After the much overly advertised Kenya Presidential Debate in July 2017 between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, I looked forward the next day for insights on the performance of the NASA flag bearer Raila Amollo Odinga. I had not decided who to vote for before the debate. Not that I have decided but the discussion helped in deciding
Debates are important for people like me who do not have time to attend political rallies.
There is no better place to get that other than the prime time TV talks with political analysts who are mostly politicians themselves. They confuse people by disagreeing on even fundamental questions that they shouldn’t.
I agree with Herman Manyora, a lecturer at the University of Nairobi and frequent analyst on prime time talks, that there is a growing number of Kenyan voters, not many but very few, who resonate with the idea that Kenya presidential candidates have to debate for Kenyan voters to decide who to choose.
These calibre of the electorate are gradually growing by the day perhaps significant enough to dictate things by the next general election.
Although Kenya is still not a thriving democracy with most voters being swayed based on their tribal groupings, there is a group of the electorate who have intermarried and prefer having candidates who do not lean towards their tribes.
They seek leaders who have a vision that is far beyond their tribal backgrounds.
What if we ban political rallies altogether and replace them with a series of debates with properly structured ways of addressing voters? Or better still the government employs every eligible Kenyan such that it will be uneconomical to traverse the entire country lying to jobless Kenyans with gimmicks and outright propaganda?
Political Analysts on TV Influence Opinion
What will be prevalent is issue based politics where the history becomes an integral part of the evaluation of a candidate. Political analysts in Kenya side with different factions. The idea of having these analysts on TV analysing say, the Kenya presidential debate 2017, only confuses voters who look up to them as opinion leaders.
Political analysts insights on trending matters in the country are important in shaping the leadership. Unfortunately, political analysts in Kenya take sides and differ even on obvious topics like whether the debate is necessary or not.
The type of political analysts Kenya would like to see is Barrack Muluka type of critics who tend to see through the idea of each political party succinctly. Kenya would like to listen to respectable journalists who are not aligned to any political affiliations. I would like to see political analysts who call a spade a spade.
I congratulate the Kenyan media owners for trying their level best to have the Kenya presidential debate 2017 despite a disappointing end. At least it was a good start, and the pitfalls exhibited in 2017 elections would not be repeated in the next election.
I recommend senior journalists in Kenya to step up their level of discussions and engagement to stop political sycophants from playing with our wits on prime time discussion on matters of national importance.