Monday, May 06, 2013

How will they govern?

The President's nominees reveal very little about how he will govern, save perhaps to emphasise that there will be a fresh way of doing things. However, his retention of Francis Kimemia, and the nomination of Charity Ngilu, in the powerful lands docket, and Najib Balala, places the nomination process in jeopardy. Mr Kimemia is the bug-bear of the Opposition; his interference in the process of devolution, as alleged by his detractors, is a key reason why his confirmation by Parliament may prove rocky. Mrs Ngilu and Mr Balala both come to the process with baggage of their own, though Mr Balala's record of performance may stand him in good stead with Parliament. Mrs Ngilu continues to face questions regarding her stint as the water minister in Mwai Kibaki's government.

It is in the nomination of former Law Society chairman, Rachael Omamo, and Amb Amina Mohammed that Mr Kenyatta takes a stride beyond where even Presidents Moi and Kibaki would not, or could not, tread. Ms Omamo's time as the head of the lawyers' association is remembered for the histrionics in the Council. Amina Mohammed secures the nomnation after missing by a whisker the post of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation. By all accounts, those who have worked with her in the Minister of Justice and the United Nations are impressed by her intellect and work ethic. The two, for want of a better word, class up the Cabinet like nothing else ever will.

But the question remains, how will Mr Kenyatta govern? He and William Ruto, have made campaign promises that they may struggle to keep. By nominating Mrs Ngilu and Mr Balala, they have signalled to Parliament that they will not run a government without ensuring that it is politically cohesive. That the two are not from either TNA or URP speaks to the bridges they wish to build with the Jubilee parliamentary party, ensuring that the Jubilee agenda is not held hostage to the whims and demands of parliamentarians.

Mr Kenyatta may actually govern like a technocrat; much, much different from the Kibaki era or the Moi era. In the latter, the focus of the president, especially after the 1992 multi-party elections was to keep the government politically safe from the vagaries of the political arena. With Mwai Kibaki, it seems, the focus was to reward The Boys while at the same time making way for the resurgence of the GEMA in the corridors of power. The behaviour of some of his foot-soldiers, most notably Kiraitu Murungi, seemed to confirm this. The Anglo-Leasing and Triton scandals were merely the most visible representations on this reality.

Messrs Kenyatta and Ruto have done their best to put a different spin to their Cabinet nominations, but a clear-eyed assessment points to the fact that political survival is very much on their minds. No one will quibble with the fact that on paper the nominees are more than adequately qualified. But the dominance of the Cabinet with men and women from their political strongholds betrays the fact that politics comes first and competent management of the affairs of the State plays second fiddle. Given the incredible discipline that they have demonstrated over the past few months over their troops, especially in getting the likes of Aden Duale, Ekwe Ethuro, Justin Muturi and other die-hard Jubilee MPs to play ball, the two are going to keep a very firm grip on the Cabinet. There will be none of the free hand that Kibaki famously gave his Ministers; these nominees will do as they are told or face the steel toe. Slowly, the two are recreating the firm style of the Moi years. Whether they succeed, and their government succeeds, only history will tell.

No comments: