The Kenyan Politics of Deceit, Betrayal, and Bigotry.

The Kenyan Politics of Deceit, Betrayal, and Bigotry.

The Kenyan political landscape is a complex tapestry woven with threads of deceit, betrayal and bigotry. These have been shaping the country’s history and influencing its future. They are elements deeply entrenched in its political fabric and have not only undermined democratic processes but also perpetuated ethnic anxieties and societal divisions.

Historical Context

Kenya’s political history is marred by a legacy of colonialism that continues to ravage its systems to date. The British colonial government used divide-and-rule tactics to maintain control. This strategy sowed seeds of ethnic division that have continued to flourish in the post-independence era.

The struggle for power among Kenya’s diverse ethnic groups has often been characterized by deceit and betrayal. Political leaders understand this far too well and have often manipulated these divisions to their advantage.

Deceit in Kenyan Politics

Deceit in Kenyan politics is pervasive and manifests in various forms. It involves broken campaign promises to outright lies and misinformation. The current dispensation is a perfect case study.

Politicians frequently make grand promises during election campaigns, only to abandon them once in office. This has fostered widespread cynicism among part of the thinking electorate, eroding trust in political institutions.

The culture of dishonesty and lies seen to be the torch flashed by politicians defines Kenyan politics. It is a perpetuated act driven by the mighty including the presidents. Truth is minted as deemed best of government. Often the grey areas in the purported ‘truth’ leave more questions than answers.

Betrayal as a Political Tool

Betrayal has also been a recurrent theme in Kenyan politics. Alliances and coalitions are often formed based on expediency rather than shared ideology. This has led to frequent and dramatic shifts in loyalty.

This pattern of betrayal erodes the stability of political parties and coalitions, making it difficult to achieve long-term policy goals. At best, the shaky systems in the Kenyan jurisdiction as well as other African countries can be credited to inadequacy in systemic continuity.

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Kenyan Politics are characterized by betrayal and dishonesty

One of the most notable instances of betrayal was the fallout between former President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy President, (the current president) William Ruto. Initially allies in the Jubilee Coalition, their relationship soured over time, culminating in a public and acrimonious split.

It is a betrayal that has had significant ramifications for Kenyan politics which reshaped alliances and influenced the 2022 presidential election a great deal. It is not yet the end. Today, the Kenyan voter feels betrayed together with part of the leadership. This is a perfect storm for the paradise in government.

Ethnic Bigotry and Its Impact in Kenyan Politics Context

Ethnic bigotry is a deeply ingrained issue in Kenyan politics. It is often exploited by politicians to garner support from specific ethnic groups. It is a key metric used in branding political outfits to hoodwink and sway voters. The majority numbers of Kikuyu, Luhya, Luo and Kalenjin dictate a lot in Kenyan political formations.

However, Kenya is home to more than 40 ethnic groups, and political mobilization often occurs along ethnic lines. This has led to political loyalty being frequently based on ethnic identity rather than policy or ideology.

The use of ethnic bigotry in politics has far-reaching consequences. It perpetuates division and mistrust among communities, leading to periodic outbreaks of violence. The post-election violence of 2007-2008 is a tragic example. Ethnic tensions were fueled by political rhetoric and erupted into widespread violence. The ultimate result was over 1,000 deaths and the displacement of hundreds of thousands.

Attempts at Reform

Despite these challenges, there have been efforts to reform Kenyan politics and address the issues of deceit, betrayal, and bigotry. The 2010 Constitution introduced significant changes aimed at promoting transparency, accountability, and inclusiveness.

Since then Key reforms have been undertaken which included the establishment of an independent electoral commission, devolution of power to county governments, and measures to enhance checks and balances.

However, the implementation of these reforms has been inconsistent, and the underlying issues persist. Corruption remains rampant, and the influence of ethnic bigotry continues to undermine national cohesion.

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The BBI was an attempt to address some thorny issues within the Kenyan politics space. However, the initiative never saw the light of day as its reception was with mixed feelings. Photo credit; The Standard

The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), a recent attempt to address these issues, sparked intense debate. While proponents argued it would promote unity and inclusivity, critics saw it as a tool for consolidating power among the political elite. It was ruled as an illegal process later.

The Role of Civil Society and Media in Kenyan Politics

Civil society organizations and the media play a crucial role in combating deceit, betrayal, and bigotry in Kenyan politics. Investigative journalism and advocacy by civil society groups have exposed corruption and human rights abuses, holding political leaders accountable.

For instance, the efforts of organizations like Transparency International Kenya and the Kenya Human Rights Commission have been instrumental in promoting accountability and advocating for reforms.

Social media has also emerged as a powerful tool for political engagement and activism. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook provide a space for citizens to voice their concerns, mobilize support, and hold leaders accountable.

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Civil Societies play a big role in the Kenyan politics space in pushing for accountability, justice and the rule of law. Photo credit; The Kenya Times

However, they are also susceptible to misuse, with the spread of misinformation and hate speech posing significant challenges. The greatest of all challenges is the fact that some of the citizen’s genuine concerns get rubbished off as rantings.

The Way Forward

Addressing the entrenched issues of deceit, betrayal, and bigotry in Kenyan politics requires a multifaceted approach. Strengthening institutions, promoting transparency and accountability, and fostering a culture of political ethics are some crucial steps.

Additionally, promoting civic education and encouraging political participation beyond ethnic lines can help build a more inclusive and democratic political culture. Political appointments should go beyond awarding political cronies and loyalty appointments be based on merit and competency.

Also, it is important to start considering systems continuity beyond political outfits. Strengthening and powering systems instead of politicians will eliminate the demi-god statuses credited to politicians currently and empower citizens to take charge of their progress.

Ultimately, the responsibility lies not only with political leaders but also with the electorate. By demanding integrity, transparency, and accountability from their leaders, Kenyans can help steer the country towards a more just and equitable political future. The journey may be arduous, but with collective effort and unwavering commitment to democratic principles, it is a goal that can ultimately be achieved.

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege is the Editor and topical contributor for the Daily Focus. He writes in the areas of Science, Manufacturing, Technology, Innovation, Governance, Management and International Emerging Issues. For featuring, promotions or support, reach out to us at info@dailyfocus.co.ke
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