Monday, December 24, 2012

Political Christmas Theatre.

It has been an exciting two weeks. The manner in which Musalia Mudavadi's career has roller-coastered should be a lesson to those who would dream of trusting the generation change of the TNA/URP Jubilee Coalition. The toing-and-froing of Mama Rainbow has redefined political expediency and short-sightedness. Mrs Ngilu declared in a rather tame event that she was in the race for the presidency and that like all others she was going it alone. Now she has not only abandoned her fellow-travellers in the CORD, she has thrown in her lot with the Uhuru/Ruto ticket, giving up her chance at the brass ring of Kenyan politics and choosing,instead, to settle for the rather dubious position of Majority Leader in the Senate. The catch, of course, is she has to win the Kitui Senate seat either as the main candidate or as the Women Representative. It would be a humiliating comedown for her if she were to lose the election and have to be nominated by the young men of the Jubilee coalition.

Despite Eugene Wamalwa's bombast, his party, his coalition and his connections have proven to be so much dust in the wind. His dreams, if they were realistic that is, have crumbled. Mr Wamalwa will not be Kenya's fourth president bar some catastrophe that eliminates everyone, including James Ole Kiyiapi. Mr Wamalwa's campaign to put his name of the ballot has been marked by short-lived relationships: Simama Kenya, Maina Njenga, G7 and in due time, Cyrus Jirongo. Peter Kenneth and Raphael Tuju have had a good run, but the ex-Starehe Boys' boys have glaring weaknesses. Neither has a following beyond the die-hards every campaign attracts. Mr Tuju, particularly, will be remembered as a high-handed failure at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, especially when he and Moses Wetangula attempted to cut a 'juniour senator' from America down to size. That man now sits in the Oval Office of the White House, the most powerful office in the whole world. Luo Nyanza, especially, will not be forgiving Mr Tuju any time soon for that slight to their most illustrious son. Or, for that matter, for his daring to throw his hat in the ring with Agwambo aka Tinga aka Hammer aka Nyundo when he has no chance of winning; in other words, he is there to spoil for their other favourite son, an argument that has been made against Peter Kenneth's and Martha Karua's presidential ambitions. They stand accused of being the main stumbling blocks to Uhuru Kenyatta's smooth ascent to State House. Especially as both present apparent less polarising identities, though less so for Mrs Karua.

What we are not examining, though, are the down ticket races: Senator, Women Rep, Governor, MP, and County Rep. We still have no idea whom the leading contenders will nominate to the Cabinet or whom they'll wish to appoint as Principal Secretaries. It is not enough that they have outlined, however vaguely, their plans, they still need to tell us whom they trust to see their visions through to the end. Despite Mwai Kibaki's apparent hands-off leadership style, his government has enjoyed the services of some of the ablest public servants the country has to offer. We can only pray that a few of them will stay behind in the transitional period to assist the incoming Executive get its sea legs before it begins to make whole-scale changes in the structure of the government. It is telling that many of CORD's politicians have vast experience, some of it - but not all - of dubious character, in how the Executive and Parliament function. The same cannot be said for Jubilee, which seems to have been packed by some of the greatest swindlers of the Moi and Kibaki Eras. If it is a question of change, then we need to know who the spanner boys will be. If I even see Aden Duale's fingerprints on any national programme, then I will know that Kenya is doomed.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

If he can't defeat dark forces...

An interesting feature of the Musalia/Uhuru fallout has been overlooked in my estimation: the fact that Uhuru Kenyatta seems to be held hostage by hostile forces. The popular narrative is that Uhuru Kenyatta has managed to subvert the intentions of these hostile forces, but he doesn't seem to have been strong enough in the first instance to keep them at bay. When he went on national TV and spoke of dark forces coercing him into agreeing to stand down in favour of Musalia Mudavadi, Mr Kenyatta demonstrated that he will not be the president Kenyans would want or need. Kenya is in no hurry to elect a president who will fold every time someone stronger comes along and compels him to do something that would be against the national interest. His arguments that his "people" rejected the deal that he had struck with Musalia Mudavadi speaks volumes of the kind of leadership he practices. He does not lead; he follows tamely like a sheep to the slaughter. He may talk a good game, but Uhuru Kenyatta is not his own man, all evidence to the contrary.

We may never know what went on in Uhuru Kenyatta's camp, but one thing is becoming clear by the day. Decisions are made by others and he either follows them or he is compelled to follow them. Even when there are competing interests at play, Mr Kenyatta seems to fall into the follow-the-leader role rather too quickly. Even Rachel Shebesh, when she appeared on TV to forcefully reject the Musalia Mudavadi deal, alluded to this reality when she declared that it was not up to Mr Kenyatta whether he was the TNA standard-bearer. The presidency, as all have been reminding Musalia Mudavadi, is not something that is gifted to someone; it must be taken. What Ms Shebesh demonstrated is that regardless of what Mr Kenyatta said or did in his interactions with Mr Mudavadi, he did not have a say in whether he would stand for the presidency, that the decision had already been taken by "the party" and that he would fall in line whether he wanted to or not.

This has been Mr Kenyatta's story since he was Daniel Toroitich arap Moi's Project in 2002. Until Mr Moi appointed him one of four vice-chairmen of KANU and announced that he would lead the party at the 2002 general election, Mr Kenyatta had not expressed the desire to stand for the presidency. In 2007 he demurred, refusing to lead his party against Mwai Kibaki and PNU and instead, aligning his party with that of the incumbent. Even then there were insinuations that he had been prevailed upon by unnamed persons not to rock the boat and instead support one from the House of Mumbi against Raila Odinga and the ODM juggernaut.

Mr Kenyatta has offered the image of a strong and determined political leader in the last six months but that image may be a false one. If he is incapable of articulating forcefully what his vision for the nation is and if he is incapable of persuading these "dark forces" that he is best placed to realise that vision, he has not business offering himself for the highest seat in the land. He is better off allowing the wily William Ruto or the much-maligned Musalia Mudavadi to take on the onerous task of campaigning against Raila Odinga in 2013. Mr Kenyatta seems incapable of commanding the respect of even his troops. There is no reason that he will mould the government in his image. It seems to me that if he somehow manages to best Raila Odinga at the hustings, the government will overwhelm him and it will instead run rings around him. Mr Kenyatta does not have the strength or ambition required to lead a nation. It is time someone told him so.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Joker in the Pack.

Musalia Mudavadi's vacillation reflects what he did in 2002: unable to find a soft-landing in the then LDP, he went back to KANU, joined Uhuru Kenyatta on the ballot, and not only lost the election, but lost his seat in the bargain. History repeats itself, first as farce and then as tragedy. This is the farcical portion of Musalia Mudavadi's history repeating itself. It had become apparent very early on in his Deputy Prime Ministerial career that as Deputy Leader of the ODM, he was always going to play second fiddle to Raila Odinga. When the party was preparing for the presidential nominations, he quit the party in a huff because of the likelihood of a boardroom deal in choosing the standard-bearer of the party, and moved into the UDF which he marketed, successfully, to the TNA/URP coalition.

Now, when Musalia Mudavadi was rejecting the boardroom deal idea in ODM, he was the Minister for Local Government, and he had used his office to mobilise, for his presidential bid, thousands of local authority officials and workers to throw their weight behind him when he challenged Raila Odinga for the presidential ticket. It seems he had not considered in full the implications of resigning as Minister, while retaining the DPM's post. The DPM position is the more prestigious but it is the Minister for local Government's that is the more powerful, and had Musalia Mudavadi though a bit more carefully, he'd have left Raila Odinga's shadow as Deputy Party Leader and DPM, but kept his foot firmly on 2013 by retaining the Local Government portfolio. Mwai Kibaki, I think, would have backed him up as a sop to Uhuru Kenyatta, Mudavadi's co-DPM.

Mr Mudavadi abandoned the delegates route after he quit ODM precisely because he would have very little time to not only set up a new party but ensure that in any future negotiations with "like-minded" political actors, it would be strong enough to dictate terms. His only hope was the abortive deal between him and Uhuru Kenyatta, that Uhuru Kenyatta worked stealthily and craftily to discredit as soon as it was signed. No one thinks that Mr Kenyatta was about to abandon his presidential ambitions; he has invested too heavily for some Johnnie-come-lately to swan in and scoop the prize. What is shocking is that Musalia Mudavadi believed that the presidential ticket would be handed to him for no effort at all. It has never occurred to him that his Sabatia seat was handed to him by President Moi upon his father's death. This thought should have been at the front of his mind when, by the OD wave, he resumed the seat in 2007. The DPM's and Deputy Party Leader's positions were bequeathed upon him by Raila Odinga. UDF, it is alleged, was handed to him by Joe Wanjui. Bu this record, Mr Mudavadi is yet to build anything for himself. He came close as Local Government Minister and the constituency of local authority bigwigs he was assembling. No more.

Mr Kenyatta has proved wilier and cannier than many give him credit for. His strategy has been to Keep Raila Odinga on the back-foot all the way to the general election. To a great extent, he has succeeded. First he took advantage of the disquiet and grumbling in ODM. He reaped where Raila Odinga had sown; he has inherited a large chunk of Mr Odinga's Rift Valley Parliamentary cohort, as he has bits and pieces from Western, South Nyanza, Coast, North Eastern and Eastern. He managed to persuade Mr Mudavadi of his honourable intentions, relying, no doubt, on their shared humiliation after the 2002 general election. He managed to retain his links to Mr Ruto at a very close and personal level; after all, it is not just in jest the two are referred to as the Coalition of Suspects. With the imminent departure from Jubilee by UDF, Mr Kenyatta has managed to destroy the Musalia brand in ODM and, thus, ensure that Mr Mudavadi's return to the ODM fold will be tarnished. He has also managed to lock him out of any other significant alliance; he is left to pick at scraps like Martha Karua's NARC-K or James ole Kiyiapi's RBK. Mr Mudavadi is now a political joke.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I am mad as hell, and I can't take it any more!


