Create wealth to address inequality
The world is today experiencing unprecedented trends—such as the new phenomenon of a few individuals controlling the bulk of global wealth. This calls for concerted efforts to address the inequality imbalances between private and public wealth on the one hand and the disparities between the global north and global south on the other.
The distribution of wealth has been a source of much debate among economists and policymakers and in countries such as Kenya, where poverty remains a big challenge for the government, it is important this issue be brought to the fore during the ongoing elections campaign period.
Leaders offering themselves for election at all levels of representation must be tasked to explain what measures they will put in place to create more wealth and reduce poverty in their constituencies.
The culture of candidates giving handouts to voters without offering solutions to their problems ought to be a thing of the past. And this is why it is important for institutions such as the media, in collaboration with civil society and religious groups, to take it as a duty to conduct civic education ahead of the election.
Voters need to be reminded it is not enough to offer support to popular parties or candidates. If anything, they should listen to the campaign pledges and read the manifestoes of the various candidates so they can hold those who win elections to account. Elective office is not just a pathway for wealth accumulation for those who win. It is meant to be a public service whose vision is informed by the broad goal of ensuring wananchi get services that they pay taxes for.
That is why, policies that will affect businesses, agriculture, manufacturing, import and export ought to be at the centre of the campaigns. And those in leadership should, now and going forward, find ways to redress regional economic imbalances locally, as well as globally. For instance, given the high cost of fertiliser, the government should consider imposing tariffs on exports to cushion farmers and increase their margins.
Income inequality remains a serious social-political problem and the sooner policymakers and leaders seek ways to address it, the better and more stable economies will be, and we can avoid situations such as the protests being experienced in countries like Sri Lanka.