BEYOND THE REFORMS: WHAT IS OUR ROLE IN GOVERNANCE AND LEADERSHIP?


BY: JUMA HEMEDI

10/12/2020
In the Sunday Nation of 29th November 2020, Professor Peter Kagwanja opined one of the most interesting articles I have read in the recent past. The article was titled “BBI reforms and the quest for new pan-African intellectual leaders” Professor Kagwanja explains in the article, vital lessons that can be drawn from the ideas and intellectual leadership of earlier pan-African leaders. The article was part of a speech he delivered at the meeting during the launch of the pan-African Congress, Kenya Chapter at Nairobi Serena hotel. I invite you to read the ideas and insights.
Many years ago, Nigerian Writer Chinua Achebe reminded us that “the problem of Africa is simply and squarely a failure of leadership and Governance”. And Professor Kagwanja opines that without a high bar for leaders, elections will simply be safe passages to state capture by transactional leaders, including populists, Charlatans, demagogues, goons and outright thieves.
In one of the interviews ever watched, a British billionaire was asked what he looks for before hiring his employees. He answered that he only looks for three things in an individual;
1. Passion
2. Ability and;
3. Integrity
He further went on to say that in the event a candidate has the first two and lacks the last one, he would never hire such a candidate. And if a candidate only has the last one and lacks the first two, he would hire the candidate without hesitation.
In the run up to the 2010 referendum a whole chapter on leadership and integrity was ebbed into the constitution whose intention was to give criteria on what kind of leaders the people of Kenya wanted. The leadership issues were alive in the hearts and minds of Kenyans when issues to do with education qualifications were passed in parliament just before the 2013 polls. The leadership then in its wisdom decided to stay the commencement of the education qualification part for five years, to take effect in the 2017 elections.
Just before the 2017 elections amendments to the election laws were made and once again the education section was differed for another five years to be effected in 2022, interestingly enough the deferments only affected education qualification for members of parliament and members of the county assemblies. Parliament and the county assemblies are tasked with legislation, oversight and representation. Among their other roles include vetting nominees for state appointments and county executives.
Those who watched the vetting of Prof. George Magoha for the education docket, might have noted that, many in the vetting panel were actually mesmerized and marveled at his credentials and extensive resume that spanned many pages like a novel. Few of them if any would match a quarter of what the good professor had presented. Making some of them feel that they probably are not qualified to even sit in the vetting panel to vet the Professor.
What Marvell’s more is our collective sense of passiveness and complacency we have as a people. We ask that a president and his cabinet plus his appointees at bare minimum be degree holders or its equivalent, yet allow members of parliament whose duty it is to vet the president appointees be of a less education qualification than those that they will vet.
No wonder some vetting and oversight sessions ends up being lectures by the one being vetted or over sighted to those doing the vetting. Even some members are sometimes clueless on what to ask and how they can construct a sentence or a question in English or Swahili.
It gets even worse in county assemblies. Those who watched the swearing in of county assembly members in some counties must have been surprised that some could not read English or Swahili prints of the oath of allegiance. In these counties the governors and their deputies are supposed to have a university degree and members of county assemblies only come in with just a post secondary skill or certificate which could also be computer packages or driving school.
Don’t be surprised that, the courts have been declaring as unconstitutional and nullifying a number of legislation passed in Parliament and county assemblies whenever they are challenged.
Professor Peter Kagwanja concludes that “a lasting solution in the African dilemma lies in the nurturing a new generation of pan-African intellectual leaders with a capacity for critical analysis, strategic perspective, vision and imagination”. The legal reforms of the political system must set a high bar to ensure only visionary and quality leadership with integrity rises to power.
As citizens we must also be guided by the capability, passion, spirit of service, qualifications and most importantly integrity of those we are about to elect into governance positions.
Integrity is defined as the adherence to moral and ethical principles; the soundness of moral character. They are the inner values of an individual. If someone is willing to lie about his education and qualifications, he/she cannot be trusted that he will guide your children’s education.
Juma Hemedi
Sammy Kungu

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