Do not presume that this disquisition is going to be fair or balanced; it is going to be divisive and deeply partisan and I am not sorry to be so. Let us begin with the sainted Raila Odinga of the Second Liberation and his acolytes in the Orange Democratic Movement who include but are not limited to Prof Anyang' Nyong'o, James Orengo and the lunatic fringe that hails from certain parts of Luo Nyanza. To say that he has been a disappointment is do do immeasurable disservice to disappointing men and women. His relentless campaign to step into the presidency should have disqualified him for high office ever since he lost the leadership battle in Ford-Kenya. His calculating and self-interested decision to "merge" the National Development Party with KANU in the dying days of Moi's hegemony took everyone, including Moi, by surprise and it is no surprise that Moi still went ahead and chose his own successor, the neophyte Uhuru Kenyatta.

Mr Odinga's stints in the governments of Daniel Toroitich arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki, and in his stint as Prime Minister, have been accompanied by controversy and incompetence that it beggars belief that he is still the peoples' favourite, three months to the general election. His party's decision to whinge and whine while serving in government, and to participate in the truffle-snout thieving of national treasure in the National Assembly, meant that millions of Kenyans who could have been unable to find employment, whether in the formal or informal sectors, public or private. It also means that policies adopted by the Cabinet have been decided not with the peoples' interests in mind, but with the insidiousness of political self-interest and calculation for the survival of the ministerial incumbent and the allocation of public resources to buttress political fiefdoms of little consequence in the grand scheme of things. Mr Odinga's leadership of his party has been at times shambolic and dictatorial in equal measure. Every black mark identified with the KANU school of political leadership has been carried over to the ODM by the last serious Secretary-General of KANU. Mr Odinga has disappointed his millions of loyalists as Prime Minister and as leader of the Orange Democratic Movement. His party is increasingly seen as the party of the Luo cabal that sings his praises at every opportunity. ODM is today a fringe movement kept alive by the near-fanatical following of the Prime Minister in certain, though not all, quarters.

Mr Odinga's nearest serious challenger, the darling of Central Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta is not the counterfoil to the Prime Minister that his ardent supporters think he is. There is not a soul, other than a sour-grapes type, that will deny that as Finance Minister, Mr Kenyatta was indefatigable and unlikely to be swayed by material desires in his decision-making. Those that tried less than honest discourse with one of our most youthful heads, bar only Musalia Mudavadi, Mr Kenyatta's co-Deputy Prime Minister, of  The Treasury was quickly disabused of his ideas and sent packing. He is rightly lauded for maturing rather quickly in the past three years to a sober-minded, pragmatic politician. The sins of his political past cannot be wished away so easily though. In 2002, when President Moi hand-picked him over his rivals Kalonzo Musyoka and Raila Odinga to be KANU's presidential nominee at that year's general election, he should have said "No!" That he did not is an indictment of his strength of character. Despite his gracious concession speech, Mr Kenyatta had been infected by hubris and he has spent the last decade attempting to live up to the hype that the Kenyatta name perennially conjurers.

His political philosophy remains unknown. His claims to be a man-of-the-people, sympathising with the plight of the poor and the vulnerable in Kenya is mere political piffle. How can a man sitting at the head of a business empire and who has never spent a night in the filth that we call daily life ever empathise with what the so-called common mwananchi's daily grind? To even imagine that Mr Kenyatta understands the life of the ordinary Kenyan is to suppose that the sky is green and that unicorns are real. Why he enjoys mythical status among the elite of the House of Mumbi can be reasonably explained by the promises he will keep as opposed to those he will make while on the presidential campaign trail. Unless Mr Kenyatta tells us who will pursue a social policy for the radical redistribution of Kenya's capital, all his talk of solving our economic and socio-political problems merely by electing him to succeed Mwai Kibaki continues to be a vast waste of oxygen. And his, and William Ruto's, innocence notwithstanding, Mr Kenyatta must persuade us that he is innocent; not in a court of law but by dissociating himself once and for all from the men and women who stood to profit from the deaths of thousands, the expropriation of billions of shillings of private property, and the untold suffering of hundreds of thousands after the general election of 2007. It is not enough to claim innocence; Mr Kenyatta must prove it once and for all.

William Ruto's is our cautionary tale. An intelligent political operative, Mr Ruto has not had a meteoric rise as is supposed by his fevered acolytes. He has had to work for everything he has accomplished politically since he decided to join the Youth for KANU bandwagon in time for the 1992 general election. Mr Ruto is intelligent and ambitious in equal measure and were it not for the small matter of the ICC, he would be the serious challenger to Mr Odinga's presidential ambitions. Mr Ruto, though, is deeply flawed. One flaw that was revealed starkly regards the property he decided to purchase in 2008. Despite the fact that a man had gone to court to challenge the ownership of the property, Mr Ruto did not think that there were any doubts over the transaction despite the record of displacement and unlawful expropriations that had taken place in that dark year. Why he persisted in defending his claim long after it became clear that the doubts around the land would not go away should trouble the consciences of those determined to avoid the spectre of mass deportations after the 2013 general election. His callous disregard for the facts on the ground should be a warning for those determined to see his claims of innocence as a shield; he may not be in a position to empathise with victims of gross unfairness when he sits in his office at Harambee House.

It is Kalonzo Musyoka though, who makes this campaign season so sapping on the spirit. His waffling and toing-and-froing have been maddening. His continued pursuit of an arrangement with Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto when all pointed tot heir disdain for him should awaken in us a sobering thought: he is without an ounce of depth or strategic thinking. Now that he has decided to re-unite with the Prime Minister, and revive the moribund spirit of the Orange Revolution, he must surely hope that Kenyans are so short-sighted that they will not go over his record in the past five years. Whether his new found bonhomie with the Prime Minister will yield a deal that Kenyans can live with depends on whether he will attempt a back-room deal or whether the two will go for an open contest. Those who have examined his record fear that the former is true while those determined to see him for the saint they claim he is think the latter possible. In three days' time, we will know.

Not even the "principled" campaigns of Martha Karua, Peter Kenneth or James ole Kiyiapi have raised the spirits. Small and insignificant as their parties are, and incapable of rousing rhetoric as they are, it is impossible to see their campaigns elevating the level of political discourse displayed so far. Martha Karua comes across as a harridan out to ruin everyone's party. Peter Kenneth comes across as the Holy Joe in high school who told on everyone elsewhile secretly engaging in questionable tactics to win Teacher's favour. James ole Kiyiapi simply comes across as a man who stumbled into a presidential campaign and prays that no one will notice that he is all alone in the field, without even a semblance of a team to keep him in the game. 2013 may be momentous in the minds of a few, but to my mind it will be more of the same and with the same level of political disappointment the last decade has engendered.

It's not stigma; it's just politics.

Of course Eric Ng'eno is right: Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are yet to be convicted by the ICC for the crimes they have been accused of (Stop stigma against ICC suspects, Sunday Nation, Sunday, December 16, 2012). But Mr Ng'eno ignores an iron law of politics: victory is not given to the one with the most persuasive argument, victory is taken by the one who persuades the largest number of voters to elect him. It is that simple. The ICC narrative is going to form part of the campaign. Indeed, since Luis Moreno-Ocampo named his six suspects, it is all that politicians from across the divide have focussed on. Messrs Kenyatta and Ruto may be innocent, but by having their names linked to Kenya's worst political, legal and humanitarian crisis in a decade, it was inevitable that their political ambitions would be shaped by how the ICC narrative unfolded.

On one ground, their supporters have it right. There is nothing in law that stops the two from pursuing their political ambitions. If they wish to put themselves forward for elective positions in 2013, the law is on their side. It has always been on their side and for this reason I suspect, the Vice-President and Prime Minister will not call for the two to postpone their presidential ambitions until the ICC matter is resolved. The arguments advanced by their opponents are opportunistic, and this too was to be expected. When the Committee of Experts inserted Chapter Six on leadership and integrity onto the Constitution, the die was cast and it was going to be used by political actors as a weapon to either protect their interests or to keep some from the ballot.

The legal arguments are only of interests to the two main suspects. The rest of the country sees only the political angle, and this is how a free democracy operates. Love them or not, the two suspects must now fight their battles on two fronts: they must seek to prove their innocence at The Hague and they must ensure that their alliance forms the next government, that is, Jubilee must not only form the majority in Parliament, it must also take the Executive. Whether they will depends on how they shape the debate around their indictments at The Hague. If they keep harping on the unfairness of it all, that they are not the only ones worth the time of the International Criminals Court's judges and that the President and Prime Minister should have been indicted alongside them, they may yet lose the battle. If, instead, they demonstrate that even while co-operating with the Court that they are innocent of the charges, they may yet persuade large numbers of Kenyans to switch allegiances and back their ticket in 2013.

