One wise man once said; everyone wants progress, but nobody wants change. The 2021 elections are around the corner, and politicians are all over the place trying to mobilise voters so as to retain or attain different respective political offices.
We have already started seeing many of them carrying sacks of money and bribing voters in an attempt to influence the outcome of the forthcoming elections. It has become a new normal, and it seems the constitution has been suspended because bribery is done in broad daylight even in the presence of police who are supposed to uphold the law.
It's the way it is because as citizens of this country, we seem to enjoy and love being bribed. On many counts, I have seen and heard people say “I will only vote the one who gives me something."
And politicians also know this, so they will give you what you want for that particular moment in exchange for your vote. One thing voters forget is that there’s power in their vote. How do you come out to demand services when you traded off your power for a few shillings!
A member of parliament who is supposed to earn about Shs 1 billion over a 5-year term, is spending close to that same amount or even more simply to win an election. And when they increase their salaries, you start making noise and calling them all sorts of names.
Dear voter, while receiving that bribe, do you ever ask yourselves how that money you are receiving is going to be recovered? How do you expect someone who spends all that kind of money not to steal if he/she gets an opportunity to do so?
Where do you get the moral authority, therefore, to point fingers at the “corrupt” when you are part of the scheme? If they are corrupt, you are corrupt too. The best way to effect change is (first embrace it) allowing it to happen to you and then you can lead others to the same.
The reason we get the kind of leaders we have is because we are not motivated by the ideas that one has but rather how deep one’s pockets are. When you decide to vote for someone because of his or her deep pockets, then don’t complain when hospitals don’t have drugs, don’t complain when roads are not constructed or are of poor quality, don’t complain about being overtaxed, don’t complain for lack of good leadership.
Professor Lumumba of Kenya once shared his experience the time he contested for a political office in his constituency and this is what he had to say; “I held 250 town hall meetings. I articulated solutions to our problems in my constituency. My opponent did not campaign at all. He gathered money and showed up one day to elections. He distributed money. He won. Africans are not moved by ideas. Their stomach leads them.”
One will reason and say it is because of the abject poverty that forces people to accept to be bribed. Let’s reason together; If I give you Shs 50,000, what impact is it going to have on your life? How many of your problems will it solve? Will it pay for your medical bills for the next 5 years? Because when you go to the hospital, you won’t find drugs. Meaning you will be asked to go and buy from the private clinics owned by the same doctors. Is Shs 50,000 worth risking the future of your children as a result of poor education systems in place?
As for those politicians who say; 'If they give you the money, eat it because it’s your money but then vote otherwise', you are not solving the problem, you are instead promoting it. Because when you take that office by God’s grace, you will have to deal with the same corrupt population that is used to being bribed. And it is out of the same population that you will have to appoint the people you are to work with, it is out of the same population other politicians at different levels will be elected from.
If we want effective leaders, restoration of sanity in our politics, effective service delivery, get leaders we have power over, we have to be willing to own the process of change and growth. And that process is painful but you wouldn’t want getting stuck in a place of no growth.
The author is a concerned citizen