For Kenyan politics, what you vote for is what you get. Democracy in Kenya does not produce many prudent leaders. It is garbage in, garbage out. The dominant politics in the country are ethnic and corrupt in nature.
Ethnic politics and politics of greed breed voracious greedy-guts whose sole interests are to devour public coffers. They steal from the public without coming to a close.
In his book A Preface to Politics, Walter Lippmann reckons that,
If the important sovereignty of a country were in what is called its parliamentary life, then the day of Plato’s philosopher-kings would be far off indeed. Certainly, nobody expects our politicians to become philosophers. When they do, they hide the fact. And when philosophers try to be politicians, they generally cease to be philosophers. When it comes to Kenyan politics and politicians, the statement above fits them accordingly.
When it is elections time, many aspirants work indefatigably to get massive electoral numbers and endorsements. They utilize their vast resource of wealth to entice the masses. They even utilize dubious means like bribery and cash handouts. In the end, many of those who win the political seats result in plundering public resources.
When seeking public support, self-interest drives each individual political aspirant.
Some are in politics to escape justice. The nature of having the authority and power gives them reprieve from political prosecution. It also presents an opportunity to influence the outcome of their judgment. Moreover, it is an opportunity for some to hide their past that is full of gross injustices.
Politics in Kenya is a lucrative business. The Kenyan politics are commercial and they lack professionalism. Majority of the aspirants see them as an avenue to make money rather than an avenue to serve public interests. Therefore, they manipulate the law to hike their own salaries. They use their positions to influence government policy for their own selfish interests.
The ability to make quick deals in the form of business opportunities and government tenders draws some into the game. They use the influence and position to exert pressure upon the public resources for self-aggrandizement.
They portray a perpetual appetite to amass wealth. They start new ventures using their hefty salaries. Some even use dubious means such as grabbing public land or engaging in drug trafficking. They later consolidate their power and odds to disguise the wealth they amassed illegally.
All of this is because of greed. As long as the individual has power, they are content. They feel at ease knowing they have authority and infinite wealth even if they under-perform. These politicians thrive in power cravings. They then use this power and wealth to brainwash the masses to vote for them.
Some are also in politics to propagate legacy politics. This is where family members inherit political leadership and concentrate it within themselves. Most of the powerful political families in Kenya have their foundation upon the influence of legacy politics.
The prudent politicians are few among the whole group. They have public interests at heart and work tirelessly to cater to the needs of the masses. They are quick to challenge anything that violates the public interest.
The few prudent and selfless politicians are not often the darling of the people. Still, a minority believes in them. They are the pragmatic reflection of true leadership with actions. They live up to their service for public interest and do not waver from their path.
Lack of professionalism in Kenyan politics is due to the greedy-guts overriding the voices of the selfless ones. In other cases, the selfless ones may opt to keep quiet, often out of frustration. The commercialization of Kenyan politics is, in part, due to the naivety of the Kenyan citizens.
The commercialization of politics in Kenya is both an individual and an institutional problem. To address it, we need to get to the root cause, which is greed. Kenyan citizens should not tolerate politicians who spend cash on them only to dip their hands into public coffers.
When politics become commercialized, wealth and public resources benefit only a few. The few beneficiaries lock out the rest of the people. Public service goes down further in the list of interests for seeking public office.
As Walter Lippmann says,
The indictment against politics today is not its corruption, but its lack of insight. I believe it is a fact which experience will sustain that men steal because they have not anything better to do.
Therefore, it is appropriate to say that Kenyan politicians steal because they lack insight. Even the attempts to legislate pay and allowance hikes for themselves shows both greed and lack of insight. They have nothing better to do. Corruption and lack of insight breed malignant cancer in our politics that needs extensive reforms to cure.