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.

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