I do not know whether Mr Ng'eno backs the Jubilee ticket or not, but if he wishes to advance it cause, he is best advised to not just concentrate on the finer points of the law or the interpretation of the Constitution, but also advance persuasive arguments that the two men are not just innocent, but the nation would be the poorer without the benefit of their presence either in the Executive or in Parliament. He may begin by retracing their errors regarding the investigations into their crimes. In the run u to their indictments, the two ran with the hares and hunted with the hounds. On the one hand they supported a local tribunal; on the other they allowed their mouthpieces and acolytes to argue that the ICC was the best option. Don't be vague; go to The Hague will forever be remembered as their clarion call for action on the post-election violence. Their miscalculation is not yet fatal; it will be so if the CORD alliance takes both the Executive and Parliament.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Is Mrs Ngilu becoming irrelelvant?

Why did Raila Odinga believe that his sleight-of-hand introduction of Charity Ngilu into the ODM/Wiper alliance would end well? Mrs Ngilu and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka cannot stand each other, especially since Mrs Ngilu is convinced that the Vice-President is determined to remove her from active politics in Ukambani, or that Kalonzo Musyoka is convinced that without Charity Ngilu's support for the Prime Minister, Ukambani would be his sinecure for all eternity. It is now apparent that the Prime Minister and the Vice-President, at least for the time being, are going to work together to defeat the Jubilee alliance; polls already indicate a 9-point lead by the former over the latter. It is early days though; when the nominations papers are filed, we will find out how the tickets will compete against each other in the hurly-burly of Kenyan politics.

Kalonzo Musyoka is a long-time supplicant at the feet of Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, Kenya's longest serving president. Raila Odinga is the enfant terrible of the Kenyan political landscape, single-handedly destroying KANU as a political machine and denying Moi a legacy by keeping Uhuru Kenyatta, a leading Jubilee alliance stalwart, from the presidency in 2002. Charity Ngilu has pursued an independent path ever since she entered politics in 1992. With the capture of the Kitui Central seat, Mrs Ngilu has established herself as a force to reckon with. A successful businesswoman, Mrs Ngilu's foray into politics was not seen as the scene-stealer it became in 1997, especially after her terrible falling out with Mwai Kibaki during the Democratic Party's nominations for the 1997 general election. When she declared her intent to challenge Mwai Kibaki for the presidential ticket in DP, she was sabotaged even by the likes of Joseph Munyao, Kibaki's trusted lieutenant. Her decision to switch parties to the Social Democratic Party was an inspired one and though she came far behind Mwai Kibaki in the election, she established herself as a strong-willed and talented politician capable of holding her own in the face of such great male opposition. She remains the most potent female politician of her generation and she continues to demonstrate that he reach is not to be under-estimated. She set the ground for Wangari Maathai and Martha Karua to make a play for the presidency and whether the latter wishes to admit it or not, she owes Mama Rainbow a debt of gratitude.

Mrs Ngilu's recent moves have been baffling. Perhaps it is the waning of her national popularity or the fears of irrelevance all politicians undergo, but she has made strange moves in the past year. Her most egregious is to forget that politics is not personal. By making her contest with Kalonzo Musyoka personal, she has managed to create a rift with one of her strongest political partners in recent years, Raila Odinga. She forgets that even though Raila Odinga was the victim of some of the worst tactics of President Moi's government, he managed to hold his nose and merge his National Development Party with KANU in order to capture power. Even he knew that in the Kenyan context, politics is not about issues or manifestos, but about numbers and he wanted the KANU network in order to build up his profile sufficiently enough to take on KANU when the time came. He also realised that in the face of a sustained character-assassination, he could not succeed Daniel Toroitich arap Moi in 2002, hence his Kibaki Tosha declaration that effectively ended forty years of KANU hegemony. Mrs Ngilu also forgets that even in the NARC coalition, Raila Odinga was forced to work with Michael Kijana Wamalwa, who had betrayed him in 1997 during the leadership contest for the Ford-K leadership position that Raila Odinga coveted. Even after the betrayal by the Mt Kenya Mafia in the first quarter of 2003, Raila Odinga still formed a coalition with Mwai Kibaki in 2008 and continued to work in the same government with the men and women who were instrumental in sidelining him in government. His has been a difficult path, but he has trod it in typical Odinga style. By agreeing to work with Kalonzo Musyoka in 2012 to defeat Uhuru Kenyatta in 2013, Mr Odinga surely lives the adage that there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics, just permanent interests. It is a lesson that Mrs Ngilu must take to heart.

Mrs Ngilu has been in politics longer than the neophyte Kalonzo Musyoka and she has had far greater successes than the wily William Ruto. Buts she seems not to have drawn any lessons in her two decades in Kenya's Parliament. She still sees herself as the rebel that upset the Kibaki apple-cart in 1997 or the the Moi Ukambani script in 1992. By vacillating between CORD and Jubilee she has displayed uncertainty on an unprecedented scale and she has lowered her political profile to near-irrelevance. Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto do not need to capture the Ukambani vote; all they have to do is split it between their alliance and Raila Odinga's. Mrs Ngilu is the key to all this as was Kalonzo Musyoka during their halcyon G7 days. The two are not about to subordinate their ambitions to Mrs Ngilu's. If she has not realised this, then perhaps she is more over-the-hill than she realises. Her safest bet for political relevance was with a team that more or less trusted her: CORD. Her fawning supplication at Uhuru Kenyatta's feet is not only going to cost her her last chance at the presidency, but at political relevancy. With her decision to spurn CORD because of her animosity for the Vice-President is bound to be her greatest political mistake and the costs are going to be devastating for her. Mr Musyoka should have been a cautionary tale and Mr Odinga should have been a lesson in pragmatism. She has learnt nothing in her time in politics. She will pay the price for her folly.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Price of Democracy.

Democracy is neither neat nor predictable. It is frequently messy and leads to some unintended consequences. Take for example, the Two-thirds Gender Rule Opinion of the Supreme Court. If it were not for the democratic gains made in the past two decades, but especially after the 2007/2008 violence, gave many litigants a measure of confidence that their voices would be heard in the courts of law. In the past, whether one had a genuine beef with the State or not, the courts were the last institutions that would offer a sympathetic ear, if at all. This time round, even despite the slow pace of reforms in the Judiciary, gender-equality activists were confident enough to participate in the democratic process of taking their complaints regarding the interpretation of the Constitution to the only institution with the authority to do so: the judiciary. They did not get what they wanted, but they got what they needed: they were heard and a reasoned ruling was handed down that they are bound to live with, save if they get an opportunity to have it overturned by a Full Bench of the Supreme Court, something that will await the replacement of Mohamed Ibrahim and Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza.

There are those who have a utopian view of the democratic process, thinking that simply because their good intentions have been codified in law that good results are to be expected. If any, the Supreme Court should demonstrate the folly of this kind of reasoning. The United State Marine Corps' many Drill Sergeants know this truth: to make peace, prepare for war. It is a truth that Kenyans must inculcate in themselves. To implement the Constitution successfully, Kenyans must constantly prepare for setbacks and sabotage; it is the only way that they can anticipate the machinations of a perfidious political class and vested interests in the governance of Kenya.

The 2013 general election offers the best opportunity to re-write the rules of the game. To date, politics has been the preserve of the loudest louts in the market place. Those with reasoned arguments about anything have frequently been dismissed as ivory tower idealists out of touch with the common mwananchi and, frequently, peddling bankrupt ideas garnered from the bottom of the Western barrel of decadent ideas. Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, for all his emphasis on the education of the girl-child, made a fetish of the ignorance of the masses and ensured that it would remain so for the 24 years he had his hand on the tiller. Mwai Kibaki has attempted the impossible over the past decade, especially with the guarantee of free basic education for all. But even with the support of western donors, schools continue to be under-staffed, under-equipped and improvements come only in infrequent bursts.

For the 2013 elections to matter, Kenyans have to think beyond their need to vent. It is not enough to be the loudest in the political market place; one must also be in a position to influence positive change in those from whom he is asking for votes. Kenyans must be given an opportunity to reject the bullies and louts out to lock out the civilised and educated; if the likes of Ferdinand Waititu and Mike Sonko wish to be elected, they must demonstrate that in addition to their mobilisation skills, they have thought beyond tokenism in finding solutions for peoples they claim to serve. If they cannot even perform this basic task, it behooves us to ensure that they lose their election deposits. It is, after all, the price of democracy.

See the positive.

The Supreme Court has spoken and it has done what we hoped it would not do: take pragmatism to ridiculous heights. By reading the Two-thirds Gender Rule as progressive, and not mandatory, it has given Kenya's vacillating National Assembly time to finally arrive at a solution that promotes the interests of both genders in the governance of Kenya. The Opinion of the Supreme Court has not gone down well with the representatives of women organisations. Maendeleo Ya Wanawake's Rukia Subow and ex-FIDA Executive Director Grace Maingi are livid at the timidity of the Supreme Court; they would have preferred the Court to hold the Parliamentarians feet to the fire and compel them to do the right thing, even where the right thing meant a constitutional crisis in 2013.

With the Court's Opinion, Kenya is set for a period of great disappointment, especially for gender (read, women) activists. In recent years they have scored great successes, bar one or tow embarrassments. Indeed, it is slowly becoming fashionable even for women to talk about the marginalised boy-child, something that still amuses the hell out of many when one considers that it is men that make all policy in Kenya; it is men that implement all policy in Kenya; and it is men that are traditionally looked at as leaders and opinion-makers in all sorts of organisations and institutions, even where they are patently unqualified to make decisions. Many women leaders will no doubt feel cheated by the Supreme Court but one would urge caution; their frustration should not cloud their judgment, for in the opinion of the Supreme Court lies an opportunity that may not come again.

