Let leaders spare Kenya despair, walk the talk
With the swearing-in of President William Ruto, the matrix of the new leadership elected on August 9, 2022, is now fully established. There is a new dispensation across the country. However, the enduring theme of this election was change. The sorry state of the country going into the election was a well sung refrain. Indeed, the ills of the country dominated political discourse in campaigns for months on end.
Campaigns are now well and truly over. This is something that a lot of the newly elected leaders seem not to have come to grips with. Too many elected leaders are still in campaign mode. This is especially so at the national level. In the last couple of weeks, Kenyans have been bombarded with a barrage of negativity. The new leadership, especially at the level of the presidency, House leadership and governors must drastically change the tone and tenor of national discourse.
Negativity and campaigns were woven into one dynamic as the leaders chased votes. They have now taken over and are in charge of sorting out whatever challenges they shouted from the rooftops was ailing the country. They must demonstrate, both in word and deed, that they have moved past that period and have fully embraced the work being demanded of them by their new mandates.
So, enough of the negative rhetoric. Enough of the incendiary and divisive pronouncements that dominated the campaigns. Enough of the polarising and traumatising telling off. Do away with the rancour.
At this point, Kenyans are struggling with so much hardship. They are wondering when things will start turning around now that they have in place new leadership whom they voted in on the basis of their promises. The last thing they want to hear is more negativity from their elected leaders.
Leaders must, therefore, change their message of doom and gloom. People want to hear an upbeat message. People want to hear that, indeed, the trajectory they voted for is on course. So, enough of the “Treasury is empty” and other such talk like how badly leaders suffered under the past Government. Enough of how bad things are. Kenyans have heard it all. They live it every day.
Further, investors are driven by positive sentiment. The uncertainty generated by the impasse before the declaration of Ruto as validly elected was a major dampener on the investment climate in the country. That’s why the minute Ruto was confirmed by the Supreme Court, the securities market reacted by surging forward, a vote of confidence in the stability and predictability that pronouncement brought. Leaders must realise there is a nexus between their utterances and investor sentiment. That’s why they need communication advisors. What Kenyans and the world want to start seeing is a leadership that is brimming with confidence about Kenya’s future. A leadership that, even while acknowledging the adversity brought about by bad governance in the past, is doubling down on the capacity of Kenyans to ride out this storm and emerge victorious. A leadership selling them hope for a bright future.
A simple illustration suffices. When late President Mwai Kibaki was sworn into office on a wheelchair in December 2002, he did not start lamenting about an empty Treasury. Instead, he issued an executive order that the universal free primary education his team had promised on the campaign trail would begin the very next week when schools opened.
The man had not been in Government for over a decade, but he had that much confidence in Kenya and Kenyans. No negative energy, no second-guessing themselves, no hesitancy. Just action. Everybody knows how free primary education turned out to be one of Kibaki’s and the NARC government’s most glorious successes.
So, again, enough of the wet blankets. The honeymoon is over. It is time to walk the talk. And that must start with rendering hope to the millions of desperate Kenyans who cast their ballots with huge hope that their lives would start seeing a change for the better. Leaders, it’s time to drop the negativity. You must talk up Kenya!