BWIRE: Political ambition should not blind leaders

Residents walking after PSVs were banned from accessing the CBD
Residents walking after PSVs were banned from accessing the CBD. PHOTO| COURTESY

The latest indicator that Kenyans cannot divorce the 2022 election politics from the currently daily lives is the reaction by the leaders in Nairobi over the ban Governor Mike Sonko of matatus to access the City Centre.

The 2022 politics is here to stay and the earlier we accept and include this in our planning of our social, cultural and economic activities the better; for reason and ideology will always be suspended whenever the political implication of any decision made in this country is expected to be negative. And 2022 even becomes far, when you consider that a referendum might be in the offing, thus political interests are high and must be guarded.

Outside the merits and demerits of the move, which has since been suspended, the reaction to the move by the business community and the political class in Nairobi, that dismissed the move, indicated voters are a tool for negotiation in this country.

Senator Johnson Sakaja went to court seeking an injunction and MPs Babu Owino and Charles Kanyi joined the fray citing lack of public participation in the declaration by the Governor.

Cautious and sensitive to the likely political implication of the ban, each political leader took refuge in the plight of the public and by extension voters to make a decision. Suffice to note that attempts by past Nairobi leaders to ban matatus and small scale traders from the city centre previously have failed.

Indeed, so far, it’s becoming clear that as we struggle with implementing the big four agenda, the 2017-2022 period might be wasted years for Kenyans, for political interests have overtaken development interests. It’s even tough that the politics involves the likelihood of the succession of President Kenyatta, and a host of Governors who have served their two terms.

While desirable, keeping the 2022 politics from the national conversations might not be easy as wished.

During the previous attempts to ban matatus, motorbikes and even hawkers, rarely are the economics and social implications for people involved in unpaid work including the poor and vulnerable women domestic workers and small scale traders who live in Nairobi City’s urban settlements considered. For example it was big challenge for the domestics’ workers to access their working places including in homes or the small scale businesses women to pick their items from wholesale markets, or deliver to their clients in hotels in city centre, while given the lack of walking lanes, their wares were stumbled on by the people on the walk.

The business community is worried that the ensuing environment in the country, which is linked the politics and corruption, might erode the hard earned stability that has enabled trade and business development in the country.

An unstable environment will provide challenges to both the Government and the private sector in offering an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and prosper, building of institutional capacity, facilitating infrastructure and service development.

Since early 2016, international institutions and global companies have increasingly recognised a responsibility to make commitments on unpaid care and domestic work (UCDW), in line with recommendations from the UN High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment (UNHLP on WEE). The structural issues of unpaid care work, social norms and macro-economic policies were among the seven drivers of transformation in the Panel’s 2017 report – alongside more commonly recognised areas of work such as women’s assets, laws and business practices.

Given the past experience, where voters are rarely exposed to civil education on matters politics, it might just pay off to accept our political situation and start investing in strengthening our political parties and enhance voter education instead of wishing away the 2022 politics. That is what we are as Kenyans, and to pretend that we will stop politicking is being insincere to ourselves.

Listen to the debates ranging from the two thirds gender rule, the MPs push for enhanced pay packages and memorandum to the Building Bridges Initiative, it’s all linked to politics.

Politics plays a fundamental role in democracy and governance and we must accept, but integrate our national values and key national development narratives in the politics for the good of the nation.

The writer works at the Media Council of Kenya (

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