Integrity, gender parity key factors in picking next crop of leaders

Raila Odinga and Martha Karua

ODM leader Raila Odinga and Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua during a political rally.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The picking of running mates by the two leading coalitions this week signals what each side holds dear with regard to integrity.
  • And going by the polls, it appears that Kenyans will reward and punish those choices come August 9.

Good governance crusaders sometimes throw up their hands in frustration, as Kenyans don’t seem to care much for the fight against corruption. Others argue that there is no political dividend in fighting graft.

They feel that the vice has gained so much social acceptance that removing the reputational risk is being found corrupt. They cite the fact that religious organisations routinely accept donations from individuals facing graft charges with no hesitation at all as evidence of this moral decay.

Yet others recount the tale of Hon Matu Wamae. In the 2002 parliamentary contest for Mathira, the voters in Karatina reportedly asked Mr Wamae to stop complaining that his competitor was using ill-gotten wealth in the campaigns. Rather, they said, he should also go steal and bring cash for them to eat!

But there is reason to hope. Here is why.

The picking of running mates by the two leading coalitions this week signals what each side holds dear with regard to integrity. And going by the polls, it appears that Kenyans will reward and punish those choices come August 9.

Azimio presidential aspirant Raila Odinga gained seven percentage points in the most current TIFA opinion poll on the back of his announcement of Ms Martha Karua as his running mate. His main competitor suffered a four percent decline in naming his. This leaves Mr Odinga in the lead at 39 per cent of the decided voters, compared to his competitor’s 35 per cent.

There could be several explanations for this change in poll fortunes. But consider that TIFA were comparing their polls of May 5 and May 18. That is immediately before and after the announcement of the running mates, which was the only political event of significance in that two-week period.

Gender and character

Both running mates are from Mt Kenya region.  So, geographical background cannot be the reason for the poll results. This leaves two other plausible explanations. Gender and character.

No doubt the choice of a woman as running mate is a step in the right direction for the nation. Some cannot resist the temptation to draw a comparison with the Biden-Harris ticket in the US. All in all, a significant gain for gender parity, and equity in leadership. We should all be pleased.

Equally compelling is the choice of someone whose integrity is beyond reproach. The Azimio running mate has a long history in law making, constitutional development and a squeaky-clean public career.

Further afield a number of gubernatorial contests are also shaping up along the lines of proven management performance and integrity. For example, in Nairobi and Laikipia counties, Azimio has fielded candidates with known corporate management history and who score highly on integrity.

In the Laikipia campaign, citizens are taking to the podium at every stop. In an amazing show of citizen empowerment, they have been stepping up of their own volition, and their message is unequivocal. They want leaders who are untainted by corruption, because integrity is the cornerstone of good governance.

@NdirituMuriithi is the Governor of Laikipia

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