The Two-thirds Gender Rule was a mistake; it should never have formed part of the Bill of Rights. Its implementation was always going to be seen as a Western-sponsored project to undermine the foundations of Kenyan society and an attempt to re-make the nations in the image of the decadent West. In fact, if one examines some of the reasons for the great faith-based opposition to the Right to Live Provision, one sees the same kind of rhetoric being employed against the Two-thirds Gender Rule. Until the ill-fated Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, Kenya was well on its way to re-defining gender issues. If the women movement had not been co-opted for selfish political ends by Daniel Toroitch arap Moi's KANU, and if the so-called Kenyan feminists had not allowed it to happen, there would have been little need for the Rule in the Constitution.

In 2013, women may or may not be elected in sufficiently large numbers to make the Rule a reality, but surely the likes of Rukia Subow and Grace Maingi must realise that the next government cannot be effective without partnering with at least half the population. This gives them and the institutions or organisations they represent leverage. The Equality Provision in the Constitution is pretty clear; the State cannot discriminate on the basis of sex (and by extension, gender). Therefore, if in its policies it fails to take into serious consideration the needs and aspirations of one-half of the population, the recent Supreme Court victory will be its last. No one is proposing governing through the courts; but the Supreme Court has attained a mythical status in its short period of life and it should be wielded as a threat against the State every time it seems to be vacillating over important issues.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Profit will kill us all.

There is an insidious infection abroad in the land, and it has especially afflicted the transport industry. Profit at all costs is what it is. When asked to name the worst of the worst when it comes to the business of moving Kenya's armies of workers from home to work and back again, one would not be surprised if the same names kept cropping up again and again: Citi Hoppa, City Shuttle, KBS, Forward Traveller, Nissan or Mike Sonko. The late John Njoroge Michuki may have been universally reviled by the hordes of civil society types who accused him of employing extra-legal means to rid Kenya of organised crime gangs such as the Mungiki, but millions of Kenyans stood four-square with him when he declared that the unruliness of the transport sector owners and operators had gone on for far too long. When he decided to reform the industry, he did so by using draconian means that received the unreserved support of the motoring public. Yet, less than a decade later hundreds of thousands of Kenyans continue to live in the shadow of the most reviled industry in all the land.

Amos Kimunya, the Minister for Transport, does not have the charisma or the personal fortitude that John Michuki had; it is anticipated that the amended Traffic Act will not be the panacea for our transport ills any time soon. The Kenya Railways Corporation is not riding to the rescue any time soon either; its plan to move thousand of motorists off the roads and onto its new swanky passenger trains will not solve the problem of moving millions of Kenyans on public roads in safety and comfort and at affordable fares. Until the good Minister grows a real spine, matatu crews will continue to cock a snook at him. They will flout any and all rules imposed on them; they will continue to endanger the public safety unless someone says enough is enough. Minister Kimunya has singularly failed to take a Michuki-like muscular approach to cleaning up the transport sector. His efforts may only bear fruit in the long run if he ignores the weeping and wailing of "investors" in the transport sector and enforced - ruthlessly - the laws already on the books.

In Kenya, laws operate as suggestions; no one really thinks that they should pay the price for committing traffic offenses. It is enough to "talk nicely" to the law enforcement officers, be they from the police service or from the notoriously corrupt local authorities. Matatu crews routinely flout the Traffic Code without batting an eye lid. In the quest to earn ever greater profit, they will routinely carry passengers beyond the allowed capacity for their vehicles, they'll overlap, they'll speed recklessly, they'll stop where they please to pick or drop off passengers; in short, they will put the interests of owners and operators ahead of the safety and comfort of their passengers. To take the case of City Hoppa for example, one is hard-pressed to find a single Citi Hoppa bust that is clean, with courteous crew, driven at a speed that guarantees greater safety or maintained in a manner that suggests resources were expended to make the bus safe. The 3 + 2 seating arrangement guarantees that even where the bus has clean and operable seat-belts, there is at least one row of passengers that will be unable to wear the lifesavers. Citi Hoppa buses are not designed to be safe; they are designed to earn its callous owners massive profits.

It is this profit instinct that places the nation in ever greater peril. When the courts ordered Kenya Airways to reinstate its sacked workers, the whingeing from the Kenya Private Sector Alliance was a sight to behold. At a press conference, the men and women speaking for Kenya's private sector were at pains to cavil against the courts for judgments that would affect their bottom lines. In the decade of President Kibaki's reign, the private sector has had a friend in State House, ever ready to offer them a willing ear when it came to government policy regarding investment and labour relations. They have abused this open door policy. In the last ten years, the numbers of Kenyan workers who could count on the security of an employment contract has dwindled drastically; many millions have worked in increasingly dangerous conditions because the private sector has always found a way of ensuring that the laws that protect workers have been watered down to irrelevance. No one says that investors should not enjoy a return on their investment; all one is asking is that rather than park your profits in some off-shore bank account or in property that you are unlikely to enjoy in ten lifetimes, it is time the private sector reconsidered its objectives.

Monday, December 10, 2012

1992 to 2012: Change is slow in coming.

Abraham Korir Sing'oei, appearing tonight on Agenda Kenya, argues that the TNA/URP pact is meant to forestall the violence that has wracked, especially, the Rift Valley in every election year bar 2002 since 1992. He may be correct. He sees nothing wrong in alliances being formed by ethnic communities that have traditionally warred "fought" each other. His main argument, which is surprising for an "international human rights lawyer", is that the pact is good for the economy because a lot of money is lost every time there is ethnically- inspired political violence in Kenya.

While the concern for the economy is warranted, it should not be placed over and above the loss of life that the violence has traditionally engendered. Some of us were mere striplings living in the warm cocoon of Nairobi when the Rift Valley first experienced ethnic classes in 1992. Suddenly, Nairobi was full of up-country emigres fleeing the pogroms from little-known towns like Molo, Burnt Forest and Elburgon. For the temerity of entertaining Kenneth Matiba's overtures, the members of the Kikuyu community who had settled in these agriculturally-rich areas were burnt out of their houses and on the fear of beheadings and public burning, fled their homes, some never to return. In 1997, it was the turn of Luos living in the Likoni area of Mombasa who faced the brunt of ethnic violence at the hands of the ethnic communities at the Coast. In 2007/08, it was not enough that hundreds of thousands of Kikuyus were targetted in the expansive Rift Valley, there was retaliation against Kalenjins and their erstwhile allies the Luos, Luhyas and Kisiis living in parts of the M Kenya region and Kikuyu-dominated towns such as Nakuru. For the first time Nairobi was not spared; hitherto peaceably coexisting ethinc communities in Nairobi's expansive informal settlements set upon each other with machetes and tore into each other with so much anger and violence the nation is yet to heal even five years later.

Mr Sing'oei's analysis of the pacts between political parties, but especially the TNA/URP one, may be informed by the narrative that it is communities that went after each other and not that their political leaders cheated them into doing it. When the Kalenjin and the Kikuyu are brought together in a political coalition, it is presumed that Messrs Kenyatta and Ruto speak for their ethnic communities, that they have been specifically empowered to enter into these deals as tribal chieftains. No proof is provided to demonstrate that they speak for entire ethnic communities, and no proof is provided that these political deals are for their peoples' interests.

It is moot that many Kenyans believe that politicians simply ride on the backs of their ethnic communities to political power and influence. Their communities very rarely enjoy the benefits of their favourite sons' and daughters' political power. What has remained unchanged since the first hovel was set ablaze in 1992 is that the poor have remained poor while their political leaders have become fabulously wealthy. Some statistics have remained unchanged for almost twenty years. Youth unemployment, the source of much of the cannon fodder expended during ethnic clashes, has remained stubbornly high, in the double-digits for the past fifteen years. While more and more Kenyans are spending more and more to send their children to school, sometimes all the way to university, the harsh reality is that very few of their scions get gainful employment; millions are consigned to the informal sector, shunned by credit institutions and treated with suspicion by the very same politicians who promised them the moon in the depths of hardcore political campaigning.

Perhaps in an ethnically diverse and complex society like Kenya there is no hope for political peace without the ethno-mathematics that has come to define "coalition-building" of late. Perhaps the likes of Mzalendo Kibunjia's NCIC have gotten it wrong all along; there is no such thing as negative ethnicity, just warmongering politicking. Perhaps it is time to admit that we will not become a nation until our vestigial need to organise along ethnic lines has been Darwinised. The natural selection of Darwinism, perhaps, is the route we should follow; the strong will survive; the weak will be cast aside. Perhaps only then will affirmative action for the weak, vulnerable and marginalised begin to reverse the pernicious effects of twenty years of ethnic priming. Maybe one day will make ethnic kingpins irrelevant. That day, sadly, is not today.

We have moved on and we are the poorer for it.

