Imagine for a minute you are a law abiding, hardworking, tax paying Citizen who puts in a lot of hard work everyday. But every month when you budget, you always seem to have more bills than money. Indeed it’s a constant struggle to prioritize which bills to settle. School fees for your children is quite a challenge and the new school semester comes up in a week. Two days ago you set up an appointment with your SACCO, but suddenly it does not look too good. Last semester’s loan needs to be settled first. As you go through your phonebook, looking for new loan guarantors, your cellphone rings, its your aging parents who need to replenish their medical supplies and mom is due for a checkup, her arthritis has nearly immobilized her.
Most families spread across the country are barely making it through. If it were not for a deep belief in a higher power, most would have given up.Things are getting tougher but the ever resilient Kenyans are somehow trying to get by. Fuel costs are rising by the day, inflation is at double digits and it’s now official with a barely stable healthcare system you cannot afford to get sick. The picture looks gloomy, and yes the dark clouds which engulfed our country at the beginning of 2008 are yet to fully clear. In a country where public conversation has been dominated by political self interest, and hypocrisy masquerades as nationalism, we are now being taken through early campaigns for elections that are three years away.
Like most Kenyans, I am fatigued by the politics of the land. What I need right now is a break, but wait a minute, this is not a reality show, which ends once the credits roll, I cannot just take a break, this is the real thing, its living in 2009 Kenya. As such, it’s important to ask some tough questions and demand answers from fellow citizens crisscrossing the country seeking support for an event three years away.
1. What’s your Political Philosophy? What ideology fuels your ambition for the highest office in the land? We have been lambasted by the harsh criticisms you have laid on fellow citizens competing for the post, but what you have not told us is what you exactly stand for. You have not told us how you offer a better alternative and from what ideological anchor you base your solutions. What are your core convictions? Are you to the right, center or left? If you know what I mean, break it down to me.
2. What Policies have you advocated either as a legislator or private citizen? It’s amazing how seduction by eloquence takes center stage and becomes a substitute for issue oriented political discourse in this country, but I got news for you, lately citizens are paying close attention, to the eloquently delivered words. We want to know if what you say with your mouth is indeed what you believe in your heart and have actually worked to make it happen. What policies/bills have you sponsored over the past few years since you were elected to parliament? Or maybe when you were still a private citizen? Are you waiting to be president to make things happen? We are now looking at track records.
3. What’s your plan for National Cohesion? Our country just barely survived civil strife, which was brought about by your colleagues, and though I want to believe that in the 21st century Kenya tribe no longer determines educational and professional opportunities or treatment in the civil service, I am confronted with statistics and incidents that largely leave my hope unfulfilled. It is shameful that we are not an ethnic-blind society, and though we want to define ourselves by the caliber of our dreams, not by the systematic limitations that successive administrations since independence have placed based on ethnicity, I find myself sadly brought back to reality: ethnicity still determines a lot. I’m not naïve to believe that forty six years of ethnic polarization can be erased by the stroke of a pen, but I believe that the next leader can fast-track the process and bring about national cohesion. So tell us what’s your plan? We are waiting.
4. What’s your economic Philosophy? Over the past few years official statistics have indicated economic growth. What I am curious to know is why the growth has left close to 60% of the population behind. Indeed in our context, growth does not necessarily mean poverty reduction, but can we really afford to officially record growth, and leave the majority of the population behind? What does it say about the effectiveness of our economic model? I’m not an economist, but I know when an economy is doing good. Talk to me about the rising cost of living, why are the key indices of the economy looking gloomy?
5. What will be your agenda, within the first 100 days? We do not expect government to be the solution to everything, but we expect our administration to be a defender of all inalienable rights. On that score, we are allowed to pass judgment. Most citizens have sunk into cynics due to past experience.
It’s well known that the heartbeat of any administration is felt within the first 100 days. I want to know what you are going to prioritize. Our country is plagued by numerous challenges, a crumbling infrastructure, struggling healthcare, falling standards of public education, endemic corruption, an agricultural sector that is stuck to the 19th century. Let me be a little gracious, something is currently being done to address these challenges, but as you know, politics really is a contest of ideas and what I want to know is your better ideas.
6. Faith: A common argument we have heard whenever the issue of faith has been brought up is, lets separate faith and politics. It’s been an argument that compartmentalizes aspects of life and separates faith from the secular, faith from morality, faith from public service. The argument that spirituality is private and individual has gained momentum and any attempts to inject questions of faith into the political discourse have been met with resistance and strong opposition. While spirituality is not a benchmark of qualification to public office, it is the inner impulse that finds outward manifestation through our worldview and action. Faith is a powerful lens with which individuals view the world, and ultimately make decisions that direct their action. That means that some key policy decisions that you will make, when you are my President will mirror the spiritual convictions embedded deep within your soul, and therefore before I give you my vote. I have every right to get a glimpse into your faith since the direction you take my country, will to some extent be guided by your spiritual compass. If you don’t ascribe to any faith, don’t be afraid to let me know, there are many other benchmarks that will guide my vote.
Well, I know you are busy about to get to the next rally or hog the limelight in the next available Press Conference, so other questions will come to you later, but I know many patriotic Kenyans have lots of questions to the politicians aspiring to be our next chief executive, the challenges of our times are too numerous for us to carry out inadequate job interviews for our next president.
By Paul Achar