For Meaningful Economic Development, Kenya Needs to Shed off the Ethnicity Tag

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The Electorate of Kenya since the promulgation of the Constitution 2010 have had the clearest of choices and the tools to elect transformational leadership of integrity that can execute the strategic plan of Vision 2030 into reality.

However, at the same time, they have repeated the mistakes made in the last nearly half a century since independence and elected corrupt leaders who are devoid of Integrity and who have continued to sink this nation into deeper poverty, unemployment, and hopelessness and thereby turning Vision 2030 into a dream, an unachievable mirage.

This is because tribalism and ethnicity have become the fulcrum around which national and local politics in Kenya revolves.

As a result, Kenya has paid the price dearly. The 1992 and the 1997 general elections that held after the return of multi-party democracy in 1991, both witnessed violence, but the violence following the December 2007 election was unprecedented.

This has become the greatest obstacle to structured social mobilization for political and economic transformation in Kenya. Further, this has led to skewed and imbalanced regional development because of the continued tendency of distributing senior public posts along ethnic lines and distribution of development resources in favour of the regions where those in executive power come from.

On the extreme, ethnicity has undermined efforts to hold the state accountable. There has been active citizen engagement in public affairs, but with very little consequence for state accountability because the competition for power takes place on an adversarial ethnic platform.

Prof. Karuti Kanyinga opines that “Most parties are also not formed along ideological lines, but rather on a given leader’s ambition to win elections.”

Kanyinga argues that a critical look at the various party manifestos and other policy documents in Kenya reveals striking and remarkable similarities.

“Furthermore, even where such party manifestos exist, they never form the backbone of the campaign strategies and platform. only major parties in each election year develop manifestos outlining the policies and programmes that they intend to implement once in office,” writes Kanyinga.

If this is the case that “politics holds the key to society”, whether it will progress, stagnate or retrogress, there is a need for a paradigm shift among the electorate.

Getting the right leadership with integrity that defines their vision and hopes may elude Kenya each election cycle unless the electorate rises above the trickery, bribery, tribalism, lies, propaganda of those seeking elective office.

Indeed, incompetent leadership has gravely undermined the pace of Kenya’s socio-economic transformation.

For meaningful social-economic development to be realised, Kenyans must rise up, begin to value their own freedoms, demand accountability for their taxes and hold their leaders to account for the decisions they make on behalf of the voters.

Kenyans must demonstrate to the world that the government of the people by the people and for the people has not perished.