It should come as no surprise that opponents of The Hague trials of Kenyans accused of international crimes has fizzled out. They began by arguing that it was an assault on our sovereignty as a nation; that it was a power-grab by the West to dictate how we would govern ourselves, especially when it comes to investigating "international crimes" and how to punish those found guilty. That particular line failed to get traction, especially after the Committee of Experts sneakily, in some minds, added clauses to the Proposed Constitution that effectively made all treaties Kenya has signed and ratified part of the law of Kenya and, generally, international law. Their next plan of attack was that since The Promulgation, Kenya had undergone a rapid transformation, especially in it Governance, Justice, Law and Order Sector. The reforms undertaken in the Judiciary, they argued, were well-underway and would guarantee a free and fair trial for the men accused of being behind the horrific crimes of 2008. But because many opponents of The Hague Process also opposed the creation of a "local mechanism", that argument has fallen by the way-side too. Now they have latched on a variation of the Sovereignty Argument: that Kenyans must be given an opportunity to accept or reject the two leading ICC suspects at the hustings and that should the tow be elected to the presidency as President and Deputy President, Kenyans will have declared for all the world to see that they have washed their hands of the crimes committed in the aftermath of our last general election and that Kenyans do not for one minute believe that Messrs Kenyatta and Ruto are guilty of the crimes they have been accused of.

Philosophically, many Kenyans are appalled by the idea that an international court that does not enjoy any legitimacy in the eyes of Kenyans would be tasked with the duty of unmasking the truth of the crimes committed in 2008. In our minds, we have abdicated our duties to one another by refusing to honestly difficult confront difficult truths, such as that Messrs Kenyatta and Ruto may very well be guilty of the crimes they have been accused of. Mr Justice Waki must have confronted these truths and in his estimations, regardless of what Kenyans did, the right course would have been for the establishment of a separate judicial mechanism to handle the crimes or, in the alternative, an honest, outside force would have to do it for us. We are where we are today because we chose neither; instead, a timetable made by Justice Waki's Commission, forced the hand of the man we had reposed faith in to shepherd the healing process and he gave the International Criminal Court the go-ahead to investigate and try the persons accused of being responsible.

This long lead in brings me to whether the choice Kenyans are being offered today can legitimately be made. Whether Messrs Kenyatta and Ruto stand in the 2013 general election says nothing of their guilt or innocence and those arguing that it does are attempting to take Kenya back to the days when guilt or innocence was immaterial to offering succour to the victims of crimes in our system. No one doubts that crimes were committed in 2008 and no one doubts that in some specific instances these crimes were committed after careful planning and prosecution. What is in doubt is whether Messrs Kenyatta and Ruto are the only men responsible for the crimes and whether they alone should stand trial. It is not in doubt that they are politicians of national standing and with huge constituencies and that their supporters want them to stand in the 2013 elections. They have ignored the warnings of doom and gloom that should they stand, Kenya shall lose, especially if by their victory Kenya becomes the subject of economic and political sanctions from world powers. They are right to ignore those warnings for they say nothing of their guilt or innocence.

The Rome Statute, our own Constitution and the laws made under it declare a man's innocence until a court rules otherwise. Until they are convicted - if they are convicted - Messrs Kenyatta and Ruto have as much right as the next man to pursue their political ambitions. But let us not pretend that they are accused of petty crimes or that they come into the elections with clean hands. The crimes for which they are charged with are crimes that the international community has declared beyond the pale of civilisation. Messrs Kenyatta and Ruto are not ordinary politicians. With a word they are capable of bringing this country to its knees because of the commanding constituencies in their respective corners. They want to rule? Fine. Should they win, they shouldn't pretend that they will happily co-operate with the International Criminal Court. What many Kenyans expect, especially their constituencies, is that if they win, and if the trials proceed as expected, they will use the power and might of the Executive to resist every step of the way being held accountable for the crimes they are accused of committing in 2008. What they will conveniently forget are the victims of the crimes they are accused of. The hundreds of thousands who were illegally dispossessed of their land and property, the thousands who were murdered, maimed, crippled, raped and tortured, and the billions in shillings lost in public and private property will be a mere blip on their radars. Whether we want to admit it or not, the plight of the victims is no longer our priority. The elections and the fate of the two are. We have moved on.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

It is Odinga or bust!

KANU A v KANU B. Is this what the Second Liberation has come down to? Daniel Toroitich arap Moi famously predicted that KANU would rule for a hundred years. I see no reason to doubt the prescience of his words. In the current environment, the only true outsider is Raila Odinga; everyone else is an orphan of the system that brought low what was once a promising nation. Look at the leading lights on both sides of the 2013 contest: Kalonzo Musyoka, Uhuru Kenyatta, Musalia Mudavadi, Henry Hosgey, Sally Kosgei, William Ruto, Chirau Ali Mwakwere...the list is depressingly long. Look at the pronouncements of the men that seek to rule and you hear the faint echoes of Baba Moi's exhortations down the years.

In 2010, Kenyans ratified a Constitution that was supposed to give us a complete break with the past. We failed to reckon with the entrenched self-interest of the KANU orphans. When they failed to set back the efforts of Nzamba Kitonga and his CoE, they decided on a Plan B: make it difficult as possible to implement the document in letter or in spirit. Now we are left with the depressing thought that regardless of how government is organised in 2013, KANU will somehow still be calling the shots.

But we have an opportunity. Regardless of how much you love or loath the Prime Minister, and despite the disappointment he has engendered in his role as the second most powerful man in the Executive to date, Mr Odinga keeps the promise of change alive. It is not without reason that many seasoned Kenyans will appreciate the years of unlawful detention Mr Odinga was subjected to. It is with good reason that we recall his efforts in 1997 and 2002 to keep Baba Moi honest. Mr Odinga, for all the vitriol directed at him, has managed to do what Daniel Moi did: become the central focus of all forces determined to make an impact on the political arena that we call Kenya. In his absence, Kenya will flounder on the rocks of vested interests, corruption and business as usual.

Kenyans are faced with a stark choice. Either they choose to move forward, warts and all, or they revert to tired old men and women without an ounce of shame in their skeletons. Uhuru Kenyatta has proven a hard nut to crack. The scion of Kenya's founding president, Mr Kenyatta has a devoted following among the power-brokers in Kibaki's kitchen cabinet. But even they have come to the realisation that it is futile to elect Mr Kenyatta to succeed Mwai Kibaki: the indictments at the ICC will complicate the fragile recovery Kenya is undergoing five years after the events of 2007/08. They have hit upon a Plan B (though some think it was the Plan A). It is alleged that they sponsored the formation of Musalia Mudavadi's UDF and now they are attempting to foist Mr Mudavadi as the compromise TNA/URP/UDF candidate to face-off against Raila Odinga in 2013. They refuse to read the mood of the nation, especially the young and the marginalised.

In 2002 when KANU was brought down by the combined efforts of Raila Odinga and the LDP rebels, it was not because Kenyans simply rejected the perpetuation of Moi's rule through The Project aka Uhuru Kenyatta; it was because the promise that we had made to ourselves in 1963 was about to be realised. But Moi was much cannier than we anticipated. Somehow, even with the utter destruction of Kenya's Independence Party, he managed to ensure that it was his policies that were applied, it was his philosophies that held sway. Suspicion and betrayal marked Mwai Kibaki's first term; and it is suspicion and betrayal that marked the Coalition Government. In all this, Mr Odinga adapted to the changing circumstances, keeping his vision alive in the face of such stark odds.

Now he is in the winter of his political career and he has only one chance to make his final play. Mr Odinga has demonstrated that he understands Kenya's position in the world; that it is not just about local politics. He has managed, despite sabotage and back-stabbing, to keep the name of Kenya in the good books of world capitals. That he has supped with devils with a long spoon is not to be gainsaid, but he had no choice. The political arena is for realists and idealists alike but it is the realists who make things happen and the idealists who whinge and wring their hands in despair.If Mr Odinga succeeds in 2013, and if his coalition enjoys a majority in Parliament, and if it also controls a majority of the Counties in Kenya, Mr Odinga has the chance to forge ahead without the baggage of KANU ideas to wear him down. This is not the case for a victory by the TNA/URP/UDF alliance. The Jubilee Alliance, attempting to co-opt fifty years of Independence, is the least well-intentioned party in Kenya and it is in our best interests to reject KANU and its off-spring once and for all.

Friday, December 07, 2012

We are what we are.

If it was not for the strange feeling that we were getting punk'd, Kenyans would go "Meh!" and switch to another channel. But this siasa business is getting off to an exciting start. It has been clear for some time that there are few Kenyan politicians with the "It Factor": Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. Never mind their core supporters, Peter Kenneth, Martha Karua, Moses Wetangula, Raphael Tuju, Charity Ngilu, Eugene Wanalwa and Musalia Mudavadi just don't command the same kind of fanaticism that the three do. Between the three of them, they command at least three-quarters of the national vote, if Messrs Infotrak/Harris & Co. are anything to go by.

Ahmed Issack Hassan is a worried man. Kenyans have done what Kenyans are wont to do. They are keeping to their own schedule when it comes to the process of registering to vote. Now, some speculate that Kenyans will simply wait until the penultimate day and then turn up in an impatient horde and demand swift service. This is after all, one of our "peculiar" habits. We last-minute everything. Think of the countless times Kenyans have demanded that Death Certificates and Burial Permits be issued on the day that we intend to inter our loved ones. Received wisdom has it that we will simply wait until the 18th and decide that we want to vote so we'll do everything in our power to make the IEBC pay for their rather foolish thought that they could successfully complete voter registration in thirty days.

However, there is an insurrectionist thought that sees this as the first time we are getting a true picture of exactly how many voters there really are. Mr Hassan thinks that by the end of the exercise, going by current trends, we will only register 12 million voters. If this is so, then this must be the true number of voters to be harangued by the likes of Messrs Odinga, Kenyatta and Ruto. With the BVRs, the likelihood of the dead turning up and actually voting has diminished significantly. I dare say it has been eliminated, but I will not bet against a canny Kenyan who'll certainly find a way of registering the dead and getting them to vote. Elections are too important in the scheme of Kenyan things to left simply to the living. I wouldn't bet against an event of such importance that the BVRs will all simultaneously malfunction and voting will have to be completed using manual rolls, either.

