Nelson Havi's 2022 Challenge to Kenyans Sparks Debate [VIDEO]

  • A ballot paper displayed in a Nakuru court by a judicial official during a vote scrutiny in 2013
    A ballot paper displayed in a Nakuru court by a judicial official during a vote scrutiny in 2013
    Daily Nation
  • The role of professionals and the middle-class in delivering much-needed change in the country is a revolving debate that often pops up ahead of the general elections.

    Kenya's middle class has long been accused of a cavalier attitude towards the country's politics and governance, with their protests, if any, typically confined to social media.

    A viral speech by Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Nelson Havi on Thursday, September 11 at a Kenya Christian Professionals Forum (KCPF) fuelled debate on the role of professionals ahead of the 2022 election.

    While Havi has so far rallied several Kenyans through professional bodies to take up the challenge, many other middle-class citizens are gearing up to feature on the ballot in the 2022 elections.

    Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Nelson Havi addresses the media on Monday, June 8, 2020
    Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Nelson Havi addresses the media on Monday, June 8, 2020

    Indeed, one of the biggest criticisms leveled against the theory of middle-class inaction has been the fact that former career professionals make up much of the high echelons of the civil service.

    Several Cabinet Secretaries who left high-flying private sector careers, for instance, have been implicated in graft after joining government.

    According to Havi, however, it is only by taking up an elective office that professionals can implement the change they desire.

    He revealed details of conversations he had with the pilots and doctors' unions over the issue.

    Havi insisted that long-standing challenges that have led to cases of disgruntled workers could be resolved by professionals in power.

    He urged teachers, architects and journalists among other professionals to take up the challenge.

    Havi revealed that leaders of professional bodies were signing a declaration on the same at the LSK secretariat.

    "Wilson Sossion (Kenya National Union of Teachers Chair), you must come and sign. KNUT is facing extinction," he stated referencing publicized woes at the union.

    "There will be no change in Kenya if you, the middle class and professionals, do not leave your comfort zones and run for public office. Sheep cannot be led by wolves. It is absolutely up to you," Havi maintained.

    Lynn Ndegea, an advocate who graduated from law school in 2017, is among professionals who have tossed their hats into the ring for 2022.

    She told that she decided to run while she was still a student in campus, hoping to effect change.

    "For me it has been part of my plan since I was in my first or second year.

    "A big reason I studied law was that I believe in social justice but the more you learn, you realize that some things can only be changed from the inside. I think Havi is right," she divulged.

    She stated that she was yet to decide between going for the Nakuru East parliamentary seat or a Member of County Assembly position.

    "The biggest challenge for many aspiring politicians is resources because campaigns are expensive.

    "What is important to me is being able to effect change as much as possible, so that is another guiding factor in my decision," the 26-year old observed.

    She also observed that much of the middle class was uninterested in taking civil participation away from social media.

    "It's not just about protests. It's a bigger problem because there are all these public participation meetings that must be held by county and national governments.

    "I don't know anyone among my friends who has ever attended such meetings yet this is where they decide how our money will be spent, we only complain later," she observed.

    Peter Omondi, a property agent eyeing the Nyayo Highrise MCA seat in 2022 after a failed stab in 2017, had a different opinion.

    "I don't believe it's a middle-class problem, the challenges are real for Kenyans across all classes.

    "Most Kenyans whether middle class or not just want to provide food for their families and it is very difficult in this country. Civic participation becomes a burden when all we know is corruption and unemployment," he argued.

    Omondi stated that he hoped to run on a financial empowerment platform in line with his thinking.

    He says he was partly driven to run by the challenges he observes in his line of work.

    "You interact with people looking for houses in different areas, so you get to know the problems in different places and the people as well.

    "For example in Highrise, the biggest challenges are lack of water and deteriorating roads, in another place it could be security," he observed.

    As the debate rages, Kenyans hold on to hope that the polls will offer a new crop of leaders capable of dealing with long-standing challenges.

    Watch Havi's speech below: