I keep getting rogue emails from the MP from my old constituency in Britain. These are standard emails sent to the constituents highlighting the achievements, future projects are in the pipeline and surgery dates with the MP and so on.
When another one popped up in my inbox the other day, it made me wonder if our MPs have any such things going. Asking around my question was met with chuckles and sniggers. Joking aside, there is a need, however, to hear periodically from our representatives. It is one way to hold them to account.
This thought came to my mind because the pace of development in some areas of our country is painfully slow. Some constituencies have lagged behind for so long, even in the hands of a long-serving MP, that it is hard to believe they ever had one.
Even more troubling in such a constituency is to see school children learning in dilapidated buildings sitting on rugged stones. Given the current level of funding, such sorry schools should be a thing of the past.
We recently heard of a school in Kilifi with no toilet, where teachers and pupils dash to the same bush to relieve themselves standing side by side. It is shocking that in a country that has had representation in every inch for more than 50 years citizens still struggle with basic problems such as lack of toilet facilities — and in the 21st Century! Even a pit latrine is a good start.
There was venom meted out towards the President at the time and his apt answer was: “These areas have representatives.” I could not agree more. Many would agree that the first port of call should be the grassroots leaders, who have legal and fiduciary duties to provide services to us at the community level.
On the contrary, the pace of personal success for the grassroots leaders surpasses that of the constituents tenfold. An elected leader won’t think twice about sharing online the news of the villa he acquired only months into his job but have little to show for what he has done for his community five years later. I fail to see what such showing off is meant to achieve. Are we all to move in from the slums into the only brick house? It is insensitive and narcissistic, to say the least.
There is also the numerous dubious trips abroad for ‘benchmarking’ (whatever that means). They are unnecessary; nowadays, there is more than enough information online on just about anything. Even how to build a pit latrine. Just google it! Julius Yego, aka Mr YouTube, did it with javelin and won a world championship medal!
A simple email request to a foreign country could suffice. If it is a clean street and bright lights MPs are after, they can start by installing streetlights in their constituencies, while a clean street only takes a broom to realise.
It is time we came up with a format to evaluate elected leaders. There should be a rule asking them to provide periodical reports to show their achievements throughout their term. We don’t have to wait for another election to hear fake promises before they disappear into thin air again. We elect them to work and not perch on a pedestal stool, from where they gloat at us.
The comedian Mamito suggested jokingly that we should pay leaders on commission, depending on what they achieve. Sorry madam, but I didn’t find that funny; I thought we should seriously consider it. If the rest of us get evaluated to justify our positions and earnings, why should it be different for elected leaders?
Something else that needs to be curbed is open-ended campaign periods. When are the elected leaders ever going to report to work if all they do is campaign from one election to the next? We are drowning in meaningless politicking. It is only months since the last general election and our leaders are already jostling for 2022 positions!
They should tell us what plans they have for us first. However, greedily and with the speed of light, they are quick at fighting for a salary raise even before the ink dries on their manifestos.
The violence and intimidation during elections seems to have instilled in us so much fear that we believe roles are reversed. In a perfect democracy, it is the other way around. We should know that we have the right and the power to question when promises are not kept. Why do our leaders feel our children don’t deserve to learn in good classrooms? Why do they go to private hospitals amid the ailing public health sector?
Casting a vote means one has the voice and the power to control their destiny. In Kenya, however, we seem to have given such powers to leaders who care little about our problems. Our leaders can, therefore, get to work when we start snapping at their heels. For the sake of our dignity, we must have the confidence to demand services.
We deserve better.
Ms Guyo is a legal researcher in Kenya and the United Kingdom. [email protected]