Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Of heroes and Cannibals

We all know that taxation is one of the two things one can never avoid in life, the other being death. The Americans after all fought a war with England over the matter of taxation without representation. So why is it that Kenyans are incapable of mounting a strong front against the 10th Parliament? Perhaps the reason is that we really don't care. There was an image on the TV last week during the by-election in Emuhaya where voters said they would not vote unless they were paid to do so. Have we come to the stage of 'election allowances' for voters? If so, we cannot blame the MPs for saying "no to taxation" of their allowances. After all, if he is going to defend his seat in the next general election at a cost of 10 million shillings, why should he not start saving for the fight right now? How can he save if the government is swallowing a third of his 600,000? That is why the fattest cats among the fat cats are being watched with animosity by their colleagues. The likes of Johnstone Muthama, Cyrus Jirongo, William Ruto and Raila Odinga are millionaires and billionaires in their own right and have no need for the paltry sh. 850,000-a-month they earn. However, losers like Mungatana and his brethren in the PNU have no wealth to speak of. How can the 'poverty-stricken' members of the House survive if their richer brethren keep cutting their legs from under them? Those MPs calling for sacrifice have the right idea but no backbone; else, Kenya would not have been saddled with a cabinet of 40-odd hyenas, some of whom have no business being in government. And Raila begging for money from the Americans to run his office just shows how myopic our 'leaders' are. They should all take a leaf from John Harun Mwau's play book and put their money where their mouths are - he has a vision for Ukambani that if realized, will turn the region into an intellectual and financial powerhouse. His motto, "Think and grow rich", is the only strategy that can work in an area where agri-business is in the doldrums and assorted malaises affect the spirit of the people. He should be regarded as the hero of the Akamba people, not slave-drivers like Kalonzo and his band of ODM-K misfits.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Is 12 months too optimistic for the Grand Coalition?

Surveying the political landscape today, one would be mistaken for thinking that it was November 2007. The ODM-PNU battle of the titans looks like it is still going on, never mind the promises of working together and the recent mollifying speeches of the flag-bearers. It's too bad that this is Kibaki's last term. Lame ducks have never been able to exert authority or bring their wayward charges to heel. With Kibaki's customary laissez faire approach to ruling, his most ardent lieutenants have taken the opportunity to roil the waters and mischief-make in the hope that one of them becomes the flag-bearer in the next general elections. I think that for us to expect the coalition to last beyond January 2009 is wildly optimistic. Martha Karua and George Saitoti have taken such hardline stances towards the amnesty agenda of the ODM team that I am sure this will be a big bone of contention in the next few weeks if not till the coalition falls apart, as it inevitably must.

Commentators have argued that those accused of arson and murder cannot simply be let free. I agree with them. However, it is not fair that a majority of the young men and women behind bars are overwhelmingly the supporters of the ODM. It would have not raised such a stink if the same proportion of the PNU lot were enjoying the hospitality of the state. But this is not so. Karua and Saitoti are being less than frank when they claim that the justice, law and order machinery of the state was employed fairly and without bias. It is because of this that the ODM would like to see its footsoldiers let free. I wonder if Raila's offer of negotitiation with the Mungiki was targetted at softening Karua's and Saitoti's positions in the hope that he would broker an agreement that the Mungiki would not be slaughtered by the police and the ODM murderers would be let free? If this is so, Raila's strategy is falling apart.

I therefore, cannot see this government lasting beyond january 2009 and general elections may be called sooner than we hoped. This time round, matters will end much worse. The so-called Agenda No. 4 of the Medfiation Process is not being discussed let alone being implemented. If we do not get a new constitution by the end of the year and if no changes are made to the election process and law, violence is all but guaranteed during the next general election. This time round, whether the politicins like it or not, to quell it will require more than promises and lies. I don't think that the calm we have enjoyed in the last two months can be described as peace. This is the quiet before the tornado blows away your whole life. Watch and be very very afraid.

They all fall, eventually

The member of the National Assembly for Mumias East is a spectacularly unpleasant character. But he is not unique. A former member of the Na...