• Tuesday, 21 May 2024
THE STATESMAN OPINION: Voters Should Step Up And Stop Screaming Chapter Six!

THE STATESMAN OPINION: Voters Should Step Up And Stop Screaming Chapter Six!

Integrity. It's a word that commonly became part of our lingo when a whole chapter of the Constitution was dedicated to it. What does it mean? The dictionary defines integrity as the quality of being honest and having strong moral values. How can you tell a person of integrity? Well, they would typically take responsibility for their actions, both good and bad. They have respect for themselves and those they live and work with. They are reliable and trustworthy. 

Now, apply this to the Kenyan context, and to the elections specifically. Now, while the IEBC believes that it is its mandate to enforce the electoral code, with respect to questions on integrity, it is bound by a High Court ruling that effectively said it cannot prevent persons with integrity issues from seeking elective office. Even then, the IEBC itself says its upto another body, the EACC, to furnish it with information on the integrity of those wishing to vie for seats.

Meanwhile, Kenya's foremost public interest litigator Okiya Omtatah, has gone to court seeking to have IEBC's powers in this respect restored. But then there's also the argument that even for those with cases in court, they should still be allowed to pursue their interests in elective politics, so long as they have not yet exhausted all legal avenues. That means going all the way to the Supreme Court. Oh, and by the way, did I hear the courts allowing even murder suspects time off their cases to go off to the campaign trail? Or the fact that the office of the DPP will not be bringing charges on current elected officials to avoid the perception of favouring a candidate or working against others. This is why I have always held the view that integrity is best exercised at the ballot, by the voters themselves. It is up to us collectively as voters to decide who is honest, trustworthy, reliable and who has the moral values that best represent who we want to be as a people. 

For far too long, we have abdicated our responsibility. Given away the power to decide what type of leadership we want in this country. We have left it to the courts, to the electoral management body. Even gone as far as to create a body known as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to do this for us. Heck, we enacted a supreme law complete with a chapter called the Leadership and Integrity chapter, to tell us what we want our moral standard to be? Really? All of this just so that we can blame someone else for the type of leadership we have? Oh, it's the courts fault for allowing them to run. Oh, the IEBC is not fulfilling its mandate to vet the leaders who run for office. We have even blamed the EACC, calling it toothless and unable to rid us of the so-called corrupt leaders. Yet, we elect them. You and I live in this country, you've heard phrases like he is a thief, but he is our thief. You've heard some of us say, it's our turn to eat.

So, today as odd it as it may sound, I hail the courts for saying the IEBC has no powers to bar leaders with questionable integrity from running. I am also glad that the DPP is providing the football equivalent of water breaks for political leaders with cases, including murder charges. Sounds to me like a perfect swamp for Chapter 6 of the Constitution. Do we even need that chapter in the first place? I mean it’s been a while since we deleted anything from a Constitution, may be its time we start there? Whatever we do with Chapter 6, there will never be a greater, quicker and more effective way of doing right for self and country than through that voter's card. That thing can hire and fire, trust me it does. If they have integrity, hire them. If they don't have integrity, fire them. It is that simple. It all fits into one short sentence- whether oral or written. We don't need a whole chapter on leadership and integrity; we just need decisive voters.

That is our take.

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