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Kenyans: What The Hell do You Have to Lose Voting for the Opposition?

February 16, 2017

By  Washington Osiro*

Kenyan opposition leaders (L-R), Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, Raila Odinga, Moses Wetangula and Nick Salat hold hands as they announce their alliance during the 2017 general elections aspirants conference organised by the opposition parties in the capital Nairobi, Kenya January 11, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Thomas Mukoya

Kenyan opposition leaders (L-R), Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, Raila Odinga, Moses Wetangula and Nick Salat hold hands as they announce their alliance during the 2017 general elections aspirants conference organised by the opposition parties in the capital Nairobi, Kenya January 11, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Thomas Mukoya

Kenya’s General Elections are approximately six months away and since the last election (in 2013), the country has seen the “best of times” AND the “worst of times” – depending on one’s partisan lens.

The country saw its president and deputy escape crimes-against-humanity conviction at The Hague. Kenyans then witnessed the “triumphant” return of its long-lost son and America’s 44th president Barack H. Obama. Also making a trip to Kenya thereby adding more sheen to the country’s international profile were Pope Francis, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Kenyans have seen implementation of major development projects including the highly-touted and high profile Standard Gauge Railroad (SGR) and not surprisingly, these mega-projects have all been mired in corruption and gross malfeasance.

The country has experience (annual) economic growth that ranks among the best in the world, certainly in Africa. However, the development has been funded by a level of borrowing, mainly from China, that the World Bank recently described as “unsustainable“ — given some of the terms of the loans.

Unfortunately, Kenyans have also borne witness to a series of events that speak to a stark dearth of presidential leadership and accountability. It is this reality that prompts a paraphrased Donald Trump-esque-like question to Kenyan voters:

WHAT THE HELL DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE VOTING FOR THE OPPOSITION?

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have failed Kenyans on many levels including in overseeing provision of the most basic requirements of any society and only the most rabid sycophants would say otherwise.

While the opposition (as embodied by Raila Odinga) has not endeared itself to a critical mass of Kenyan voters, especially those in the voter-rich areas of Central Kenya and Rift Valley, the case against re-electing Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto is a compelling, indeed an open and shut one.

Simply put, Kenyans don’t have much to lose by electing the opposition to the presidency in the upcoming elections.

Consider the following:

• President Kenyatta, Deputy President Ruto and their family and friends epitomize the corruption that has seen Kenya become one of the world’s most corrupt country, certainly in Africa,
• Kenyans are dying of starvation amidst a famine that could have AND should have been planned for – at a minimum,
• Kenyans are either held hostage (for outstanding hospital debts) or dying, some in foreign lands such as India, due to lack of the most basic medical services,
• Insecurity is rife throughout the country; partly exacerbated by a corrupt and politicized law enforcement and security apparatus who in turn, take their cue from the two leaders Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto,
• The country is as polarized – along tribal and ethnic fault lines – as it has ever been; this despite the president’s commitment to “unify the country” and “be president to all Kenyans”,
• The country’s legislature that has been unable to authorize pay increases for two of society’s most important professions – doctors and teachers – boasts some of the world’s best-paid Members of Parliaments (MPs). Adding insult to injury is that the same parliamentarians had little difficulty finding billions for the pensions of all current and former MPs – backdated to 1963!
• Probably the most painful and disturbing failure of the country’s leadership has been its failure to hold anyone accountable for the post-election violence of 2007/2008; a fact that fully underscores the impunity Kenya’s leaders are notorious for.

The fact is Kenyans are suffering through the miasma of incompetence, intolerance, and impunity even as their leaders, their friends and families:

• Cavort, selfie-fy and “dab” with celebrities (and I use the term “celebrity” very loosely and generously),
• Fly to South Africa, India or “abroad” for specialized medical treatment. This point is made even more aggravating because Mr. Kenyatta’s own family has been implicated in siphoning off billions in government tenders meant to pay for healthcare services and facilities,
• Gloat about “eating meat” while ordinary Kenyans look on salivating, hungry and thirsty,
• Use the (corrupt) court system to delay, frustrate and eventually avoid prosecution against various crimes.

The coup de grace in the foregoing illustrations of incompetence, which in my opinion far outweigh the ruling party’s accomplishments, is an apparently overwhelmed president (Uhuru Kenyatta) quickly shifting blame from his office (of the president) to the other branches of government including the equally corrupt and incompetent legislature, judiciary and law enforcement!

In a vivid illustration of quod erat demonstrandum when explaining why corruption has gotten worse under his government, the hapless President Kenyatta could only offer the meek:

Jameni, mnataka nifanye nini?“ (Surely people what do you want me to do?)

In light of the foregoing illustration of utter defeat, I ask this of fellow Kenyans one more time:

WHAT THE HELL DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE BY GIVING THE OPPOSITION A CHANCE TO GOVERN?

*Huffpost

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