Kenya must de­velop all the re­gions

Business Daily (Kenya) - - EDITORIAL & OPINION -

For­mer pres­i­dent Daniel arap Moi used to quip that re­gions that wanted de­vel­op­ment were ex­pected to take that into ac­count in their vot­ing de­ci­sions. In his view, bad pol­i­tics re­sulted to poor de­vel­op­ment. As a con­se­quence, re­gions that voted for the op­po­si­tion suf­fered from re­duced in­vest­ments in pub­lic projects.

The ag­i­ta­tion for con­sti­tu­tional re­form was geared to­wards ad­dress­ing in­equal­i­ties in de­vel­op­ment across re­gions. The adop­tion of de­vo­lu­tion was meant to en­sure that ev­ery cit­i­zen ben­e­fit from taxes paid by the pub­lic through in­vest­ments in var­i­ous projects and pro­vi­sion of var­ied ser­vices. The essence was to pro­mote eq­uity.

In ad­di­tion, changes were made to the sys­tem of gov­er­nance and the elec­toral sys­tem with a view to do­ing away with the win­ner-takes-all ap­proach to pol­i­tics and erad­i­ca­tion skewed dis­tri­bu­tion of na­tional re­sources. The ex­pec­ta­tion was that po­lit­i­cal power would be used re­spon­si­bil­ity for the ben­e­fit of the na­tion and all its peo­ple.

Against the above con­text, it came as a sur­prise for politi­cians to en­gage in pub­lic dis­course whose essence was to ar­gue with a very ba­sic state­ment from Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta re­stat­ing that all re­gions of the coun­try are en­ti­tled to de­vel­op­ment ir­re­spec­tive of whom they voted for dur­ing elec­tions. The essence of the de­bate was a sense of en­ti­tle­ment that if the pres­i­dent hails from your re­gion, com­mu­nity or po­lit­i­cal party, then you are en­ti­tled to a greater pro­por­tion of de­vel­op­ment than those who do not share these char­ac­ter­is­tics.

De­spite the clear pro­vi­sions of the Con­sti­tu­tion promis­ing eq­uity in the dis­tri­bu­tion of re­sources, po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship has­con­tin­ued to dis­trib­ute pub­lic po­si­tions and re­sources in a skewed man­ner based on po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions. Con­se­quently, it is not sur­pris­ing that a sense of en­ti­tle­ment has per­me­ated the body politic of the coun­try.

It is not pos­si­ble to trans­form the coun­try with­out ad­dress­ing the skewed al­lo­ca­tions, feel­ings of marginal­i­sa­tion and in­equities in the coun­try. A co­he­sive so­ci­ety is pos­si­ble when we ad­dress all the is­sues that di­vide us as cit­i­zens. Eq­uity on de­vel­op­ment is a fun­da­men­tal as­pect of that process.

How­ever, it takes more than just deal­ing with brick and mor­tar is­sues. From the dis­cus­sions amongst the po­lit­i­cal class and the con­ster­na­tion by some of them to the sug­ges­tion that de­vel­op­ment is a right of ev­ery cit­i­zen and re­gion of the coun­try, there is need to deal with the soft­ware of the coun­try.

This takes de­lib­er­ate ef­forts. The Build­ing Bridges Ini­tia­tive of­fered the coun­try a unique op­por­tu­nity to dis­cuss some of the soft­ware is­sues and set the frame­work for reengi­neer­ing away from just le­gal and in­sti­tu­tional re­forms. While that op­por­tu­nity still ex­ists, sadly the past one year of en­gage­ment has not gen­er­ated as much sup­port for the ini­tia­tive as would have been ex­pected.

The ini­tia­tive’s time­lines have been dif­fi­cult to fol­low as they keep shift­ing. Their pub­lic en­gage­ments have also been few and far be­tween. A ba­sic rule of life is that the lack of or lim­ited in­for­ma­tion ham­pers de­vel­op­ment and cre­ates space for ru­mours.

The Build­ing Bridges Ini­tia­tive cur­rently suf­fers from this prob­lem. Very few Kenyans are fully aware of its op­er­a­tions and progress. With a man­date of de­liv­er­ing some tan­gi­ble pro­pos­als in one year, one won­ders when the pub­lic will get an op­por­tu­nity to com­pre­hen­sively in­put into the nine-point agenda iden­ti­fied dur­ing the 9th March Hand­shake event.

It is im­por­tant that as we start the year 2019, con­certed ef­forts are made to have Kenyan con­verse amongst them­selves and recog­nise that the so­lu­tions to its myr­iad de­vel­op­men­tal chal­lenges lies in rec­og­niz­ing the di­ver­sity of its peo­ple and har­ness­ing this for the bet­ter­ment of the en­tire coun­try.

Kenya’s progress will re­quire the re­al­iza­tion that it is only by sup­port­ing de­vel­op­ment in all parts of the coun­try, em­brac­ing one an­other as broth­ers and sis­ters and liv­ing the spirit of the na­tional an­them that we shall make strides as a coun­try.

It is not sur­pris­ing that a sense of en­ti­tle­ment has per­me­ated the body politic of the coun­try ” AU­THOR

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