Politics

This is not the time to engage in puerile politicking

This is not the time to engage in puerile politicking
  • The main players are all looking after their own interests. The voters are mere bit players who are only heard from every five years.
  • Millions of real hustlers in the informal sector no longer have any means of sustenance because the country is in semi-lockdown.

As a ranking member of the Nation’s commentariat, I try not to dabble in politics, mainly because I don’t understand it or its practitioners.

But right now, it is impossible to avoid it mainly because Kenyans have been fed on a steady diet of Covid-19 for so long they have been longing for a break.

Considering how much they love politics, one can understand their enthusiasm once they realised the novel coronavirus was not going anywhere, and its novelty value, if not its danger, was waning. Many are now speculating on what might happen in August 2022.

Once they recognised that their favourite actors in the tragicomedy that is politics-made-in-Kenya were back on stage with all their intrigues, back-stabbing and betrayals, they decided to immerse themselves deeply in it as a means of escape.

Maybe they only needed a distraction from the ominous reality that their lives have been turned upside down, seemingly forever, by the depredations of the virus that knows no class, gender, age, wealth, religious faith or any other kind of orientation.

What is clear is that even as we are living in abnormal times, the old normal is blowing back hard, and very soon we may even forget that those jousting for power could have a decimated population to lord over unless common sense comes back into play.

PERSONAL INTERESTS

However, this is not a cowboy film in which the guys wearing white hats are heroes who will eventually prevail while the villains wearing black hats (or sombreros) ultimately bite the dust.

No, the situation is a lot more intricate than that; there are no heroes or villains in the political game.

The main players are all looking after their own interests. The voters are mere bit players who are only heard from every five years.

If this unbridled lust for political power gets the upper hand, we are likely to forget a fundamental lesson: that coronavirus is here with us to stay and we still don’t know where we are or where we are going with it.

Right now, both mainstream and social media are awash with politics. Nobody knows for sure where it started; maybe it has been lurking all along waiting for a trigger.

The only problem is that because the main antagonists now belong to one family — a ruling party at loggerheads with itself — it is difficult to tell what will happen in this internecine war in which any triumph will be purely pyrrhic.

But that has not stopped armchair pundits, know-it-alls, and politicians themselves from spinning all kinds of theories about the future.

POLITICAL WARFARE

They range from claims about assassination plots, to the forthcoming anointing of an heir-presumptive to the presidency picked by the “deep state”, from the eventual formation of a formidable opposition party by half the members of the ruling party, to the utter disintegration of the body politic.

They also range from the humiliation to be suffered by the dynasties at the hands of the “Hustler Nation”, to the notion that if the hustlers do not prevail, kitaumana (things will go awry).

All these things are being said by people who may not survive this year if they ignore Covid-19.

This intra-party political warfare did not start this year; it started in 2018 when some group started scheming too early on how to take over the presidency in 2022, while another vowed this will never happen.

But the real catalyst was the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga whose ostensible purpose was to cool down hostilities between the government and ODM supporters.

Unfortunately, and quite plausibly, one wing of Jubilee led by Deputy President William Ruto saw the move as an underhand bid to clip his wings and thwart his presidential ambitions.

ECONOMIC RECOVERY

Let’s get this straight; we are in the midst of an unprecedented viral infestation and we have not yet reached a peak, let alone gone anywhere towards flattening the curve.

All the weaknesses in the country’s health system have been exposed and it is not clear how, without divine intervention, we will cope with a full-blown outbreak.

At least 20,000 formal jobs have been lost already while the rest of the workforce is at half pay.

Millions of real hustlers in the informal sector no longer have any means of sustenance because the country is in semi-lockdown, with the most productive areas being under cessation-of-movement rules.

Most business is at a standstill while the economy at large is in dire straits. Indeed, so parlous is the situation that economists predict even if we don’t default on our external loans, we will sink into a recession so deep it will take more than a decade to extricate ourselves.

Therefore, this should not be the time to engage in the kind of full-time political one-upmanship that is in full steam right now.

When was it decided that the country could go back to fatuous politicking at a time like this? When was it decided? Politicians owe us an explanation.

Mr Ngwiri is a consultant editor;