Waihiga: Kenyan leaders must take responsibility for their actions

French novelist Marcel Proust once said: “Discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

After 33 years of living in Kenya, I now know what it feels like to live in London (albeit for a short time).

I have spent the last three months in what is arguably the financial capital of the world and it has been an eye-opener.

The sheer size of the city, its robust public transport system, the integration of technology and the amount of planning it must have taken to accommodate the roughly 8.1 million people who call this place home, was not surprising.

After all, that is all they show us on our favourite TV shows and on the Internet.

What startled me however is the other side of London and the UK.

“One in 200 people now homeless in Britain as crisis deepens,” a CNN headline written on November 22, 2018 reads.

“London knife crime hits highest level ever recorded, “ is how the Evening Standard chose to cover one of the biggest issues of modern-day Britain on November 18, 2018.

“Organised crime in the UK is bigger than ever before, “ another headline from The Guardian said November 22, 2018.

No one thinks about such realities when considering a move to the Western hemisphere.

Indeed all is not well in the West. That is a fact.

But there are things that I have seen here that make me go green with envy as I wonder when such scenes will ever play out in Kenya.

For example, the UK Sports Minister resigned from her post in early November.

Tracey Couch exited the cabinet in protest over the government’s “unjustifiable” refusal to speed up plans to curb controversial fixed-odds betting terminals.

In her resignation she said: “Two people will tragically take their lives every day due to gambling-related problems and for that reason as much as any other I believe this delay is unjustifiable.”

She took to Twitter saying: “Politicians come and go but principles stay with us forever.”

One wonder’s how Kenya’s political class would behave if they found themselves in similar circumstances.

The country is in a situation where President Uhuru Kenyatta has repeatedly warned several cabinet secretaries over their non-performance.

However,  the CSs do not seem willing to resign and their CEO seems unable to fire them.

One also recalls a most interesting incident that happened in February this year, when a British Minister, Lord Bates ,showed up at the House of Lords late.

He immediately offered to resign due to his lateness, walking out of the chambers to show that he was serious.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister later said the resignation was “unnecessary” and that the Minister had decided to continue in his role.

But his point had been made, public duties are serious and must be treated with utmost respect

To buttress my points even further, UK Prime Minister May recently appeared on television and was heard on radio answering questions about Brexit that is set to take place on March 29, next year.

Surprisingly, during the campaign period, May was actually campaigning for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union.

When her predecessor Prime Minister David Cameron resigned, she took over from him and immediately began implementing what she had earlier opposed.

Whilst many have questioned PM Theresa’s ability to lead this process, I was surprised at how openly she discussed issues around Brexit on public radio and television with ordinary British people.

What if President Uhuru Kenyatta went on radio and television to answer the public’s questions on corruption, the cost of living, the handshake and other issues?

How much of a difference would it make for ordinary Kenyans to be able to be able to pose questions to the Head of State about what they are most concerned about?

While the West battles with its own problems, there is a lot that Kenya can learn about governance, public service and patriotism from this side of the hemisphere.

If Kenya’s political class will not carry out it’s duties as promised during campaigns then it is up to the ordinary mwananchi to play their role in keeping public servants accountable.

Which may be the reason why Kenyans online recently cheered a Tuk Tuk driver who seemingly overpowered two police officers and saw them take to their heels.

The lack of provision of essential services is leading frustrated Kenyans to new levels of defiance.

That, in my opinion, is never a good sign.

What’s your view on this? Write to me on waihigamwaura@gmail.com or @waihigamwaura

Waihiga Mwaura is the 2018 BBC Komla Dumor Award Winner and a news-anchor working for Citizen TV in Nairobi, Kenya.

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