Governing by Lying: On the Death Cards of Drought, Deceit and Delinquency By Sitati Wasilwa
“Everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not to his own facts.” – Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Kenya’s current administration is without doubt an archetype of incompetence and delinquency based on the high levels of misgovernance witnessed over the last six years.
A legendary distinction of the Jubilee administration in comparison with the country’s past administrations is governing not just by lying, but by repeatedly doing so even when Kenyans are dying and suffering because of drought.
In an assemblage of what may be termed as “a grand presentation and sanctification of alternative, erroneous and disturbing facts”, the administration’s purported “machinists” denied any deaths resulting from drought that has largely affected Turkana and Baringo counties as well as counties in the Northern Frontier region.
Contrary to the “facts” presented by the “machinists”, there is undeniable evidence that Kenyans are dying because of the ravaging effects of drought.
Featured twice on Jubilee’s agenda for the much touted but hardly evident development is creation of a food secure state; first through its manifesto, “Agenda for Kenya 2013-2017” harmonized with the second medium-term plan (2013-2017) of Vision 2030; and secondly, through its 2017 manifesto integrated with the third medium-term plan (2018-2022) commonly known as the “Big Four Agenda.”
A vague and totally empty campaign promise that now offers comic relief to politically conscious citizens regards the expected miraculous productivity of the Galana-Kulalu Food Security Project, the regime’s much acclaimed signature programme.
While launching Jubilee Party’s election manifesto in 2017, its deputy party leader William Ruto, in a utopic frenzy, remarked that the Galana-Kulalu Food Security Project would produce 30,000 bags of maize each month beginning July 2018. This remains a politically fat and equally irrelevant statement.
The Galana-Kulalu Food Security Project is one of the regime’s cash cows, a soon-to-be white elephant. A recent article revealed the irrigation project as Jubilee’s equivalent of the infamous Goldenberg Scandal, a fact confirmed by an unnamed wheeler-dealer of the administration.
Unsurprisingly, the irrigation project has been dogged by corruption. The Auditor General has raised fundamental questions about the usage of finances allocated to the project. Green Arava, an Israeli firm contracted to develop a model farm at the irrigation scheme, threatened to abandon its operations this year after not being paid as per the contractual agreement.
Additionally, the regime’s intention to construct dams with the aim of enhancing food production in regions perennially affected by drought and famine has turned out to be a scandalous affair. Ridiculously and unintelligently, the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Agriculture claims that thirty one dams will be constructed before the onset of the long rains. Are Kenyans – politically conscious Kenyans – that stupid to be lied to?
Deceitful PR: Of Food Relief Pilgrimages
To be a gallant politician one must be a master opportunist, a firm believer in propaganda and a “saviour” of the poor, needy and desperate masses.
Close to six decades since the British imperialists ceded political power to Kenyans, ordinary folks are still economically impoverished because of the invisible hand of the tiny elite that has strangulated the country’s economy by plundering resources.
The politico-economic tyranny occasioned by the tiny elite has dominated Kenya’s post-colonial history, a true indication of lack of economic and political independence for ordinary Kenyans. The success of this tiny elite is through the creation of a kleptocratic political monopoly that oversupplies short-term solutions and undersupplies long-term solutions.
We’ve got to remember that the yearly food relief pilgrimages are consequences of short-termism fashioned by Kenya’s tyrannical tiny elite.
Such short-termism keeps the masses in a perpetual state of dependence on the tiny elite and acts as fodder for gaining political capital. Acts of benevolence especially by politicians in helping desperate and poor citizens qualify as deceitful public relations exercises, and such is the case with the food relief distribution activities in the affected counties.
Voting & Political ‘Misleadership’
A country’s economic well-being or lack thereof depends on the nature of its political leadership. But the nature of the political leadership is an outcome of the voting patterns of the majority, and a reflection of the thought processes of a significant number of citizens.
High affinity to short-term solutions meant to address perennial challenges such as drought and famine would be avoidable only if the republic’s politics was based on relevant political ideologies. But as Bryan Caplan notes in his book, The Myth of the Rational Voter, “in real-world political settings, the price of ideological loyalty is close to zero…” No wonder ideologically deficient politics is the order of the day in Kenya.
A handful of Jubilee administration supporters who voted twice in 2017 to endorse the regime’s corruption and misgovernance have suddenly turned into its critics. This is pretence and ignorance.
In fact, Caplan further notes in his book that “voter ignorance opens the door to severe government failure”, and Kenya would have avoided such a failed government if only voters made right decisions at the ballot by not ignoring the terrible record of most of the politicians.
County governments especially in the regions affected by drought need to prioritize agriculture which is a devolved function.
The only way forward for Kenya to avoid humiliating situations like deaths resulting from drought, and food relief pilgrimages is to collectively root out the corrupt, tyrannical and imperialistic tiny elite that promotes state capture hence political ‘misleadership.’ Is this possible? Only if the misled significant majority embraces progressive thinking.
Sitati Wasilwa is a political economist, consultant on political and economic governance, public policy, geopolitics and geo-economics at Savic Consultants, and a youth leader at YMCA Kenya. He blogs at The Insight and Savic Consultants Blog, and can be contacted through email@example.com.