BY NGUNJIRI WAMBUGU
In August 2012, I will go to the ballot to vote for the political leadership that will lead my country for the next five years. I will be looking for a man or woman that is different from what I have seen in this Parliament, because they will be working under a new political dispensation.
I will start from the ward level. I will look for the aspirant who understands that the County Ward Representative is actually like a mini-MP, for the County Assembly. I will look for the person who understands that their responsibility once I vote them in, will be to represent me as regards how I want the ward managed economically, socially and politically.
I will especially be looking for the man or woman who appreciates that the Ward is the closest structure of government engagement to me: because like every other Kenyan, that is where I live, earn a livelihood, school my children, etc.
Finally, the person I will vote for as my first ever ward representative will be the one who will be bold enough to fight for my rights at his level, especially so as to check the County executive government to ensure we do not devolve corruption, impunity and tribalism to counties, as we devolve development.
The next candidate who I will be looking at is my Member of Parliament. Since I understand that the work of this leader is not to fix roads, pay bursaries, donate in harambees, or give my relatives jobs: I will be looking for someone who understands the law. I campaigned very hard for the new Constitution and I will be looking for someone who will go into the National Assembly with no other intention, but to make sure it is fully implemented, and that it is respected by all Kenyans, whatever their level in life.
I will expect a courageous person who can think outside the box, and someone who understands that for change to be effective, it must develop from a new way of thinking and leading. I will especially be looking for someone whose vote cannot be bought because in a house of only 300 MPs representing 40 million of us, I want to know that my representative is guided by a predictable and arguable set of values and principles in every decision he makes, whether wrong or right.
When I am looking for a Senator I will look for someone who appreciates that Kenya is one country, and that no County can be left behind by another in terms of socio-economic and/or political development, if Kenya is to be successful as a nation state. I will also be looking for someone who realises that Kenya, like the Biblical Joseph\’s robe, is a country of many peoples and that it is beautiful because we have many colours.
I will therefore look for those who appreciate the strength of diversity in gender, tribe, race and religion that make up both their counties and the states, and who will use their position to weave this into a strong national fabric that will withstand any attempts to divide us on the same lines.
For Governor I will be looking for someone who I could give Sh3 billion to invest for me if I had it. Someone who knows how to sniff out development opportunities, but is also an expert at managing people, or politics. I am looking for someone with a track record of having built something: someone who understands that the county is an administrative ideology upon which can be established a socio-economic infrastructure that will help me access education, basic healthcare, a good accommodation, and a comfortable, secure and peaceful livelihood for me and my loved ones.
I also want someone who realises that the county is not an independent mini-state, but one in 47 other administrative units that must work together to build a better Kenya for each of the 40 million-plus inhabitants.
For the President, I am looking for a politician like Solomon. Someone who can identify a positive cause for Kenya to rally around. I use Solomon because what he inherited from David his father was a country that had been built around war: but was now experiencing peace.
He knew that the adrenaline of aggressive competition needed to be channelled into something positive, beautiful and new. He therefore took over the project of the Temple, and took seven years to build one of what must have been the most beautiful buildings ever built.
In the process he gave his people jobs, built his foreign policy with the countries that supplied him with materials, and enhanced his people\’s skills in administration, technical work and social relations, as they worked at something they knew belonged to all of them.
I will therefore vote for the candidate who will realise where we are coming from, who will know that we need to be rallied around a national cause, and who will make the new Constitution this cause. The candidate who will make the new Constitution his \’temple\’, and build it in such detail that the whole country will know that he cares, and that what he is doing is not for him, but for all of us, has my vote.
Interestingly as I was analysing the above I also realised that it is highly possible that I could make a mistake and elect the wrong person in one of the offices above. On this basis and after a careful study of my expectations of each I have decided that it must not be the County Ward Representative, MP, Senator or Governor … yes, as surprising as this might sound, especially with the big hullabaloo about the need for the \’right\’ President in 2012, I am personally convinced that I can afford to make a mistake with the President.
I have realised that even if was I to elect the worst possible President in 2012 but get it right with all the others, the \’wrong\’ President ability to deviate from what I want done is very, very limited, if the National Assembly and devolved leadership does what I, as the Kenyan voter, wants.
Thank God, again, for the new Constitution.
(Ngunjiri Wambugu is the Director of Change Associates Trust)