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Bishop Anthony Muheria counsel to voters

Bishop Anthony Muheria counsel to voters

Beloved Christians and all Kenyans,

We, the Catholic Bishops, as your shepherds, continue to walk with you this Sunday as we promised, to give you another brief reflection to guide us as we approach the forthcoming General Election.

In this week’s statement of the Bishops’ Voice, we propose to address one fundamental question to all of us participating in the August 9th poll. The question is:

What qualities are we looking for in the candidates who have presented themselves to us for election? In other words, what makes a good leader?

For us, Catholic Bishops, it is clear that Jesus Christ is our role model for indeed he is a Servant Leader. A leader who washed the feet of his disciples, who said “The Son of man did not come to be served but to serve…”. (Luke 22:24-27)

Looking at the example of Jesus Christ, we draw the attention of all of us that a leader performs three basic roles: embodies the vision of the people he leads; works with and involves people in decision-making; inspires people to act freely and voluntarily. A leader must therefore be humble in exercising his office. We have very clear and excellent examples of people of this kind.  Some of these are African leaders who had a vision, who involved their people in achieving that vision, and greatly inspired the people they led.

Nelson Mandela, for example, is an icon of reconciliation.

Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, was an example of humility.  Notwithstanding the challenges these two leaders faced, they provide us examples of what it takes for one to be a leader.

Fellow Kenyans, we are not looking forward to electing saints or angels.  However, we are aware that  many times we have elected leaders whose performance in leadership continuously  remain haunting us and who bring their evil into leadership. Some loot taxpayer money with impunity, some disregard the rule of law, some instigated deadly fights in communities including tribal post-election violence, while others become bad examples to our children and the youth of our nation. 

We have often witnessed even physical fights among leaders or unrepeatable insults hurled at opponents.

Our call this Sunday is a caution to avoid careless voting and focus on finding a servant leader in each of the six seats we vote for.

Our Nation Kenya will become the character of the leaders you give her.

In the interest of responding to this call, we wish to focus on the following:

1. Casual or Careless Voting 

As we interrogate the worthiness of those seeking for our votes, let us recall we have a civic duty before us to execute in coming out to vote. We will be choosing leaders who will determine, for the next five years, the destiny of our Wards, our Constituencies, our Counties and our Country. We are at the doorsteps of bestowing power to leaders who make decisions about our individual and collective wellbeing. We therefore cannot afford to be casual in the way we elect leaders.  For us Christians, voting is a moral obligation to choose leaders who stand for the good of all citizens. That is why we must interrogate their character, their morality, their value-system, and what they stand for in key moral issues.

2. Servant Leadership

We, the Catholic Bishops, propose the following considerations in electing a servant leader:

First, a visionary leader

A leader is elected to steer a vision. Manifestos ought to give a glimpse of what a leader is aspiring to do. We however are aware that the manifestos seem to be an afterthought in many candidates.  Nevertheless, we should take this time to ensure that we carefully read the manifestos presented to us, and where possible raise concerns with the candidates responsible. One way to do this is to engage the leaders in discussions forums including media discussions, where these leaders offer their vision. We should seize this moment to internalize the vision of our Country and vote for the person we consider most suitable to drive it forward. Where the ideal candidate is lacking, we must also interrogate the candidate whose leadership will least expose our Nation to the negative consequences.

Second, a reconciler

You may ask, what is the vision of this country? Our National Anthem outlines clearly, the vision of our Country.

Let all with one accord

In common bond united,

Build this our nation together,

And the glory of Kenya,

The fruit of our labor

Fill every heart with thanksgiving

The national anthem concludes with this powerful message that “kila siku tuwe nashukrani.” As Catholic Bishops, we stand for the reconciliation of our people by promoting peace and unity. We will never tire to decry politicians who instigate our people especially during elections. We need to elect leaders who understand our desire to labor together in building this nation. A candidate who demonstrates a spirit of reconciliation is good for this country. And, not only reconciliation amongst people but also reconciliation with Mother Earth through an environmental friendly agenda. We need a leader who reconciles us with creation.

 

Third, a fighter against corruption

Dear Kenyans, you will remember that as the Catholic Church, initiated a campaign against corruption. This campaign still continues. We continue to condemn this vice in our midst in the strongest terms. The Bishops, in a prophetic gesture, removed their shoes to walk barefoot. We called upon all Christians and all Kenyans personally to join us in fighting against corruption. As we elect new leaders at all levels, we must seek a leader who commits to fight corruption and offers concrete actions on how to do so.  We urge you to refuse to elect any leader who we perceive will propagate the cancer of corruption. An electable leader should detest corruption at all levels to serve as an example to others.

Fourth, and most important, a Truly Moral Leader

It is important that we interrogate all candidates on their stand on Ethical and Moral issues. We can look at their earlier statements and ask them to express what is their moral stand.

Unfortunately we continue to hear leaders proposing in their agenda the propagation of immoral and unethical policies. For a Nation to thrive, it must be founded on sound Ethical principles. Leaders should seek to articulate these in our laws,  the respect of God in his laws as underpinned in our Constitution, the respect for life, and development that nurtures in the society what is generally referred as goodness or common good.

For this reason we specifically caution you and ask that you stand up against those bad leaders who propose to destroy life in its initial stages in the mothers womb through abortion, those who have an agenda of liberalization of sexual behaviour including pornography, and those proposing the destruction of our youth through liberalization of drug use. Any leader clearly supporting such an agenda should not be elected.

Furthermore, a leader who supports an immoral agenda will have no conscience. This spells doom for a society.  When we say God fearing leader, we mean one who repects Gods laws in real life. We must elect a leader who will not only protect but promote our Traditional African and Christian family values.

Conclusion

In conclusion, as your shepherds, we ask you to look for  qualities of moral servant leaders. That is, leaders who are visionary, reconcilers, and of high integrity to steer our Wards, Constituencies, Counties and Country forward. Let us elect a truly Godly leader who inspires hope and unity among Kenyans. May Christ our Servant Leader shine upon us  to discern the kind of leader who will address the challenges Kenyans face particularly the poor and disadvantaged.

Let us walk together towards God and towards peace

God bless you all and God bless Kenya.

 


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