Opinion

Politicians must not hijack Gen Z agenda

Thursday, July 11th, 2024 06:00 | By
President William Ruto, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, opposition leader Raila Odinga and other government officials outside KICC after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) (Amendment) Bill, 2024 assented into law on Tuesday, July 9, 2024. PHOTO/@RailaOdinga/X
President William Ruto, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, opposition leader Raila Odinga and other government officials outside KICC after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) (Amendment) Bill, 2024 assented into law on Tuesday, July 9, 2024. PHOTO/@RailaOdinga/X

President William Ruto’s announcement of a six-day multi-sectoral dialogue to discuss demands made by agitated young people was met with scepticism by right-thinking Kenyans.

Given the record of the ruling elite that has dominated national conversations for decades, it was largely seen as a deceptive scheme by entitled politicians who have consistently derided the leadership abilities of other Kenyans.

It is frightening that Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga and the aging male cabal around them still nurse the patriarchal attitude that they can continue to lord over their fellow citizens using megaphones outside government installations.

We hate to remind them theirs is the very mindset that the young people who have poured to streets seeking to be heard are fighting against. 

And the fact that the announcement was made at a forum where the besieged Ruto also gave a hint about the possible formation of a so-called broad-based political arrangement appeared to worsen things, with the youth perceiving a clandestine move to rescue the ruling political class — from a people they disdain.

The youth have exhibited an unprecedented boldness that they can go to any length to achieve their goals, including storming Parliament to kick out selfish MPs who had blindly passed the Finance Bill 2024 against the wishes of the public.

Under siege, Ruto withdrew the punitive bill and vowed to cut excesses in government, engage the youth on X Spaces and shuffle his government to address corruption and incompetence. But his call for a dialogue and hint at a coalition government appear to have earned him more wrath and disbelief than hope.

After signing the IEBC (Amendment) Bill 2024 at the KICC, watched by Raila and other political leaders, Ruto said an all-inclusive dialogue is the only way out of the current crisis. The newfound unity has touched off fury among the youth online who described an image of the leaders after the ceremony as “Kenya’s problems in one photo” and asked Raila to stay away.

Ruto is yet to come clear on the criteria to be used to identify individuals who would be involved in the dialogue. Kenyans should therefore tread carefully over the President’s call for a dialogue lest the good efforts initiated by Gen Z end up being hijacked by the political class for their selfish gains.

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