I am sure the majority of you know the story of Jesus and the adulterous woman. However, please indulge me as I tell it for the benefit of those who do not know it.
About 2000 years ago, the Scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus asking what they should do to her. Tradition demanded that she be stoned to death, but the great Teacher, discerning their malice and attempt to corner him put the challenge back to them.
With conviction and I bet a little bit of irritation, He said to them: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Obviously, none of them could stand that test and as a result He rescued her from a painful death.
I am sure this story was not told so as to condone adultery… rather, to impress upon us the need to assess our own lives before accusing others.
Never has a story been more relevant to a situation, than this one is to our political landscape. We have a great reform agenda, a great vision for our country, great leaders in their individual capacities and a great people. But these great things lose their value and meaning in our desire for development because we allow ourselves to be sidetracked by politics (compare to stoning the adulterous woman).
Many of us are feeling frustrated at the very slow pace of reform. If you listen carefully, you will hear the grumbling of Kenyans of every caliber. They are expressing their dissatisfaction with the way we have prioritised politics over development.
There have been many scandals in different ministries, none of which bears more weight than the other. These scandals are financially and emotionally taxing to the Kenyan population. I mean, who wants to wake up every day and read about how funds have been misappropriated in yet another ministry?
Secondly, they have a huge multiplier effect on our society because they cause a redirection of vital resources away from providing a social safety net to marginalised groups. I would not be surprised were we to witness an uprising amongst these sidelined groups in the next couple of years if this trend continues.
However, these scandals are more detrimental to our ability to attract foreign investment because they destroy our image both in the eyes of foreigners and locals. It will become tougher to convince foreigners to invest in our economy, if we have no confidence in the ability of our leaders to govern.
Let us understand that the development of our country is at stake and could succumb to politics.
Let us agree that transparency and accountability are not local standards that we can choose to adhere or not follow. They are part and parcel of the core principles of governance; the ideal that will take us to 2030 in time and not 20 years later.
For that reason, I beseech all of us to campaign for a clear divide between politics and governance. I ask our leaders not to be eager to cast the first stone. We cannot determine the guilt or innocence of the accused person by stoning them with shameful words in public. Neither can we achieve the ideals of governance when we allow our politicians to become the judge and the jury.
My suggestion is that we leave the task of determining guilt to the experts; the Judiciary. Let us empower them through the Constitution such that they are beyond reproach, and our faith in the justice system restored. In the meantime, let us say ‘enough is enough.’
This country belongs to all of us and the youth make up a huge percentage. If the older generation seems stuck in the mud, it is imperative for you to determine the way forward. You must come together and in a singular voice, state what is important to you. You have the ability to determine how the game of politics is played and the development agenda that needs focus. We have only one Kenya, let us do our best to preserve it.
For a start, together we can ask the Civil Society to push Parliament to come up with clear standards that determine how an MP (and/or Senator) will be expected to behave if he or she is implicated in corruption. This will help our country redirect its efforts to development and cease wasting any more energy debating whether a legislator should step aside or not. Ideally, we should have a common accepted practice.
I propose that the Parliamentary Select Committee be tasked with this job as they have proved to be high performers. What say ye? My blog is your voice; feel free to debate this issue here.