It’s imperative all Kenyans respect the presidency

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BY MACHEL WAIKENDA

“I am humbled and honoured to accept the mantle of leadership that the people of Kenya have bestowed on me. I will lead all Kenyans – those who voted for me – and those who voted for our competitors – towards a national prosperity that is firmly rooted in a rich and abiding peace in which unity can ultimately be realised.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta made these words when he was sworn in as Kenya’s fourth Head of State at Karasani in 2013. One year on, the President continues to reiterate this commitment and has visited various parts of the country to oversee development projects.

But if the chaotic scenes, expletive, chair and shoe-hurling hooliganism witnessed in Migori this past week in the full glare of the media is anything to go by, then we all have reason to be very afraid and ashamed to be Kenyan. We appear not to have the same commitment as the President of not only uniting the country but also developing it.

It is not in contention that Uhuru Kenyatta is the duly elected president of the Republic of Kenya – a fact that was confirmed by the Supreme Court. He was publicly vetted by an independently chosen panel to lead the aspirations of the citizens for at least five years.

Article 1 of the Constitution clearly defines what the sovereign power of the people of Kenya is and that it is to be exercised though the “democratically elected representatives.”In exercising this power, Uhuru Kenyatta is the President of all the 40 million Kenyans – those who elected him and those who voted for the Opposition.

He does not represent any constituency as an MP. In fact, Uhuru does have an MP for the constituency he was born into. He is a symbol of national unity and this is why he represents us in international forums bringing together heads of states and not as a governor of some devolved unit of the country Kenya.

The President was voted in alongside a proposed manifesto that promised a raft of initiatives to make Kenya a better place to live in. Uhuru publicly, and in front of global leaders, pledged to uphold the letter and spirit of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 for as long as he bore the Presidential Standard.

And daily, he reminds detractors of the need to be given elbowroom to make good on all the pre-election pledges his vehicle of choice TNA and Jubilee Alliance made to the people. The president has been true to his word and has gone to great lengths to demystify the institution of the Presidency by interacting with Kenyans of all strata of society.

He continues to traverse all corners of the country as is expected of a People’s President, lending the political will of his exalted office to spur development programmes. This, notwithstanding the fact that most programmes should emanate from the grassroots administration units of Devolution led by County Governments.

His administration continues to unveil better ways of doing business, streamline revenue collection, engender patriotism and entrench the “Face of Kenya”. Again, notwithstanding the fact that the former imperial powers of the Presidency were whittled down by the new supreme law, leaving him with the simple duty of confirming, or rejecting names vetted by various constitutionally-entrenched organs.

That some regions of this country are just about to get their first tarmac road, street light or major appointments in 50 long years of independence is testament to the monumental task facing Kenya’s fourth president.

Indeed, after making a lengthy tour of the depressed coastal economy to prove to the world that Kenya is still firmly open for business and tourism, he also fired a warning shot across the bows of the boats of vice, and impunity that they will no longer enjoy ill-gotten gains at the expense of the lives of Kenyan youths.

He was on a similar tour of Migori in South Nyanza to inject much-needed cash into the pockets of long-suffering sugarcane farmers as well as launch a multibillion-Shilling mosquito net distribution programme to save locals from the region’s top killer – malaria.

Even after local leaders set aside their partisan political leanings to welcome the head of State, some hooligans showed their distaste for all matters development and sought to pour scorn on a state function. Even as the blame-game continues, we must ask ourselves why there was no chaos at the stopovers where the Governor, who was apparently the target, also was.

How will the President of all Kenyan get his manifesto implemented in these five short years if there are intolerant elements that have no respect for the person who is meant to be the unifying figure of our society? Indeed, the Opposition Orange party was quick to distance itself from the senseless actions of the charged youth.

This was the right path since the Constitution forbids all forms of intolerance and trampling over the rights of any other community, creed, race, gender, or people’s political persuasion. The era of political party zoning ended with promulgation of the new Constitution.

Did the protestors stop to consider what the ramifications of their actions would be should other counties barricade their chosen political parties from making any visits for trade, campaign, work, or even worship?

If they exhibit such naked disdain for the Head of State, how much less will they regard their very own county government authorities, structures or development programmes?

The Migori debacle exposed a Kenya we should not want.

(The writer is a political and communications consultant. Twitter @MachelWaikenda)

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