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Self-vetting by politicians can work wonders for us



The aspiration of the Constitution was to thoroughly vet leaders before they got into public office. But as the enabling laws failed to provide for it, Kenyans hope that political aspirants will conduct self-vetting against Chapter Six of the Constitution, on leadership and integrity.

On January 24, Theodore Agnew, a Treasury and Cabinet Office minister in the UK, reportedly resigned, citing conscience, stating that he could not defend the government’s “corrupt deals”. He argued that it would be somewhat dishonest to stay on in that role if he was incapable of doing it properly.

This act of self-vetting should influence our politicians. Many of them have pending corruption cases in courts. The threshold for charging a person in court is usually on reasonable suspicion, which means the basic elements of the case have been proven sufficient for them to stand trial. This puts to question the moral authority of the accused.

Politicians who know they fall below the people’s expectations should honourably vet themselves out of the race for elective posts. Why should one hide behind the slow and complicated judicial system even when their conscience screams ‘Unfit!’? Those whose character is tainted should cede to the majority of Kenyans, whose integrity is proven. Sadly, soiled characters have flooded the political arena, are forcing Kenyans to choose between ‘two devils’.

The analogy of the biblical Jonathan, who gave up the kingship for the sake of David, should inspire our politicians. One pillar of the Kenya Vision 2030 is “a democratic political system that is issue based, people-centred, result-oriented and accountable to the public”. Politics should not be played for its own sake. Leadership is not about outdoing others but cooperatively working to achieve set goals.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was on April 1, 2020 reported to have apologised to Kenyans for the brutality of police officers enforcing a nationwide curfew due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This was a good indication of political maturity. Politicians should learn to own up to their shortfalls and seek the electorate’s pardon them before seeking fresh mandate.

Powerful tool

When politicians make promises and they are not able to fulfil for whatever reason, they do well to be accountable to the people. This will aid the electorate to make informed choices. Honesty is not a weakness; it is a powerful tool to win people’s trust.

Presidential elections in Kenya and some other parts of Africa are characterised by violence, partly because politicians do not concede fair defeat and so resort to unorthodox ways to secure power. But competition results in winners and losers. Losing is not a sign of inability but bravery. Having a personal conviction to surrender after doing your best is a sign of political maturity and self-vetting.

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