The shenanigans surrounding the question of whether Mr Kenyatta is being forced to step down in favour of Mr Mudavadi point to the fraught nature of voting in Kenya. There is a die-hard mentality among Mr Kenyatta's cheering section and they may yet do something completely outrageous just to see their champion best all others at the hustings. So too might the Raila Damu Brigade. Kenya has always done things its own way, and the 2013 elections will be so.

While many African countries inter-spaced military dictatorships with short stints of pseudo-democracy, we have always relied on the rigged election to choose our presidents. Now, we've only had the three, but other than the 2002 general election, there isn't a pundit worth his newspaper column who thinks that all other elections were not exercises in outright election thuggery run amok. Kivuitu & Co. were really not to blame for the shambles that were the 2007 general election; they were simply doing what Kenyans had always done. Rig, steal and kill in the name of elections. Now if Mr Hassan thinks we are simply going to vote like normal voters, he really needs a shrink to remind him of the reality that is the Kenyan election.

Of course, I could be wrong. The BVRs will work like magic. 18 million voters will turn out for registration, will vote peaceably and will peaceably go about their business while the next tenant at State House is choosing the curtain fabric and testing his butt on Baba Mi's old chair. Mr Hassan and the IEBC will become national heroes, their status as honest brokers burnished by a flawless process. Willy Mutunga's Judiciary, after months of planning, will process with alacrity the petitions that will be filed by the few disgruntled losers who'll bother to go to court. The 1st Parliament of the Second Republic will rubber-stamp the President's public appointments and Kenya will set off into a bright new dawn confident that Vision 2030's goals will be fully realised. This time next year, we may be complaining that Kenya has become dull and sedate because everyone is on their best behaviour. We live in hope after all as Kenyans are wont to do!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

More pot-stirring.

I thought that the political situation was just about settled yesterday. Alliances-cum-coalitions had been crafted to ensure that this, that or the other would secure a first-round victory in the 2013 presidential slug-fest we mistakenly think of as elections. Tank God for the likes of Kereke Mbiuki and Rachel Shebesh. Every time we think the bar for political chicanery has been set very low, their ilk come along and remind us that the bottom of the barrel is still a ways away. According to these two, and their fellow-travellers in the TNA bandwagon, there is "pressure from State House" to impose Musalia Mudavadi as the top of the ticket in 2013, with Uhuru Kenyatta being "coerced" to bide his time while he settles the small matter of the ICC indictment hanging fire over him. Ms Shebesh, in typical bouffant, is having none of it. She is adamant: if Uhuru is locked out of the ticket in 2013, unspecified hell will descend on poor Musalia's head and not only will he lose the presidential vote, he will do so because the entire party will be against him (and by extension, the entire Mount Kenya region). Mr Mbiuki's warning is more dire: if Musalia is "imposed" on TNA, "all roads will lead to Bondo." Two days ago, Musalia Mudavadi was the cat that swallowed the canary; in the coming days he will need to keep his Cheshire-cat grin hidden in his chubby cheeks and work hard to persuade the Rachel Shebeshes of TNA that he can be trusted to lock out Raila Odinga from State House. If he doesn't, his will be the shortest stint at the top of the ticket in Kenya's history.

Meanwhile, Kalonzo seems to be entertaining overtures from his former bug-bears in TNA. "Taking afternoon tea" with the likes of Shebesh and Gidion Mbuvi aka Mike Sonko this afternoon is bound to keep Raila Odinga and his ODM cohort on their toes. Raila Odinga pulled a fast one on the Vice-President when he kept the imminent arrival of Charity Ngilu, Kalonzo Musyoka's bete noire, hidden from the Veep during the colourful alliance-signing ceremony at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre. Only the willfully naive will ignore the fact that the Veep and the Water Minister cannot stomach each other. There isn't an acting school in the world that will train the pair to smile politely at each other during the coming months leading to the election if the two remain in the ODM alliance. The Veep's afternoon tete-a-tete must be seen as his most subtle (well, subtle as a sledgehammer) indication that his options remain open until the final ballot is counted and the Prime Minister had better remember it if he is to succeed in his eternal quest to spend a night at State House as the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Forces of Kenya.

In the other main alliance it seems that Gideon Moi and his rump of KANU are being viewed as interlopers, unwelcome guests in the Uhuru/Ruto love-in that has been six months in the making. Chepalungu's Isaac Ruto is not amused. In his eyes, Gideon Moi and KANU are up to no good and are unwelcome in his party's alliance with TNA. Mr Moi knows that Kenyans will never elect him president; he is happy enough to keep giving his former party-mates sleepless nights as he makes his minor political moves in the Rift Valley. While his party is barely visible nationally, Mr Moi knows that the Moi name commands significant loyalty in the Rift Valley and he is making his play at this time to remind Uhuru Kenyatta and his URP allies that their will not be a walk in the park unless they accommodate some of KANU's deepest desires.

This Christmas is going to be an interesting one. Now that we know that alliances and coalitions are really not worth the paper they are written on, it remains to be seen who will be the first to cross the Rubicon and dump his allies in favour of either going it alone or supporting some dark horse in order to frustrate the ambitions of the firsts-among-equals. The likes of Ms Shebesh, Mr Ruto and Mr Musyoka will keep the pot boiling for as long as possible until every single political promise has been extracted to their benefit. If not, they will simply tip over the pot and let what will be, be. Kwani, Wakenya mta-do?

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Games and more games.

December 4th came and went with a bang! Kalonzo Musyoka, who'd been playing coy with Raila Odinga finally led his Wiper Democratic Movement into an alliance with ODM. Moses Wetangula and Ford-Kenya received second billing and only because he is a Cabinet Minister. Musalia Mudavadi led Peter Kenneth and Raphael Tuju down the garden path but eventually settled for his 2002 boon mate, Uhuru Kenyatta. By tying his United Democratic Front to Uhuru Kenyatta's The National Alliance, he has resurrected the losing 2002 ticket. William Ruto, as always, will play the brides-maid, and all that it entails; if the TNA/UDF/URP ticket is successful, Mr Ruto must give up his presidential ambitions for the time being, defend his Eldoret North seat and take his place as Majority Leader in the National Assembly, assuming of course the alliance commands a majority.

The Big Story though, is Raila Odinga's and Kalonzo Musyoka's apparent rapprochement. These senior politicians have had a poisonous relationship since Kalonzo Musyoka decided to take control of ODM-K way back in 2007. Raila Odinga saw it as a betrayal and he did everything in his power to paint Mr Musyoka as the traitor of the Orange Movement that gave Mwai Kibaki's Banana Team such a hiding during the 2005 referendum for the much-loathed Wako Draft Constitution. The few scanty details available about the deal demonstrate that these two are yet to trust each other politically; they will contest the leadership of the alliance and whoever wins will be the top of the ticket. No mention has been made of what the loser gets. Running mate? Majority Leader? Speaker? And what about Moses Wetangula? Though a no-hopper in the presidential contest, he must be allowed to dip his beak, as Italian Mafiosi would have put it: his cohort of Western Kenya MPs, should they be elected, will expect some sort of quid pro quo from the winning ticket.

Much column inches of newsprint is dedicated to analysing how power will be shared by the winning tickets. Most forget that there has been a radical shift in the political calculations that prevailed. Previously, though 2007 demonstrated that even this was at an end, the President had a free hand to appoint Cabinet Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, heads of diplomatic missions, state corporation head-honchos and sundry other appointments. That particular trough is gone. For the President to get his way, not only must he lead his alliance to victory, he must ensure that the alliance commands a sufficiently large majority in Parliament so that it may rubber-stamp his choices of senor government officials, from the Cabinet on down. So far, the opinion polls have conflated the popularity of presidential candidates with that of their parties; this may be a grave error. 2013 may end up with a divided government: the winning alliance may take control of the Executive branch but the another alliance may control Parliament and, by extension, the appointment of senior government officials. Maybe the campaigns will demonstrate whether an alliance will control both the Executive and Parliament.

Today, the effect of the ICC indictments against Messrs Kenyatta and Ruto has been largely discounted on the face of it. Their supporters seem confident that they are innocent, that they will win in 2013, and that their relationship with the ICC will not poison the political environment or the diplomatic relations of Kenya. Their supporters' faith will be tested in 2013 and I fear that it will be shattered when it becomes apparent that not only will they lose the election because of the ICC, but that their only hope of escaping the clutches of the ICC is for the winning candidate to strike a deal that lets them keep their freedom. Raila Odinga has demonstrated that it is never too late to have a second act in politics; all they have to do is pay obeisance to Raila Odinga and he will do right by them, though probably not for the hundreds of thousands of the victims of the PEV.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Chance of a lifetime.

Kenya faces its greatest challenge in 2013. The last time we were at the rodeo, national institutions were discredited. The Electoral Commission of Kenya screwed up so royally that it took the intervention of the African Union and its Panel of Eminent African Personalities to midwife the birth of whole-scale reforms in our body politic. The political institutions of the day had been ossified by decades of KANU hegemony that not even the most sunniest optimist believed that things could improve. Four years-and-change later, not only do Kenyans have a Constitution that they can be proud of (never mind the perennial sticks-in-the-mud), but political competition is yet to lead to the same level of uncertainty as we had going into the 2007 general election.

