September 21st 2017

Top Stories / 2017 Elections

Ruto, Kalonzo absence a contemptuous attitude upon the electorate and media

The DP’s communication Secretary, Mr David Mugonyi, tweeted, reverberating the sentiments of his boss (and I conjecture party’s position): “There have been no meetings to agree on the ground rules such as date of the debate, dos and don’ts, what’s expected of participants.”

By Athanas Kipchumbaakipchumba@kenyafreepress.comWednesday, 19 Jul 2017 12:01 EAT

Japheth Kayulu’s running-mate Eliud Muthiora Kariara at the debate pannel.

We had huge expectations on the big televised debates that were due Monday evening. Kenyans in their numbers in every nook and cranny of the republic, and also the diaspora remained glued to their television sets with a singular anticipation: The much-hyped running mates debate.

They waited with the patience of the Biblical job. Nursed their patience with shooting the breeze about the possible bottom line of the national televised debates and perhaps entertaining tangentially the thought of the participants’ likelihoods of not showing up.

Bear in mind that, under the political circumstance we’re entangled in, not much would have been achieved in terms of changing the voters’ mind. Especially those who have been ‘enslaved’ by the tribally-powered politics. I could be sounding like ‘there was no need for attending such important debate’ if nothing ‘tangible’ comes out of it. Either way, we can’t wish away the fact that our leaders are fully informed of the basis upon which we decide to support certain political party or alliance.

They are cognizant of the reality that engaging in issue-based politics would bring them into sharper focus of scrutiny by the now-benighted-masses and the possibility of being weighed in the scales of accountability over their mode of governance and style of leadership, would be incontrovertibly high. Our leaders across the political spectrum have worked round the clock to make sure that we subscribe to divisive, exclusionist and selfish non-issue-based politics. This underscores why they are despicably turning down serious platforms like the televised presidential or presidential running mates’ discourse[s].

Having said that, let’s concentrate a bit on the host of pretexts the participants gave. As part of the causes why the DP couldn’t show up for the debate, Mr Ruto tweeted on Sunday: “I am surprised no one has engaged me on the debate. Courtesy demands that date, time and rules of engagements would have been made available.” This would swiftly create an impression, which is dead wrong, that the steering committee failed to consult the participants. And if they did reach out to them, the consultations were inadequate.

The DP’s communication Secretary, Mr David Mugonyi, tweeted, reverberating the sentiments of his boss (and I conjecture party’s position): “There have been no meetings to agree on the ground rules such as date of the debate, dos and don’ts, what’s expected of participants.”

He proceeded, “We fear no debate. We have made ourselves available to the media before and we will continue to. We can debate all and sundry, including the so-called NASA principals at one go.”

In a similar version, the National Super Alliance through Mr Salim Lone, its Communication Secretary, went on record stating that it will not participate in the debate…

Fast backward, on Monday evening the Harambee Annex, which spoke in a language that captured the tone of reprimanding the debate organizers on the basis of “deliberately failing to engage the participants.” Well, it’s noteworthy that these statements revolving around “failure to consult the participants or lack thereof” rings hollow because if that was the case, then Eliud Kariara wouldn’t have shown up.

Or does it mean Japheth Kayulu’s running mate who happens to be among the so-called ‘fringe candidates’ or political minnows, was the only the steering committee consulted? Some of us stopped being fooled umpteenth years ago! In my view, our politicians thinks they can take all and sundry for fools; which is shockingly a mockery of the voter who happens to be their employers.

According to official positions of the Presidential Debating Media Limited, it is crystal clear that our political leaders are taking everything for granted. Their excuses are far from convincing any right-thinking person that they were justified to skip the debate which cost an arm and a leg.

It emerged during the hearing of Mr Abduba Dida’s petition in the courts which sought to stop the debate, that the Debate Media Limited expended a swingeing Sh100 million! The media had only one pivotal agenda: provide the voters with the serious platform to engage directly their candidates, while at the same time giving the leaders a rare opportunity to sell their agendas to the electorate as the serving leadership defends its performance record…

Sadly, that was never to be! Both the media and nineteen million eligible voters who are set to cast their votes on 8th August were simply left with rotten egg on the face. Political leaders should not be let to ‘go away with.’ I think it’s time the wananchi and Fourth Estate go back to the drawing board and devise a way on how to deal with this contemptuous leadership, with a  view to discouraging the recurrence of such a debacle.

The notion that the Debate Media Limited didn’t engage in elaborate consultation with the Political candidates is simply not true by the statement issued in response to lame excuses by the steering committee chaired by Wachira Waruru which sought to clarify that the ‘there was adequate consultations’.

In a statement read on  by Citizen TV’s Hussein Mohammed, the committee stated: “On May 9, the steering committee of the Presidential election made preliminary announcements of its intentions to hold a separate presidential debate. We however embarked on preparations process because it was clear that a  huge amount of resources would be needed to prepare for the debate, despite the fact that there were no formal nominees at the time…”

The bottom line of that ‘bungled’ debate painted a picture of political elites of diverse numerical commands, appallingly contemptuous attitudes(on everyone including the voters whom they expect to vote them in and media which has been popularizing them via coverage), disrespect for rules/laws and leadership that’s hell-bent on running away from accountability.

Now that we already know how our leaders behave, are we ready to teach them a lesson or two on the kind of leadership we want? Our political elites should be disciplined properly at the ballot, if we expect them not to misuse the privileges we have given them. We’ve entrusted them with the powers which, to our utter dismay, have been misused to mistreat and arrogantly hold the “power-givers” with contempt. 

Such obnoxious behavior should be nipped in the bud.

Kipchumba is a staff writer/columnist at the Kenya Free Press





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