What you need to know:
- Kenyans entered the election under a cloud of extreme despair and frustration.
- Unemployment and under-employment have created widespread despondency and anger, especially among the youth.
- The government is guaranteed to fail if it does not tackle corruption with a ruthlessness that no past government has done.
A voter turnout of about 65 per cent in an election marking a transition from one regime to another, like we had last week, is generally disappointing and could suggest that the impressive crowds that were constantly flashed allegedly from campaign meetings of the two leading presidential candidates were Photoshop fakes.
But it also could be that Kenyans were sending a message of disappointment in the whole political circus.
Kenyans entered the election under a cloud of extreme despair and frustration.
The cost of living continues to skyrocket with no sign of a reprieve soon.
The token intervention of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government that temporarily retained the price of petrol at Sh159 a litre and reduced the price of a two-kilo packet of maize flour to about Sh100 (for a variety of brands) was laughed off for the political joke that it was.
Price jump on petrol
Kenyans know that the prices of those two key items will shoot up as soon as the dust settles on the election.
And with the inevitable price jump on petrol, the prices of other items will follow suit.
Parents across the country are worried about school fees they will be required to pay soon after this interrupted school term ends, a few weeks after they struggled to pay fees for the new term five weeks ago.
In the arid and semi-arid lands, hunger and death continue to stalk thousands as drought retains its fierce grip on the area.
There are no prospects for rain soon, meaning even more misery for the people. Across the country, food insecurity is real for millions.
Harvests in traditional bread basket areas of Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Trans Nzoia and Bungoma are not promising.
Unemployment and under-employment have created widespread despondency and anger, especially among the youth.
Confronted with such a grim reality, politics and voting must take a secondary role.
The clear message here is that the priority of Kenyans is not politics. It is survival.
This is what the new national and county governments must respond to.
They must provide Kenyans with an environment that repays their industry and hard work; celebrates their creativity and stirs their passions. This is going to take a lot of doing.
The reality of governance is unlike the heady seduction of politicking, where, like someone wooing a potential mate, often lofty promises are made that cannot and will not be fulfilled.
In governance, adjustments have to be made to accommodate other interests that must be carried along if certain objectives will be met.
At the time of writing, for instance, results indicated a balance of parliamentary strength between the Kenya Kwanza Alliance and Azimio la Umoja coalition. This is either very good news or a discomfiting reality for whoever wins.
Most governments in the past failed the first test of making a statement of intent through the people appointed into key positions in government.
The impulse to do right always falters against the wave of rewarding cronies, family and tribespeople.
Promises made and pacts entered into in return for political support or just for loyalty take precedence and incompetence, sloth and arrogance very quickly stand in the way of delivery of services to the people.
It is definitely going to happen this time too, but the new president must temper this significantly because the price of failure is higher than it has ever been.
Apart from the distressing environment I have described above, the government simply does not have the enormous resources required to jumpstart the economy and pay its debt.
It must have the courage to try to rein in the excessive wastage in government and curb the urge to live well beyond the confines of approved budgets.
It must align the budgets to shoot for realistic targets that yield high-value results for the majority of the people at relatively lower costs.
It must, for instance, focus on maintaining the many new roads that have been built rather than continue building new ones while the existing networks deteriorate. Many of the new roads are already deteriorating.
And the government is guaranteed to fail if it does not tackle corruption with a ruthlessness that no past government has done.
Campaign rhetoric did not inspire much confidence and one hoped that donned with the cloak of power, the new government will punch much harder and with real intent.
No one really needs to remind the new government of the enormity of the task ahead. It just needs to quickly transition from a peddler of hope into a performer. Kenyans deserve no less.