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Leadership in Public Office

Juma Mustapha campaigned in Kavu County and was recently elected Governor. He is a graduate of the University of Nairobi where he studied social science, and then went on to work in various agro-businesses in his County. He is very familiar with local business persons, and received the nomination for the Kenya First Party, which is very popular in that area. The Kenya First Party receives a lot of support from those in local businesses, particularly agro-business. A part of Kavu County is sparsely populated, with residents having problems of access to water, and the other part has more fertile land. Should Governor Mustapha invest in water access for the sparsely populated area, or irrigation to support agro-businesses in the fertile area?


Juma Mustapha is a politician and relies on the support of various financial interests to fund his election campaigns. But he also relies on the votes of his electorate. These two things can pull in different directions.

We might start by reflecting on how people think he will respond. That will tell us something about people's expectations of those in political office. But what people will do is not the same as what we think they should do, and in discussing this scenario we need to get people to make that distinction and to reflect on the latter.

To do that we might distinguish what they should do in terms of:

a. what the rules say (which rules and how effectively they are implemented are relevant questions)

b. what we think is the morally correct thing for Mustapha to do (and what people are using to ground or support the identification of that is an important question)

c. what we think that Mustapha's position and role require of him - that is - what resources are there, in thinking about the office he holds, to help us to identify how he should act

We might also encourage people to reflect on the following:

What if he is certain that he will not win re-election if he does not secure the funding from the agro-businesses? Does that change what he should do?

We might see this as a case of Mustapha having not much choice - if he has to get elected he has to solicit agro-industry support. Are there things that Mustpha might do to widen his choices and scope for decision-making?

Also, consider the situation in the following three forms:

a. irrigation for agro-industries will make it harder, but not impossible for ordinary people in Kavi Country to access water, so it will cost them more time and/or money

b. irrigation for agro-industries will make drought in the area for ordinary people much more likely - and people, especially children may end up suffering dehydration. Some may die.

c. Without investment in irrigation the county has no long-term prospect of providing income and employment to its people - with such support it is likely to flourish and become a more affluent area for all over the next twenty years. Does this affect what Mustapha's priorities should be?

Kenya 2010 Constitution: 73. (2) The guiding principles of leadership and integrity include—
(b) objectivity and impartiality in decision making, and in ensuring that decisions are not influenced by nepotism, favouritism, other improper motives or corrupt practices.