in executive positions like the presidency and gubernatorial contest is now commonplace, power-sharing is now a norm -where precious time and resources are wasted by candidates and parties undermining each other and polarising their supporters and the general citizenry.
Weak electoral institutions and legislation have also been identified as causes for the poor leadership in the country, IEBC is now a career graveyard and no longer attracts talent and quality, yet it is at the heart of our governance.

Since 2008, Kenya’s civil society has been decimated and can no longer to act as a joint force for democracy. And even its remnants of the civil society can’t be heard by the voter and everything is now in freefall.
And in all these, the voter is comfortable. ‘We, the people’ means sovereignty – it is not mere poetry. The Kenyan voter, like the politician is hard to advise and normally thinks he is above reproach. We are in the midterm of Jubilee’s second term – an administration whose tour of government has been, for lack of a better word, disastrous. It is time to look the voter in the eye and say these words: “Thus far, you have some degree of blame”.

Mr Maliba is the Team Leader at the Open Future Hub (OFH). Email: [email protected]; Twitter: @Arnold Maliba;