From north, south, east and west, from every nook and cranny in this country, patriotic Kenyans will today be trooping in their millions to vote for the servants of their choice.
It’s only the unpatriotic who don’t make use of this great opportunity to exercise a basic democratic right. We get the servants we deserve, but they will not fall from the sky. They will not shoot their way into office, neither will they be imposed on us by a big boss or foisted on us by some deity.
And let us forever banish from our thoughts that nonsense about our servants being appointed by God.
Our servants come from our vote. Only when we participate in the great democratic exercise do we ensure that those honoured to serve us truly do meet our expectations. It’s by voting that we get the servants we trust will not raid our pantries, steal our taxes, destroy our institutions, trample on our rights or generally engage in gross abuse of office.
We want servants who will do what we expect of them after having passed the job interview. We want employees who meet our demands for piped water in our townships, decent and affordable healthcare and education for all, those who will grow our economies, build the roads, bridges and communications infrastructure and ensure a just and equitable society we can all be proud of.
Unfortunately, too many of us think that voting is only for the hoi polloi. Many decide to make use of voting day for rest and recreation. There are even those who find a convenient excuse to schedule appointments out of the country for the duration of the electoral period.
It’s true that many of us are tired of the noisy politics, and sick of the sad excuses for leaders who populate county assemblies, governor’s mansions, Parliament and even State House.
It is easy in a situation such as ours to resolve that voting serves no purpose. To the contrary, the iniquities inflicted on us by those we entrust with responsibility is what should spur us to make sure our that we don’t make the same mistake twice.
It is our vote that can ensure that the characters famed newspaper editor Philip Ochieng’ so famously described as ‘layabouts, idlers, thieves, ne’er-do-wells, con men and illiterates’ never again debase our institutions of governance.
Get what we deserve
If we don’t vote, we will get what we deserve. And because we elected not to exercise the sacred duty, we also lose the right to raise the red flag against graft and other excesses perpetrated by those we indirectly put in office.
Refusing to vote for the servants we want translates to a vote for the ones we don’t want, the ones who don’t meet the standards we demand. So, let’s take this thing seriously. We’ve had more than enough time to study the CVs and interrogate the application papers of those seeking our employment. We have heard what they all propose to do if employed. But beyond their promises, we must also look at their record of past employment.
Grand plans cannot be delivered unless those entrusted with the onerous burden are also persons of good character and moral probity, and stellar records of working for the common good rather than just for themselves.
To that extent, those we select must come with a demonstrated record of that simple thing called trustworthiness. We must be persuaded that they will never abuse our trust.
And we will select the best man or woman for the job, irrespective of ethnic affiliations or any of those our loyalties that too often lead us to place our trust in the most unsuitable and disreputable of characters.
We can all agree that if we entrust a known thief with keys to our houses we will have nobody but ourselves to blame when our valuables suddenly go missing. If those seeking office promising to eliminate corruption themselves have a history of graft or have embraced known thieves and fraudsters into their inner circles, then they obviously don’t deserve our consideration.
This is the time we decide we will only engage those we believe will breathe life to Chapter Six of the Constitution, not just in word but also in deed. The spirit of it is that anyone facing charges of corruption is suspended or disqualified from public office—and, obviously, in that situation one cannot even be considered for promotion or another appointment until cleared.
What applies to ‘ordinary’ employees must also apply to our political servants.
[email protected]; www.gaitho.co.ke. @MachariaGaitho