February 25th 2018

Opinion / Commentaries

Kenya needs more openness in public appointments

The vetting process needs to be made public to avoid events such as those witnessed in Eldoret last Tuesday. Without information, rumours have a tendency of thriving, depending on the persuasiveness of those who are spreading them.

By Thomas Matalangatmatalanga@kenyafreepress.comWednesday, 28 Sep 2016 11:24 EAT

The recent spate of events at Moi University in Eldoret leaves a lot to be desired from the local legislators and general leadership of the region. The fact that they vehemently  opposed the appointment of Prof Laban Ayiro to the post of acting Vice Chancellor because he wasn’t from

"their" community goes to show how politicians have turned our tertiary learning institutions into political battlegrounds.

Governor Jackson Mandago of Uasin Gishu and his Elgeyo-Marakwet counterpart Alex Tolgos last Tuesday clearly demonstrated just how low the country’s leadership had sunk. It also showed our endless capacity to sink deeper and deeper still. Sometimes we think that we couldn’t possibly drop lower. Yet someone always proves us wrong. 

It isn’t the first time that Governor Mandago has been involved in such an incident. He was involved in leading a protest against physically and psychologically challenged survivors of the Garissa University attack seeking temporary refuge at the Eldoret campus.

The action by these leaders has undoutedly evoked strong emotions in the hearts of many Kenyan considering that it was in Eldoret County that the ugliest chapter in the post-election violence of 2007-2008 was written. This was so because of negative ethnicity instigated by such self-centered politicians.

Kenyans should not be shy of talking about the growing tide of negative ethnicity. When leaders stir up their tribesmen, we haven’t had the courage to name the involved tribes. The media normally reports of “a certain community or certain communities.” This is always in the false belief that covering tribal fire with the palm of our hand will stop the inferno. This hasn’t helped, instead the merchants of tribal hate have only grown bolder and more arrogant. The only way to stop this ethnic profiling is by talking straight to these champions of ethnic hate and exclusion. 

To stop the ethnicisation of our institutions, it is key that adequate and urgent aid be given to those children and youth who are students living in atrocious conditions in ‘remote’ areas of the country. This goes with the fact that they are still expected to be competitive, aside from the fact that the very same crooked environment makes it difficult for them to boast of  academic excellence, with only a few students managing to navigate the system successfully and compete in a favorable manner in the modern economy. 

Politicians take advantage of the ignorance among these young men and women to propel ethnic biasness. These demonstrations are what could potentially worsen the delicate social fabric that holds Kenya together. Remember, it is such activities and utterances by these very same politicians that steered the country to the 2007-2008 Post-Election Violence.

Our leaders ought to steer us towards more healthy ethnic relations but at the moment there isn’t much hope in them to do that after the recent spectacle at Moi University. Kenya is witnessing the hardening of negatively driven ethnic formations in its politics. At some point in the future we might just have to suffer the consequences of the actions of these despicable politicians if we don’t put them to task over their utterances as well as their ethnical biasness.    

Kenya needs to reassess the openness of appointing authorities in issues such as the Moi University incident. The vetting process for appointing the  VC of Moi University needs to be made public to avoid events such as those witnessed in Eldoret last Tuesday. Without information, rumours have a high tendency of thriving. 

It is only then that political leaders will stop ethicizing our institutions as well as propagating ethnical biasness on a national level and our students from marginalized regions will  be able to successfully go through the education system and come out as competitive individuals boasting of academic excellence. This will tremendously contribute to a better Kenya, which will appreciate the benefits of our diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Matalanga is a student of journalism at the East Africa School of Media Studies and an intern writer at the Kenya Free Press.

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