Kenyan Economy National

Why the “hustler” narrative is not going to die soon

A fruit vendor along a Kenyan street. Image/courtesy

The idea of the hustler Nation, hustler Vs dynasty, was built and clothed by political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi. And as much as today he tries to question the very foundation of the wave he opined would form the topic of conversation for 2022 elections, his arguments when he talked about how the hustler movement would shape the 2011 elections long before the 2017 elections were spot on: and I salute his genius on that.

The reality of the hustler conversation is that the entire talk has been taken over by politicians; such that instead of eliciting the need for the much needed conversation on inclusivity of every Kenyan in the national development agenda, the growing wave has been hijacked by politicians seeking to revive their dead careers by pretending to care about a large majority of Kenyans who for years have been ignored by the political and economic system that every five years have been fooled to install.

For this reason, I have no doubt in my mind that after the 2022 elections, the same hustlers will still be the biggest losers whether a hustler of a purported dynasty becomes the president. This is unless for once, which is unlikely, Kenyans analyze the political conversations as well as the political history of every politician and ensure that they vote right; from MCA all the way to the president.

But unfortunately, this won’t happen, instead, Kenyans will vote with emotions and put all the wrong people in place, and with that, 2022 will turn out to be another big mistakes for Kenyans on the ballot.

The reality of the hustler conversation is that for long, a majority of Kenyans feel that they have been left out of the national conversation: they feel ignored by consecutive governments that have come and gone, and with that, the situation we are in was bound to happen at some point in our country’s history.

I have no doubt that President Kenyatta has performed fairly well, if anything, years after his presidency, we will look back and appreciate his work. But unfortunately, all his good deeds have been buried by the systemic mistakes of the people who advise him, and the decisions that his government has taken which in one way or another have condemned more Kenyans deeper into poverty.

The sad reality of this is that, the King of the hustler movement, his deputy Dr. William Ruto has wholly been part of these decisions, and his silence even when a majority of Kenyans have looked up for a supporting voice in Government tells more about his allegiance. But the fact that I don’t know how the government operates makes me excuse him from any wrongful assertions that may be not of his making.

When Kenyans were going through tough economic times, the Kenyatta government added a 10% tax on oil and gas: when a majority of Kenyans had already lost their jobs due to covid-19 pandemic, the government did nothing to protect the unemployed.

The governments decision to scrap taxation for those earning below KSh. 24000 was simply blind because most of these Kenyans had already lost their jobs. Even worse, a majority of Kenyans are employed in the informal sector, the government did little or nothing to cushion this group of hardworking Kenyans from the effects of Covid-19.

What exposed the Kenyatta government more was the role of police in controlling the spread of Covid-19. I know our police play an important role in this country, but the Corona virus pandemic exposed Kenyans to police brutality, bribery and intimidation by the very force that is supposed to protect them. It is no doubt that the government has known that police have taken the pandemic to enrich themselves with every opportunity for any officer to enforce covid-19 laws being turned into a bribe opportunity.

Such that, instead of Kenyans feeling protected, they felt insecure. It’s no surprise to walk around the streets and see groups of Kenyans in cuffs, simply for allegedly ignoring covid 19 laws especially wearing a face mask. Worse, when these Kenyans are taken to police stations, the cells have zero adherence to covid 19 protocols and what will secure your freedom is a bribe. As all this happens, the president and his people say nothing. Because to them, they think poor people are thick, and have no capacity to respect the law unless it is forced on them.

I talk about poor people because even as the pandemic persisted, political rallies continued to be held, against all Covid-19 protocols, and in all this the government did nothing.

Corruption in government has also been a big challenge for the Kenyatta presidency. The president has severally admitted about the grand theft in his government, yet these thieves continue to hold positions in his government andnobody has been jailed for this. The KEMSA heist didn’t make it easier for his government. If anything, it proved that the government has too much money that is stolen as Kenyans struggle to make a living, and those who steal go unpunished. They bribe their way out of court and shamelessly boast about it in public.

Ineffective decisions such as 50%passengers in Matatu’s even when the sgr passenger train is full to capacity, all this as the cost of transport was adjusted upwards in order to take care of the reduced numbers. And still, the government did nothing to cushion Kenyans from all this.

All Kenyans are asking for is to have their voices heard, to have their lives become a priority for the government, to know that they have a government in place that they can count on, to know that they are protected in their own country.

But unfortunately, the president’s handlers think that Kenyans want roads and electricity more when the fear among most Kenyans is jobs and a guarantee that there is hope for tomorrow.

When the business environment is hostile to entrepreneurs, when property for more Kenyans is auctioned by banks for loans they were forced to default by the pandemic, and the government does nothing about this, the hustler movement will continue to gain more members. People who feel like they are victims of the government and its poor policies.

Uhuru should be reminded that Kenyans don’t vote for politicians based on their development records, but it’s all based on emotions and what they can identify with.

It is easy for a majority of Kenyans to identify with the hustler, and unless there is a genuine conversation about this, the hustler Vs dynasty conversation has just started.