We may still harbour doubts about the reforms taking place in various sectors, such as in the security sector or in the organisation of the devolved government, but by and large we trust the politicians to play with a straight bat this time around. Messrs Kenyatta and Ruto are going to remain talking points for their decision to stand for the presidency despite their indictments at the International Criminal Court, but they have professed their innocence and it is now up to a reforming Judiciary to pronounce with finality whether they are fit to stand for the presidency. Despite a few false starts to their campaign, they have sharpened their rhetoric without calling for the heads of those they perceive as their persecutors. This is the essence of a robust democratic process; every one must have their say even when only one may be victorious at the ballot box. For better (we hope) or for ill (perish the thought), the duo will contest, with one or the other being the standard-bearer, and Kenyans shall take the opportunity to either give them a hiding or to elect their ticket to arguably the most coveted seat in Kenya.

Mwai Kibaki, whose first name is Emilio, has represented Othaya Constituency for nigh on four decades, but it is his last decade that he has truly come into his own. His legacy will be a mixed bag: highways as well as rising economic inequity. Kenyans tom-tomming his accomplishments constantly remind us that "Kenya is a rich country" and no one doubts it with ego-boosting discoveries of oil and gas, and the construction of shiny new highways. Vision 2030 has become national mantra: we will rise or fall by its diktats and the Lamu South Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor Project as well as the Silicon Savannah in Makueni County will be showcases of our success or albatrosses that spell our economic ruin when they are fully implemented as Vision 2030 flag-ship projects. The man on the street has given his full backing for the implementation of that economic blueprint and it is only for the organs of the State to play their rightful parts. The hopes of millions upon millions call upon the dedication and the sacrifice of one and all to ensure that the future generations of Kenyans will say that in 2013 we made a choice and it was the right one.

Threats, of course, exist. Amos Kimunya is experimenting with the draconian enforcement of the law when it comes to our lawless highways of death and destruction. If he succeeds, as the late John Michuki did, Kenyans will have proven to themselves that it is not for the "others" that laws are written but for all. If we can resolve the relatively simple matter of managing our public transport infrastructure, where every one that uses it plays by the rules, then the sky is the limit. We have done it before, too. When Kenya first enacted the Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act in 1999, there were fears, loud ones from the business community, that it would stymie investment and reduce growth. More than a decade later, Kenyans are proud of the job that environmental agencies are doing, though they know that more could still be done. The same must come to pass with the amended Traffic Act: if we can successfully enforce it, harrowing tales of matatu drivers delivering their passengers to their Maker in an untimely fashion will be scary stories we tell our children in the decades to come.

We must therefore, guard our assets with jealousy. It is not for one man or one community to dictate where we go from here. It is our solemn duty to ensure that the men and women we entrust with our welfare are persons of probity, whose integrity is unchallenged. We have sought this opportunity ever since Jomo Kenyatta turned out to have feet of clay and it is an opportunity that we must grasp like a drowning man and a straw. We may never get this chance n our lifetimes again.

Being nice.

We will give this our best shot. We make no promises, though.

It is official. Kalonzo Musyoka and Raila Odinga have buried the hatchet and made up with each other. Together with Ford-Kenya's Moses Wetangula, an alliance has been crafted to see the trio through the search for a single presidential candidate and his running mate to take on the TNA/URP alliance. What was surprising was the presence of a beaming Charity Ngilu, who'd recently been entertaining overtures from the Uhuru camp going so far as to accompany Mr Kenyatta to Burundi on one of his get-to-know-your-presidential-neighbours jaunts. It was surprising not because Charity Ngilu had already shown more than a passing interest in the Uhuru candidacy, nor because she herself is a presidential candidate, but because she cannot stand the presence of Kalonzo Musyoka. The feeling is mutual on both sides. But if Kalonzo and Raila have managed a rapprochement, the romantic in me sees no reason why there cannot be one between Kalonzo and Mama rainbow.

Peter Kenneth and his Starehe Boys' Centre fellow alumnus Raphael Tuju are in talks with Musalia Mudavadi to strike an alliance, forming the so-called third way. This is a promising development. The trio have been treated with contempt by those jostling to fulfill Raila Odinga's prediction that the 2013 general election will be a two-horse race. Of the three, Mr Kenneth offers the nearest to a clean break with the past that Kenyans have been demanding. Even his brief jaunts in various government-affiliated institutions have not tainted his rather sunny character or optimism. While his colleagues have had to contend with unflattering reviews of the CDF kitties, Mr Kenneth has received only glowing ones. On that score, no one doubts that Mr Kenneth has kept his fingers as far away from the cookie jar as he could get without being accused of being aloof. His picture-perfect scions are a credit to the man too; if there is an alternative to the Raila/Kalonzo or Uhuru/Ruto tickets, it would be one headlined by Mr Kenneth. Mr Tuju could have done more a Foreign Affairs Minister in Kibaki's first government and Mr Mudavadi should have demonstrated more spine when it became apparent that he was always going to be the bride to Raila Odinga's groom. In the triumvirate, their best chance of success, much as it will pain many anti-Mt Kenya loudmouths to hear, would be if the top of the ticket were Mr Kenneth and they played second and third fiddles.

It is a bit sad to see the decline of Martha Karua's rebellion but no amount of sugar-coating is going to ease the bitterness of it. The Flower Party wave has run its course and in due course Martha Karua will become another foot note a la Charity Ngilu and the late Wangarai Maathai. Ms Karua's campaign, however, has had a salutary effect on the quality of debate around certain issues, whether she intended it or not, most notably the Two-thirds Gender Rule. If it was not for her and, to some extent Kingwa Kamencu, the campaign trail would only feature old men with old ideas. Martha Karua has forced even the bigger campaigns to elevate their level of thinking with a view to meeting the needs of all Kenyans and not just a favoured few.We should all hold out hope that when the Raila/Kalonzo ticket needs it, Martha Karua will step in to be the power in the National Assembly that they will need to get things done.

For the first time in five years, we will not have a fraught Christmas. With elections pushed back into the first quarter of the New Year, this Christmas should be spent ensuring that we keep our sanity while on the roads, caring for our nearest and dearest, rekindling alliances with family and friends, and stuffing ourselves silly in the full knowledge that the 2013 campaign will slim us down quick. We the opportunity to reflect on what we want for ourselves and our communities. We have the chance to make the right choice. This all that a man can ask: to have a choice.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Kimunya, kaa ngumu!

Nairobi's matatu operators, and the car-owning classes, are in shock. After months of dithering, hemming-and-hawing, the Amended Traffic Act came into force at the stroke of midnight on Saturday, December 1st. Three days of a matatu strike has not seen the Executive backing down, as it has been wont to do in the past. When the Transport Ministry decided to phase out the fourteen-seaters, the implementation of that policy was met with such strident opposition that the programme was quietly shelved. Not so the commencement of the harsher penalties unveiled in the Traffic Act.

As always, it is the commuting public that has borne the brunt of the reaction of matatu operators in Nairobi. Monday morning witnessed extortionate fares from the few operators who chose to put their buses on the roads to serve Nairobi's armies of work-bound employees. And as always, Nairobi's commuters took it stoically, with nary a whimper. It has been a long time coming. Despite what the representatives of the transport industry declaim, Public Service Vehicles have become a menace. Driven like bats out of hell, profit has been their North Star, the safety and comfort of their passengers being seen as inconveniences easily ignored. While Kenyans have stared horrified at the mounting statistics of death on our roads due to the madness, especially of matatu operators, it is the silent majority of the injured, the maimed, the incapacitated and the crippled that should cause us pause.

In a nation where the persons with disabilities receive the scant attention of an Executive with more important matters to take care of, the hundreds of thousands of Kenyans who have lost limbs and more to the madness on our roads continue to suffer a thousand times more because no facilities are provided to make their lives more livable. The right to life that the faith-based organisations so powerfully debated during the referendum campaign of 2010 must surely also mean that it is accompanied by a quality that makes that right meaningful. Of what benefit is it for the State to guarantee your life when even basic bodily functions cannot be carried out without being shamed in public places?

The Government of Kenya has done some to at least provide for access for those in wheel-chairs; but it has a long, tortuous road ahead of it if it is to make their lives as comfortable as for those who are able-bodied. Willy Mutunga promises to fire up his Judges so that the sclerotic pace of litigation is speeded up. He too faces a long, tortuous road for his Judiciary continues to avidly stymie his every progressive move. In its implementation of the amended Traffic Act, the Executive must demonstrate unwavering resolve. No more the two-steps-forward-one-step-back of yore. Criminally negligent and downright murderous drivers must be reminded that theirs is a privilege and not a right. They may drive on our public roads, but only if they accept that the roads belong to all and must be enjoyed in safety. If Amos Kimunya fails to see this task through, he should be hang by his ears from the nearest lamp-post (provided, of course, the scrap-metal vandals have not made away with them!)

We are no longer kicking the can down the road.

Raphael Tuju is correct in one important regard: coalitions have very little to do with what ails Kenya's body politic and everything to do with the greedy grasp for power by an elite few whose every breath is taken in the sure knowledge that when their bums are in the top seat, they will do everything in their power to stay there as long as possible and swindle the long-suffering citizenry for all they have. William Ruto's URPa nd Uhuru Kenyatta's TNA have signed a "pre-election deal". In it they agree to "share power" by sharing out the public appointments to be made by their government should their ticket be the winning one. One tiny mystery remains thogh: who will Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto choose to be a Cabinet Secretary, a Principal Secretary, an ambassador or High Commissioner or head of a diplomatic mission? Whom will they settle one to succeed Willy Mutunga should his term as Chief Justice end during their reign? Whom will they settle on to head many of the state corporations being established in a hurry? What is their legislative agenda like? Will they push for the complete and total implementation of the Constitution? What will they do to ensure that the Two-thirds Gender Rule is enforced?

