The season of political campaigning is in full swing. Sadly and predictably so, as the election date draws closer, the political temperature continues to rise ever so slightly with each passing day.
This is an unnerving period that evokes both anxiety and fear among some Kenyans and for a good reason. It is our chequered history in conducting elections and the aftermath.
As with all campaigns, both sides of the political divide have been traversing the country in a frenetic pace in an effort to woo voters. In terms of goodies being dished out, as would be expected, the government has vastly outdone the opposition and will continue to do so.
The government holds the advantage of incumbency which comes with access to the vast and overwhelming machinery of government and resources that can be deployed at will to blunt any onslaught by the opposition.
The government has been making promises of initiating new development projects if it is re-elected, allocated funds for various development projects, rolled out the so called government of Kenya subsidised unga and of course like every other past government, dished out thousands of title deeds across the country.
Lacking this advantage, the opposition can only make promises of what it will do if elected to office. By continuing to target the government’s underbelly through highlighting and exposing its failings including promises from the previous election that remain unfulfilled, the opposition hopes voters will be swayed to vote in its column in the upcoming elections.
The opposition understands that the onus is on the government to explain to the electorate why it deserves another term in office. Viewed through this prism, it can be argued that the government will lose or retain power on the strength of its performance or lack thereof.
On balance though, backed by the advantage of incumbency and the awesome power and resources that come with being in this position, it is fair, in my considered opinion, to argue that in electoral contests, opposition never wins; it is government that loses an election because in their very nature and almost always, elections are a referendum on the government of the day and not the opposition.
Keenly aware of this, on the campaign trail, the government has made every effort to frame opposition as being all talk and no action. Strictly speaking though, it is an oxymoron for the government to urge Kenyans to demand accountability from the opposition when no responsibility was bestowed to it by Kenyans through an election in the first place.
Kenyans elected the government to which they pay taxes and not the opposition. Responsibility therefore rests squarely with the government which must be held accountable for amongst many other things its performance in critical areas such security, infrastructure development, education, healthcare, job creation, cost of living, taming corruption and the list goes on.
During the current campaigns, Kenyans have, and will continue to content with a charm offensive mounted by politicians making all sorts of grand promises and pronouncements with the singular aim of bamboozling voters.
Kenyans must take these promises and pronouncements with a grain of salt, all the while cognisant and alive to the fact that they might very well be just that, empty promises and grand pronouncements.
There is need to be much more discerning and perceptive enough to sieve and distil half truths and straight forward lies. What some political leaders will present to Kenyans as they waltz their way to power is nothing but political rhetoric weaved in empty promises unlikely ever to be fulfilled. They have done it before and gotten away with it. You bet some politicians will unashamedly do it again.
Voters should circle in their calendars Tuesday August 8, 2017 as an opportunity to relentlessly hold to very high standards individuals seeking positions of responsibility and only elect leaders with demonstrable moral courage, principles and conviction to change the country for the better.
To registered voters, the August elections present an opportunity to determine the trajectory the country takes the next five years. It is your vote, so make it count.