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Kenya’s democracy still too fragile


Last week Jubilee expelled six senators for 'disrespecting the President'. Well, that is not what the Greeks had in mind when they came up with the concept of democracy in classical antiquity: Demos (common) people and Kratos ‘strength’– strength of the people.

Don’t the six have a right to support whoever they wish? Why discriminate when others are behaving even worse than them but are perceived to be in good books with the ‘deep state?

Kenya is a constitutional democracy where the structures, powers and limits of government are spelt out in our Constitution.

‘Disrespecting our President’ is not a constitutional provision. It’s all about Kenyans' political hygiene. The senators are leaning towards Deputy President William Ruto, who harbours ambition, and for that they are being punished.

Kenya has come of age. Since Independence, Kenya’s political leadership has been shaped by politics of personality and not the principles of democracy such as competitive elections, political and legal quality and high degree of individual freedom, or civic liberties.

If President Uhuru Kenyatta and his erstwhile rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga, could shake hands, why is Jubilee expelling its senators for supporting their deputy party leader?

No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government - except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time, said Sir Winston Churchill.

Kenyans need to appreciate that democracy is not just about voter registration and elections, it is much more complicated. Politicians and ordinary citizens have to learn and accept the rules of democratic governance and develop trust in democracy. People must be free from fear, coercion and intimidation.

Abraham Lincoln stated that democracy is the government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

In a constitutional democracy such as ours, everyone is to respect the law. But we behave like there is no constitution and treated to the whims of those in power. People entrusted with our institutions cannot stand up to a bully and rogue state.

Jubilee government has been unpredictable in the last eight years, violating the rights of Kenyans and behaving with sheer impunity. They haven’t realised their mess yet.

Mwai Kibaki, Kenya’s third President, was a progressing and visionary leader. He oversaw policies and legislations that led to economic growth in Kenya. He believed that leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others

“Government will no longer be run on the whims of individuals,” Kibaki once said.

Citizens have been silent and complacent as the political class runs amok. Instead of vilifying public resource thieves, we say they are 'our' sons and daughters. We have not yet understood the role of the Constitution. The 2010 Constitution was meant to protect us from each other and the government.

As the next general election draws near, citizens must ask tough questions on how they want this country governed. Politicians keep coming back to us with false promises in order to get reelected. They are not concerned about the next generation.

Our political parties are ‘tribal outfits’ used as tickets to public office; they lack ideology. Every election cycle ethnic groups come up with political parties. New ones have already been registered and are ready to roll.

It is time to be selfish and look out for our interests, not those of politicians. Young Kenyans must reject mediocrity and the seemingly simmering ethnic tension exploited by leaders to ascend to power.

Fifty-eight years after Independence, our Constitution is still not respected; people's rights are violated and the political class is unruly. Hope is good, but we must act for our own good.

This article was published by The Star.


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