The bane of tribal politics

KENYA is on a knife edge as millions go to the polls today.

There is no doubt that a Government that comes into office on the basis of ethnic representation will have little legitimacy, hence the trepidation and nationwide wariness.

There is no doubt that fear and uncertainty will loom large today as the electorate across the country cast their votes to determine how the country will be governed.

The stakes are high and so is the danger that the country could once again degenerate into inter-tribal internecine
reminiscent of the 2007 blood bath.

Since the introduction of multipartism in 1992 Kenya has been afflicted by the blight of ethnic politics driven in mainly by the political elite who call on tribal loyalty to seek, nurture and promote a nebulous ethnic enclave mentality seeking to assume political power.

In all probabilities when Kenyans decide, their final decision may not be on the basis of the competence of those they elect in office but rather it will be in defense of their ethnic group.  This is not what democracy should be about.

Ideally Democracy should be about ideology and public policy options offered by the various competing political parties but sadly this is far from reality.

So far, Kenya has been ruled by four Presidents, three from the Kikuyu and one from the Kalenjin tribal groups. This time round the NASA which represents about 40 other ethnic groups feel that an opportunity for them has arisen.

Sadly again, the quest for power is not based on any ideological merit but the sheer determination that a different tribal configuration should be at the helm of resources, that time has come for the other group to eat.

This is the antithesis of responsible governance, it is a policy that promotes corruption and large scale graft as the group in power directs resources to its ethnic kin to ensure political survival on the wings of entitlement.

In Kenya’s case the ensuing cycle of marginalization, patronage and disenfranchisement has led to bitterness based on the perception that patronage rather than meritocracy has prevailed and more importantly that corruption has been fuelled by ethnicism.

Clearly the 2007 experience is still raw and visceral. It will play on the minds of the voters today and in many other elections unless whichever Government comes into power addresses the issue of a national consensus and ethos.

This makes it imperative that an incoming Government must ensure that the interests of the Luo, Kikuyu, and Kalenjin Luhya who together make up about 60 percent of the population are taken into account through executive action.

The power sharing model that emerged after the 2007/8 brought a semblance of peace. This may again be the answer if the current tension in the country can be channelled into a more positive and productive structure that is all encompassing and therefore holistic.

It may not be neat and democratic but clearly a compromise that promotes inclusiveness is the answer.

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