VOTING FOR PRESIDENT IN 2012 KENYA ELECTIONSA friend asked me; “For whom do you intend to vote for President in 2012 now that Kenyans overseas can vote?” I paused and then said, “I will listen to all the candidates, talk to as many people as I can, and read widely about the ideas of each of the candidates. I want to make an informed decision.   


Long ago I stopped believing newspapers, blogs, television or radio. Many Kenyan newspapers publish opinions disguised as news, while radio or television stations spin reports to support favorite candidates. Kenyan opinion survey outfits often use statistics to tell lies and some are actually owned by politicians or their fronts for the express purpose of creating so-called public opinion of the candidates. 


Already I hear the sound and the fury of civic education ahead of the 2012 elections, a perverse process financed by foreign governments to ‘educate’ Kenyans so they can vote and, more importantly, vote correctly. In Kenya civic education is neither civic nor education: it is a ploy that other countries use to determine the agenda in Kenya. A day will come when it will be forbidden for groups to act as conduits for money intended to finance candidates or to bias outcomes – all in the name of promoting development.  Therefore I cannot rely on civil society for my views.


Still, I have not told you my favorite Presidential candidate. It is easier to say who will not get my vote. 


I will not vote for any candidate who should be, but is not on the ICC list for complicity in the 2007-2008 post-election violence. ICC-sanctioned impunity is still impunity; politicians who fuel ethnic, class or intergenerational strife are dangerous. Kenya needs a new start; a new narrative with new faces.


I will not vote for anyone who did not support a local tribunal to hear cases on the 2007-2008 post-election violence, thereby sacrificing Kenya’s sovereignty and giving ICC a veto on our future.


I will not vote for a candidate whose base is mainly an ethnic group and for whom devolution as a code word for ethnic balkanization. We are proud of our ethnic heritage or our families, but we should never use ‘tribal’ chauvinism to exclude or hurt other Kenyans. I see only one ‘tribe’ in our future: Kenyan.   


I will not vote for any candidate whose wealth came from any of the scams that have ruined our economy and hurt average Kenyans over the last twenty-five years – Goldenberg, Anglo Leasing.  


I will not vote for a candidate who parrots every foreign fad or trend as progress forsaking Kenyan values. If our future is driven primarily by what foreigners do or say, Kenyans will be increasingly strangers in their country, playing a role that is no larger than what we played under colonialism. 


I will not vote for a candidate who will not demand participation by Kenyans in investments by non-Kenyans and non-eastern Africans. Experience shows that development achieved through foreign investment is not stable and is often little more than exploitation. Stability demands economic growth, a process that requires significant and consistent participation by Kenyans at all levels.


I will not vote for a candidate who will not commit to ensuring that Kenya is not the exclusive market, sphere of economic influence, or dumping ground for other countries. I will not vote for a candidate who will dismantle current least-cost path to economic growth under which we buy what we need from the least expensive source, even if this attracts the wrath of so-called development partners. Kenya is mature enough to chart its course to the future.


I will not vote for any candidate who is funded by foreign governments. Evidence shows that such funding is always given in return for something of value – preferential access to business opportunities or physical and other assets, support for other countries national interests – in a word, corruption.


I will not vote for anyone who has no track record of initiating and completing development projects other than campaigning for elections or whose engagement with Kenya’s development agenda is sporadic or lacks passion. The role of President demands full-time sincere commitment. 


I will not vote for anyone with dictatorial tendencies, is prone to imprudent statements, or discusses sensitive issues with foreign envoys with all the maturity of an errant pupil before a teacher.   


I will not vote for anyone who does not commit to implement the New Constitution. Our Constitution is good only to the extent that it reflects our ideals and not because it echoes constitutions that arose out of different circumstances in other lands. There are many paths to democracy, it comes in many shades, and some aspects of our pre-colonial societies were indeed democratic and should be preserved.  


I will not vote for anyone who will not commit to a smaller, cheaper government. The Grand Coalition is far too costly: Kenya has to borrow just to pay Parliamentarians. What we have is not a coalition. It is gridlock. No one would expect the Democrats and the Republicans to form a government in the United States. It is a manifestly silly idea. PNU and ODM represent fundamentally different approaches to change: PNU has a tendency toward capitalism; ODM has a tendency towards socialism.   


I will not vote for anyone who does not commit to Vision 2030 as the path to our future. Nor will I vote for anyone who supports, seeks or promises economic or political autonomy for any part of Kenya.   


I will not vote for anyone who has been in Parliament for the last four years and has not consulted his or her constituency, joined in crafting a single Bill, or has appeared in Parliament sporadically and then only to vote for an increase his/her salary. Kenyan Parliamentarians are paid more than those in countries with Gross National Product per capita ten times that of Kenya. It is robbery by the ruling class.


I will not vote for any candidate who has spent time and resources in the last four years in Parliament travelling overseas. 


These are the candidates who will not get my vote.”


My friend said, “While listening to you I have struck out names from the list of declared candidates and it seems to me that none of them is acceptable to you. Why are you so tough on the candidates?”


“The candidates want my vote. They are the ones who are applying for the job. I am the employer and I am identifying those who need not apply for the job. After all, I am voting for my future.” 
Githua Kariuki



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