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How Kenyans end up with the wrong leaders after every election

By Jaymo Wa Thika

On August 9th 2022, Kenyans will go to the polls to elect the leaders they will entrust with their lives for the next 5 years. This will be a very sensitive exercise, as any mistake on the ballot will mean another 5 years of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

A vote for the right people will mean a bright 5 years and a firm foundation for our future generations.

Kenya is now 59 years old but it is still struggling to realise its independence goals, something that can be attributed to poor leadership. The 2010 constitution attempted to right the wrongs, especially by introducing devolution which was meant to pull resources down to the grassroots. 

But what went wrong as in many of our counties are yet to enjoy the fruits of devolution?

In 2013, many Kenyans voted in the wrong leaders who, instead of actualising the spirit of devolution, ended up suffocating devolution itself. Counties gave birth to demigods and corruption grandmasters. It became worse than the national government and people started doubting devolution. 

This same mistake was replicated in the 2017 elections as people still voted in leaders for all the wrong reasons.

Who is to blame for the mess? Not the leaders….. Nope. The blame lies a 100% on the voters. They always vote in looters, jokers and people whose agenda is different from that of the common mwananchi. While at the ballot, they follow their hearts (emotions) and leave their brains to go on recess.

Kenyans across the country have been voting along party and ethnic lines as opposed to ideologies and agenda. Others vote using their stomachs, rewarding the highest bidders among those who seek for leadership positions.

There is a very high possibility that the same scenario will be replicated in 2022. There is this tendency of Kenyans being very sharp in identifying what ails them and how and who can be the right person to drive their agenda but all this reasoning always goes down the drain whenever we get to the ballot. 

I never understand this “kasaitan” that enters people’s minds once they hold that ballot pen to choose their leaders. That “kasaitan” is responsible for this confusion of voters at the ballot booth, always confusing Kenyans into voting in leaders for all the wrong reasons.

But how do you identify wrong leaders?

It is very hard to identify bad leaders because, during campaign time, they all put the best feet forward and exhibit their best behaviour in the eyes of the voters. They are usually very generous, humble, attentive to your concerns and too religious. This is the time they pretend to weep with you when you are down and also understand what ails you. They will promise anything, even the impossible.

However, there are a few pointers to identifying a cheat and the wrong choice of a leader. Please allow me attempt to touch on one or two of them…...

(i) You should be very wary of any leader who comes to you riding on a political party or particular leader as their greatest selling point. Those are the leaders whose most conspicuous agenda is the popular party(ies) of the day. Such leaders ni moto wa kuotea mbali…. 

A leader whose speech is dominated by party politics has no agenda for the people and is an opportunist who wants to ride on party euphoria to clinch leadership. After being elected, they will just vanish until the next election.

(ii) The other category of dangerous leaders are those whose speeches are dominated by verbal attacks against their opponents. Their agenda is usually dominated by name calling and tarnishing their opponents’ candidature. One thing to note is that, no one becomes better by degrading another. By doing so, it simply means that they have no agenda other than clinching power, by fire by force.

(iii) They say actions speaks louder than words. Leaders who start projects or register charity foundations some days to the elections are simply opportunists. Those foundations are just dangling carrots to fool the gullible voters. 

Good leaders have a long history of community service, even as youth, in school, church or even at the village level. If a leader cannot show anything they have done for their community, even as a volunteer, that one does not deserve your vote. He/She will do nothing after being elected.

(iv) Another leader you need to afraid of is the type who spends so much in self-branding and employing the services of social media mobilisers and physical hecklers in order to be seen to be popular, whereas on the ground, nobody knows what they do or even stand for. 

These are simply the lot who buy their way into leadership for their own selfish gains. And as I had said earlier, actions speak louder than words. Your actions should sell you and not the other way round.

(v) There are also those who thrive in intimidations and sponsoring skirmishes especially against their opponents. These are people who have no agenda and will only force victory by scaring away competition. They will sponsor propaganda and falsehoods with a bid to drive voters away from their competitors.

All in all, there are so many more pointers to wrong choices for leaders. It is only a matter for the voters to be on the lookout not unless they want to whine for the next five years. 

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