What you need to know:
- We recall the costly impasse in Makueni County when MCAs refused to approve Governor Kivutha Kibwana’s budget unless certain indulgences they demanded were met.
The fact that Members of County Assemblies (MCA) were “gifted” with cars to allow the BBI-driven initiative to amend the 2010 Constitution to progress exposes yet again just how far our leaders and the voters are from fulfilling their civic and leadership responsibilities and just how deeply the vice of corruption is embedded in our souls.
MCAs and Parliament are routinely bribed by governors and national government leaders (especially the presidency) using public money to force through initiatives they otherwise could reject. The car bribe is just the latest example in a long line of shameful acts.
We recall the costly impasse in Makueni County when MCAs refused to approve Governor Kivutha Kibwana’s budget unless certain indulgences they demanded were met. Of course the good governor refused leading to a lengthy paralysis of county affairs. Other governors have not had the mettle that the law professor has and have given in to ridiculous demands to please MCAs.
Our MPs are no better. There are plenty of undisputed claims of envelopes being passed around to “persuade” them vote one way or the other. People that have appeared before Committees of the Houses to lobby for something or explain acts or decisions with implications on public finance or welfare tell of brazen demands for cash.
Hardly a week ago, there were reports of Members jostling aggressively to be appointed to what are considered lucrative committees – with Transport being singled out. Apparently one can make up to Sh50 million while serving on this committee.
Hardly surprising since the transport sector routinely issues tenders running into billions of shillings, many of which are poorly executed, leading to queries.
It is this context that ridicules well intentioned attempts from civil society, churches, and social commentators to call for honest and public-spirited leadership. It just is not going to happen, not for one or two generations anyway.
A video clip on social media that could have been hilarious were it not for its pathetic message this week ridiculed Dr Mukhisa Kituyi’s announcement that he was seeking the presidency in the next General Election and urged Luhyas to fine him a thousand shillings for each person that attends a funeral to be allowed to address them.
A message reinforcing such inferior – but popular - thinking competes with one trying to explain why it is not normal that millions of educated youth cannot find gainful employment in a country with such scandalous teacher/student ratios or doctor/patient ratios.
It is boring to explain to these excitable mobs waiting for handouts that half-hearted implementation of manufacturing policies smother growth in the one sector that can guarantee employment – agriculture.
That lack of introduction of catalytic policies like a Local Content Mechanism that will legislate use of local content in all goods manufactured and/or sold in Kenya explain the sluggish growth in manufacturing.
And because politicians know what the mobs want, the relationship between them and their voters is built on lies and deceit. They promise jobs, better health, better education, etc. but know that they will not deliver because they will not be held accountable. They just need to show up at funerals with Sh200! To fund these handouts, they in turn have to “collect” through corrupt deals.
Direct cash transactions
The government understands this and plays the game too by “buying” people’s representatives at various levels through direct cash transactions (like the cars) or denial of development funding beyond what must be legally disbursed like the Constituency Development Funds.
This is why President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto are not bothered that anyone will ask then to account for their rather spectacular failure to deliver on signature campaign pledges. The Four Pillar legacy agenda promises too little too late given the time left.
Very little will change even after a new President comes in under a revised Constitution. Listen to what Raila Odinga, William Ruto, Musalia Mudavadi and the other leaders coalescing around him are saying. Even the fresh voice of Dr Kituyi. It is old promises to transform the country into a land full of opportunity. Listen to the others seek elective offices.
And then watch the people. They respond not with their minds but with their stomachs. The vote seekers know this and they give, knowing that they will be reimbursed. Why would they then bother with the more difficult task of providing leadership to empower the voters?