Kenya

Kenya has a leadership problem

Kenya has a leadership problem
  • The State keeps voluntarily exposing its people to all kinds of poisonous commodities like aflatoxin maize with zero accountability.
  • How does civic responsibility happen when leadership is deeply violent and abuses constitutional clauses that already allows citizens to be responsible?

The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report and the Kenyan Constitution are similar in many ways.

For example, on safety and security, the Constitution already talks of citizen's consumer rights and calls for their health, safety, and economic interests to be protected.

This isn’t different from BBI recommending the protection of Kenyans from harmful foodstuff and medicines by strengthening food and medicine safety institutions.

The issue then becomes the leadership needed to actually strengthen safety supervision. Kenya is notorious for ignoring its people.

If you recall how women complained of massive side effects of substandard sanitary pads, the State said nothing, neither did it take any tangible action to protect them.

In fact, it keeps voluntarily exposing its people to all kinds of poisonous commodities like aflatoxin maize with zero accountability.

CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY

Furthermore, the report wants public servants subjected to using public services, explaining that if these services aren’t good enough for them, they aren’t good enough for anyone.

Public servants are both stubborn and are often the greatest impediment to the delivery of quality public services. Ensuring they abide is, again, a huge task.

On responsibilities and rights, the report notes that Kenyans do not take responsibility for the affairs of their country.

This misleading assumption presumes that civic responsibility is purely about citizens while ignoring the role of the state in creating an environment for thriving civic responsibility.

The state — through its excessive use of force — has brutalised and even murdered people for being responsible citizens. Remember Meru University student leader Evans Njoroge?

INCLUSIVITY

How then does civic responsibility happen when leadership is deeply violent and abuses constitutional clauses that already allows citizens to be responsible?

On ethnic antagonism and competition, the report states that we need to do away with the “winner takes all” model of the presidency to establish a more inclusive political system.

The leadership needed to create an inclusive political system can't be the same that exists in the current political class that holds the country hostage.

On top of that, the report aspires to ban all public officers from doing business with the government, which the Constitution already alludes to in Article 77 (1) under 'restriction on activities of State officers'.

It states: "A full-time State officer shall not participate in any other gainful employment." But how will a mere report make this a reality if a Constitution cannot?

This BBI report will not fix what is genuinely ailing us; leadership failure and failing to enforce laws and implement reports.

Scheaffer Okore is a policy analyst.