These are not just questions that the Uhuru/Ruto ticket must settle; they are questions even the venerable Raila Odinga must answer. It is not enough any more for the men and women who seek hegemony over us to promise us the moon. It is vital that their promises are accompanied by detailed statements of policy. However, Messrs Kenyatta and Ruto face peculiar challenges. If it was not for the niggling matter of their indictments by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, they would not be displaying such fraternal bonhomie as they are today. They have been trying to square the circle of who is primus inter pares for months and even with the deal signed, it is not clear who will play second fiddle to the other. In Raila Odinga's kingdom, there can only be one king. If, as reported, Kalonzo Musyoka leads his Wiper Democratic Movement into a pact with the ODM, he must be prepared to take the position of Deputy President.

There are details that seem to have flown over the heads of those seeking political alliances. Opinion polls, such as they have indicated the mood of the nation, have simply failed to indicate the direction the nation will take in the aftermath of the general election. No one seems concerned that there is every possibility that Kenya will end up with a divided government: one coalition controlling Parliament while the other controlling the Executive branch. If the likes of Elias Mbau, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Budget Committee, and Adan Keynan, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Defense and Foreign Relations Committee, are anything to go by, the next President will not have an easy task bending the National Assembly or the Senate to his will. The Tenth Parliament has demonstrated that in certain circumstances, it will not heed the demands of the Executive and it will do as it pleases, the consequences be damned. If the winning ticket does not sweep the Parliamentary sweepstakes, it might not be able to govern; it may not even get the opportunity to appoint its own officers without ceding valuable political space to the National Assembly. Indeed, if the winning ticket is the Uhuru/Ruto one, and Parliament is ODM/Wiper dominated, we may yet witness the first impeachment of a sitting president and his deputy!

Kenya enters uncharted waters without a navigation chart and its voyage across the treacherous 2013 general election remains perilous at best. In 2007, emotions ran so high that it was easy for one-half of the country to convulse itself in an orgy of violence for the utterances of one man and his cohort. 2013 may yet be the last chance Kenyans have to set their nation on a path to prosperity. For the first time since Independence, the stars align in our favour: a progressive Constitution with real checks and balances; a demographic bounty that the West can only dream of; the nascent stirrings of independent institutions that strive to keep every one hones; and a recognition that we sink or swim because of the rule of law. The debate over whether Uhuru or Ruto should stand for high office is now moot; they will stand come hell or high water. It is just a question of whether their candidacies will save or damn the nation. We are no longer kicking the can down the road in the hopes of a miracle. The miracle will come when we peaceably go to the polls, peaceably vote for the man or woman of our choice, peaceably accept the results of the vote, and peaceably begin to rebuild after the terrifying events of 2007 and 2008.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Who is Duale kidding?


Someone needs to educate Aden Duale, the combative Dujis MP who dumped ODM with his boon friend William Ruto when it became apparent that they would not become kings in Raila Odinga's kingdom: he is a member of the government by virtue of being a member of the disgraced Tenth Parliament. Someone also needs to remind him that MPs are not and should not automatically be entitled to protection at public expense simply because they are our elected representatives. It's time that Kenyans rejected the idea that their elected representatives enjoy privileges denied to the citizens. It is immoral for the National Assembly to call on police resources to keep them safe from the vagaries of the nation while millions upon millions of Kenyans live under the shadow of bandits' guns. Mr Duale wants us to believe that the National Assembly has played its role as an oversight institution vis-a-vis the Executive branch by scrutinising and approving the Finance Bills that have tracked mad through the hallowed halls of Parliament. In his mind, it is enough that MPs spend what little brain power they devote to the peoples' problems thinking up schemes for laying blame at the feet of one Executive agency or the other.

The deteriorating security situation in various parts of the country is not the fault of the Executive branch alone; the silent majority who stand idly by as marauding bandits walk among them must shoulder part, perhaps the lion's share, of the blame too. If the likes of Aden Duale were truly interested in sorting out the problems of, for example, cattle-rustling once and for all, all they have to do is engage in serious peace-building and not the truces that simply buy time for bandits and marauders to rearm and regroup. District peace committees have existed since the dark days of the 1992 land clashes; their effect has been limited at best. Organised as inter-ethnic negotiations, the peace-building committees have become the causes of entrenched stances among various leaders of ethnic blocs. Instead of attempting to reconcile communities, they have become talking shops in which participants earn meager allowances, civil society honchos earn fat ones, and everyone gives lip service to "culture" and "tradition" as reasonable excuses for inter-ethnic bloodletting and turn a beady eye to "political" interference in the process. It is time we admitted that these peace committees have failed, and that the failure has allowed persons with axes to grind, or billions to make, to take advantage.

What is not surprising about Mr Duale's casual approach to the problems is his equally cavalier dismissal of the allegations that Members of Parliament are divorced from reality regarding the plight of ordinary citizens at the hands of bandits. MPs see nothing wrong in tying up millions of man hours protecting themselves from the people that elected them. In their world, it is sufficient that they are elected representatives and that they say they know all. 

Mr Duale and his colleagues from the erstwhile Northern Frontier have represented some of the most back-ward communities in Kenya. They were elected in 2007 on the promise that that would make concerted efforts to reverse  the decades of official neglect that had left their communities bereft of even the most basic services. What they have done instead, is to aggrandise themselves on a massive scale, spending more time on committees and foreign junkets than on the business of serving their constituents. 

Even when their constituents have suffered from the violence that has customarily been suppressed by the State, Mr Duale and his colleagues have simply reduced their concern for the people into a contest between them and individual politicians; they have yet to confront the cultures and traditions that keep banditry and marauding raids alive. Mr Duale should stop taking the high road and instead, admit that his interest and those of the victims of the Baragoi massacre, both police and civilian, cannot rely on him for succour.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Which idiot will win outright?

Once upon a time a romantic notion prevailed abroad in the land that church premises were sanctuaries for those escaping persecution. This romantic notion was eventually extended to all places of worship; if you were on the run from greedy, grasping, iniquitous hands, you would find sanctuary in a place of worship. Nowadays, though, very few see places of worship as sanctuaries, or safe havens. They have become militarised, just as we have militarised every open public space in this country in the name of internal security. We used to take it for granted that even with the extremely uncouth behaviour of matatu crews, we would arrive at our destinations a little careworn but safe nonetheless. Rising cases of public transport bombings, as well as the occasional Gor Mahia anti-PSV rampage, mean that it is on a wing and a prayer that we board public service vehicles. It is common today to witness black-clad men (and women) of the cloth demanding that more police be hired, more police be deployed on the streets and in the valleys of death, and evil-doers be hunted down and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law; the Church has become an enthusiastic cheerleader of the more-police-more-security line of thought. This is sad.

Form has replaced substance. Even a casual examination of the Traffic Act as amended recently demonstrates that Kenyans have given upon substantive reforms—we no longer wish to reform our behaviour; we would rather depend on a draconian enforcement of laws we have no wish to obey to "keep us safe". It is becoming increasingly apparent that we have made a fetish of the form of our interpersonal relationships and turned it into an abstract thing our relationship with our government. The Law is an abstract concept; its obedience is an abstract act; its enforcement does not apply to us—it applies to everyone else.

When Kenyan police were murdered in Baragoi in the Suguta valley, our outrage was not that police were murdered in cold blood; our outrage was that the police who were murdered were "inexperienced". We have blithely stood by as social and family ties have withered and died in an environment of ever greater permissiveness and an increasing tolerance for violence, whether physical, verbal or psychological. Violence has began to characterise the discourse in the church too; what else explains the panel of men of the cloth demanding the deployment of ever greater numbers of "experienced" police to deal with the violence unleashed on the peoples of Kenya in this election cycle? When children are increasingly educated with the language of violence (in Sunday schools across the nation, children are exhorted to be "soldiers of Christ") and when politicians and other opinion-makers and leaders use violent imagery to define their opponents, it is too much to expect that a people primed for violence will not resort to violence to resolve heir differences. The cattle-rustlers of the Suguta valley apparently condone a tit-for-tat cycle that sees one ethnic community's rustlers raid another community's "territory" in the full knowledge that retaliation will take place regardless of what the Executive branch does or demands. Minister Katoo Ole Metito has responded as his ministry is wont to respond—by deploying more police in the area and by engaging in a "disarmament exercise". The minister must surely know that his efforts are wasted; in a month's time, perhaps longer, the retaliation will surely take place and we will be wringing our hands in despair and asking "Why?"

We must moan the removal of the rose-tinted glasses through which we viewed the Church. It is now one amongst a growing list of discredited social institutions that we once had faith in. Together with the total collapse of the village, the institution of high learning (aka the University) and the the State, Kenyans are left to fend for themselves and themselves alone. We only care about individual or nuclear family needs, sometimes not even the latter. The promises of the likes of Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are filtered through the prism of individual need and greed; we will line up behind them not because they are our ethnic champions, but because they are the surest guarantee that we will amass great wealth by crooked means. The moderating voice of the church leadership or the village elders or the university intellectuals has been stilled for the longest of times; their stillness promises that in 2013 we can only pray that some idiot wins outright.

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...