Tuesday, September 9, 2008



September 9, 2008
The Standard Commentary

Nobody is much surprised that the latest poll of citizen’s opinions shows, yet again, a disconnect between the daily preoccupations of the average politician and their constituents.

Worse still, the disconnect appears to have a direct effect in maintaining the divisions created in the lead to last year’s General Elections. This calls for a change in approach by leaders.

Despite general satisfaction with the running of the Grand Coalition Government and high approval ratings for Parliament, President Kibaki and, especially so, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, leaders come in for criticism for political jockeying at the expense of initiatives that can improve people’s livelihoods.

According to the poll, rampant poverty and soaring inflation topped the chart of the concerns Kenyans wanted addressed. Others were energy costs and unemployment. With four of the five top issues directly linked to the economy, this is clearly a call to leaders to direct their energies on improving livelihoods.


The high approval ratings the Government and its leaders are getting are indicative of an unexpired mandate for change. Few world leaders enjoy such approval: Germany’s Angela Merkel, Britain’s Gordon Brown, Tony Blair before him, the US’s George Bush and others have all had approval figures linger in the teens, 20s or 30s for much of their terms.

Leaders should not squander this mandate or dither while it ebbs, but use it to push through necessary, if unpopular, reforms.