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1 January, 2012

Leadership and Integrity in the New Kenyan Constitution

It is up to every member Francis Wangendo of the Kenya Community Abroad - whether registered or just by virtue of being part of the Kenyans in the Diaspora - to get involved to ensure that the implementation of the new Constitution is properly done. That call also goes to our fellow people back at home too.

To facilitate this involvement in the implementation of the new Constitution, let's first demystify the legal language and make it plainer for the so-called common mwananchi.

For many years, the political situation in Kenya has been left to a certain "class" of mostly privileged persons who would gladly perpetuate the myth that they are the only option for the country. If we desire mature, accountable, orderly, focused leadership, we must take action and stop the culture of letting things be - and then heaping blame on the elected politicians.

Just as a reminder, it is very important that the world knows that Kenyans are not by nature blood- thirsty, genocidal death-mongers who slaughter each other every 5 years instinctively during or shortly after election campaigns: this has been a political, tribal, primitive mess that simply has to be stopped - by every one of us focusing on issues - not personalities.

The first tenet of this section of the new Constitution bases public office on integrity and competence in free and fair elections. In other words, the era of casting our votes for candidates with louder mouths, sharper tongues and a more virulent command of insolence must be replaced. We must only vote for sober-minded persons who sell a vision to the electorate based on issues and the discipline to steer their communities and the country toward development rather than petty, personalized, parochial public talk.

The second tenet of this section of the new Constitution stipulates that political leadership must entail objectivity and impartiality in decision-making. This simply means that issues must rise above feelings or personal opinions; favoritism must be stopped and the ego should be subjected to the rule of law.

The question should never be: who is on my side but rather, should always be: what is the matter and how best should it be resolved?

The third tenet in this section states that service should be based on public interest and requires the declaration of any private interest that may conflict with public duties. To clarify this portion, recall that since Kenya got Independence, the political field has been awash with people who have used their position to amass wealth with a malignancy that utterly disregards the law. It has been as though political position has given people the leeway to do short-cuts in business, make the most profit - almost always illegally and intimidate competitors. Unlike other societies where individuals resign their political positions whenever they conflict with personal interest, in Kenya, it seems as though such would be a cowardly act to do: and so people have used political positions to derail the best function of their public duties.

The last portion on this matter demands discipline and commitment in service to the people. To relate to this, recall a time when some Members of Parliament in Kenya were infamous for making a technical appearance parliament - just to keep their seat and continue to collect fat salaries while disregarding the duties of their offices. At such times, the Speaker at parliament would cry every day that there was no quorum to pass important votes on significant motions on the floor of the house. Such shameful absence from duty should stop in this new era. Time fruitfully spent at parliament is the first duty of every elected member - and the President should set the best example by staying abreast of what is happening in the country.

The next article deals with oaths of office and conduct of state officers and what they should not do. Stay informed.

Publicity Manager, KPD
Washington DC, USA ~

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