Sunday, March 18, 2007

Why there will never be Democracy in Kenya

Last Thursday on KTN's Public Opinion programme, they asked whether Kenyan political parties practiced democracy, whether internal or otherwise. The received opinion was that, yes, Kenyan political parties practiced some form of democracy and that they had structures in place to address this crucial element of participatory governance. I beg to differ with the professors of academia and politics and point out that the last democratic political party in Kenya was, ironically, the one that formed the least democratic government in the history of my young nation: KANU.

It is the only party which had actual citizens as members. Can anyone, who is not a politician or an aspiring politician, claim to be a member of any political party in Kenya today? Where are the party membership cards? Where are the grassroots party offices? Where are the structures that assure a party member shall climb to the top of that particular greasy pole? Sadly, these structers are missing from all political parties in Kenya today. These are bodies that are owned and opearted by the politicians that populate them.

During the referendum on the draft constitution, Kenyans were exhorted by members of the Orange Democratic Movement to reject the draft. At that moment, the ODM was a pessure group and as such it worked very well. It is in their haste to convert it into a political party that the politicians erred significantly. Pressure groups by their very nature are short-lived. Parties on the other hand are meant to last very long periods, held together by philosophies or principles or more importantly, ideologies. Todays political parties in Kenya have neither. They only have the politicians' interests at heart. To suggest that the citizenry can contribute to the party is anathema to these politicians. I suspect this is the reason why when they are elected to Parliament, they forget about the people who elected them. If they never had dealings with them before (at party-level), how will they listen to them when they are elected?

These are the reforms that politician will not address. And this lack of dialogue will inform on all aspects of governance. The fight against graft will not be won. Reforms in public service will not work. They economic growth will not benefit the poor. Our nation will continue to languish at the bottom of all comparative lists on governance and development. Consequently, real democracy will never be experienced in Kenya.

Friday, March 09, 2007

THE GLOBAL WAR AGAINST GRAFT

Recently the UK government was fighting a rear guard action with regards to certain contracts with certain Middle East nations for sales of defence equipment. Teflon Tony has gone on record that Africa needs to do more to fight corruption in all its forms, including not interfering in investigations into allegations of corruption. But when it came right down to it, Mr Blair was willing to sacrifice his high moral ground for profits camouflaged as 'national security interests'. In the West, national security is the catch-all phrase that justifies all manner of perfidy. Us poor folk in the 3rd World don't have the same privileges, and whenever we raise our voice regarding such double-standards, high-sounding statements are issued which indicate that for the most part we are either ignornt of the situation or just plain crazy!

But what really pisses me off is the fact that they will go to all lengths to sell out-dated, sub-standard equipment to 3rd World Countries for twice what they are worth and claiming that it is in the 'national interest'. They steal from us; they use corrupt means to conceal their theft; when they are caught they use a phrase that is an insult to the starving masses they profess to care for. We should all admit that a war on graft is against human nature and agree to disagree on what constitutes corruption within our own sovereign boundaries.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Will the real axis of evil please stand up!!!

Now that Dubya has agreed to sit down with the Axis of Evil over Iraq, what happens to all that huffing and puffing in his gfirst inauguration speech? We know that Iran is still keen to get their bomb; a sit down over Iraq will not change this fact. Syria is still dreaming of the day when it will be a respected member of the Commity of Nations; however, their rigid, unchanging autocratic and terrorist-supporting government will not be wished away with a sit-down with the Great Satan.

However, if certain realpolitik decisions are made now, perhaps all can have their cake and eat it too. The key here is money and oil-Iraq has the oil, everybody else hopes it will make them happy. Bush and his cronies will need to negotiatea settlement with all the former members of the Axis of Evil: Iran, Syria, Libya and North Korea. Iran and Syria have the power to end the insurgency. Libya and North Korea have already joined the road to redemption, but NK need energy to sustain that journey. That can only come from Iraq. So, a pacified Iraq has a ripple effect on another of the US' diplomatic moves.

The only dark cloud over this rosy future is Israel. Fighing on the Syrian, Iranian and Palestinian fronts is not easy; doing it without Ameriac's undivided attention is down right dangerous. They have to decide how far they will be willing to accomodate a Hezbollah-led Palestinian Authority. If they can live in an un-easy peace with each other, the US may be convinced to move their attention to more imprtant matters such as the search (once again) for secure energy supplies. A safe Iraq is the key to the unravelling of the unravelling in the Middle East.

We need to learn, again, how to think

I don't think the parliamentarians of the National Assembly will heed the call and #RejectFinanceBill2024. They will tinker. They will v...