Friday, October 31, 2014

The are all political, Mr Gathara

If the civil society industry wants to prevail against Moses Kuria and his Jubilee band of raiders, they must go beyond listening to the whingeing by Patrick Gathara, Harun Ndubi and their friends in the trenches. One step in this direction will be to recognise that the Government of Kenya is not staffed by idiots. Moses Kuria may come across as the latest member of the Jubilee lunatic fringe, but seen in context, the Jubilee juggernaut has not stopped rolling since the day secret talks opened between Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto in the ignominious days of the Gang of Seven. All that have attempted to put paid to the UhuRuto plans have come to grief. Payback, they say in the United States, is a female dog.

The Government of Kenya is adept at adjusting to shifting sands. It's basic perfidious, corrupt, autocratic heart has not changed since the days of the Legislative Council. It may have a different cast of characters, but at its core, the GoK has remained surprisingly the same. One of its adaptive techniques has been to co-opt potential competitors - or destroy them. Civil society for the longest time has been a "partner" in development; what it never realised is that it was co-opted by the dark heart of the GoK, adopting its language, its systems, its style. Look at the rife corruption regarding funds and finances and the only difference between civil society and GoK is that the former doesn't seem to have a dress code.

What Mwai Kibaki did was to formalise an already insidiously incestuous relationship between civil society and the GoK. The results have been plain to see. If this were the peculiar Kenyan version of George Orwell's Animal Farm, the metamorphosis of civil society into the dark heart of GoK would be astounding. It did not matter that the co-opted belonged to "political" civil society organisations or non-political ones; they all lost their heads when they were appointed as Ministers, Assistant Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, heads of parastatals, heads of commissions of inquiry, heads of task forces...the list is rather long.

I think it is time civil society did the unthinkable and cut all incestuous ties with the GoK and truly went out on its own. This means all those dodgy lawyers from the LSK sitting on boards of parastatals, or serving on task forces and commissions, quitting and letting the LSK truly hold the GoK's feet to the fire over all maters related to the Constitution, the law and governance. You cannot purport to speak truth to power if your truth is being shaped by the power your are in bed with doing God knows what. If any civil society whinger is getting money from the GoK, it is time they sent back the change with a polite note saying that the time has come for a civil society organisation to let the nation come first.

The distinction between political and non-political public benefit organisations (PBOs) is specious; they are all political PBOs when they perform functions that should be performed by the government. If a PBO is immunising children in West Pokot against polio, that is a political act because it is the job of the GoK to kick polio in its teeth. If a PBO is building classrooms in Wajir, that is a political act because it is the job of the government to build, and staff, schools. A PBO digging boreholes in Turkana is as much a political PBO as the one that is demanding the release of "political" prisoners. It is time Gathara & Co upped their game and quit flower-girling Moses Kuria and his odious colleagues to ever greater power. If they are not careful, when Moses Kuria and Jubilee attain ultimate, popular total power in Parliament and in the national Executive, it will be a short hop, step and jump before assassinations are back in vogue, presidencies-for-life are a fact of life, and testicular fortitudes are tested in the reopened dungeons of Nyayo House.

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