|For four months, Kenyans will witness an epic political war meant to define both the country’s future and the personal ambitions.Coalition of parties and individuals will do political and self-interested battles on simultaneous fronts.
The questions that beg for answers are: Do Kenyans know the kind of politicians they are dealing with? Is politics delivering? What are the challenges facing Kenya? Can a new generation of leaders arise to tackle the country’s troubles?
President Kibaki will definitely present himself as a results-oriented leader, who is savouring a rare moment in his presidency: an unbroken string of great news about a spectacular economic growth.
Yet he knows not to stray too far into the issue of unemployment and the fact that the majority of Kenyans have tasted none of the stellar economic results of his stewardship.
Mr Raila Odinga likes to think of himself as a reformer, and to his credit, he does speak passionately about revising Kenya’s laws that stifle social democratic values. Yet he knows not to stray too far into the goings-on in ODM.
Health minister Charity Ngilu might offer herself as the first woman ever to lead Kenya — almost as if that were enough. So far, her strategy seems to hinge on her audacity to take on powers that be. But she has had spats with the establishment for a long time now. The time must soon come when she sets forth specific policies and a vision for the future. Only then will her real mettle be tested.
Mr Kalonzo Musyoka, Mr Musalia Mudavadi and others will promise us the world- happiness, jobs, social order, housing and prosperity, not to mention protection from everything they don’t like- crime, poverty and corruption.
Eccentric electoral outsiders, with the bank accounts and business acumen, not to forget the behind-the scenes kingmakers, will do their bidding in order to hop onto the gravy train.
Boisterous supporters will dance, wave flags, chant an array of competing slogans and flash assorted victory signs either as defiance or just the exuberance of youth.
Deadly serious though, it might be, ordinary people like me can be pardoned for treating it all as something of a carnival.
We can never know the real story about a leader’s faith. We know only what he or she does- or refuses to do.
Kenya today has self-absorbed leaders who belong to their own ambitions without a broader sense of obligation. Wealth and poverty have always coexisted, uneasily in Kenya. Its affluent, self-satisfied elites, whether in government or the opposition, have never shown much concern for the plight of those left in the lurch.
For all their rhetoric, the game of politicians is to try to satisfy as many voters as possible, on all sides of the political spectrum. They wax eloquent about the country’s progress and its troubles.
They eloquently speak about the virtues of hard work, fairness, merit and responsibility. Yet they waste no time in awarding themselves huge salaries.
The suspension of critical faculties by voters is what makes even non-performing politicians maintain a mythical hold on them. The political byword these days is change.
Politicians promise it, yet very few present a compelling vision for it. We have pretenders, who talk the talk of change, but display little inclination to walk the walk.
What kind of leadership does the nation need to lift itself out of the trap of poverty, tribalism, corruption and high unemployment?
Radical reform is clearly the answer. It should begin with a new doctrine of separation of powers, drawing a clear line between market freedoms and individual economic choice on the one hand, and the dictates of state control on the other.