Leadership and integrity have in recent years emerged as key development issues in Kenya.
Solving complex problems requires a team of highly ethical and talented people with good strategies, but it seems there are people who benefit when a country is underdeveloped, and people suffer.
With the current scenario, it seems anything goes in Kenya, and you don’t have to be a person of integrity to make it in life.
Corruption has become synonymous with success, and integrity is no longer a virtue to boast about. Fortunately, policy makers, business people, professionals and professional bodies and civil society organisations are confronting the issue openly.
But not so to the Kenyan political class, who, as history has shown, betray these basic elements of integrity. Political leaders in most instances don’t exhibit values allied to integrity.
However, divorcing integrity and leadership and hoping to have an accountable and transparent society is futile. Common knowledge supports the assertion that integrity is essential for effective leadership.
Reality, however, indicates that in order to get trustworthy and reliable leaders, potential candidates in an election must pass the integrity test.
But how can this be achieved?
First, beyond this election, political parties must continually ensure that the candidates nominated are persons of high ethical and moral standards.
A person is said to lack integrity when there are serious unresolved questions about his honesty, financial probity, scrupulousness, fairness, reputation or commitment to the national values set out in the Constitution.
Secondly, the capacity of institutions mandated to check on the integrity of Kenya’s leaders must be enhanced for effective implementation of Chapter Six of the Constitution.
Thirdly, it is the duty of every citizen to elect leaders of integrity. It is the role of the public to make sure that leaders are cognizant of the laws and structures in place.
As the country scales the development ladder, corrupt leaders will be judged on their own. There is hope because as people gradually become aware of their rights and the moral fabric improves, the people will demand that leaders adhere to the rule of law.
It is noteworthy that, no one country started off at a high leadership pedestal as this is a continuous process of improvement. In every journey, there is a starting point and various stops before one gets to the finish line.
Some of the developed countries went through turbulent times to reach the high levels of maturity of their democracy.
The large numbers of people sometimes seen cheering their leaders even when they are wrong is a measure of our level of development.
As we continue to develop, people will not have time to go shouting or screaming politicians’ names for a small fee. As a country, we will soon get to this level, where election comes and goes.