TO DIALOGUE OR NOT

These Folks seem to talk sometimes

These Folks seem to talk sometimes

To the President- Your Usalama Advert may have intended to reassure me- But Mpeketoni Happened sir. May be after all, these thugs do not run to hide, they do not fear the promise of Camera’s. May be we need to do more. So I just don’t know what I will think of you when I see that ad today evening.

On July 24th last year, I wrote a piece noting that Uhuru’s presidency would be secure and admired if he chose either of two paths; Bipartisanship or wholehearted support for Devolution.

In my view then, this was an easy way of ensuring that the script of ethnic exclusion does not come to be a factor in Kenyan politics. I noted then, that by reaching out to opposition, Uhuru would not be in anyway undermining his presidency; he would be providing the much needed leadership.

Well, none of the paths were considered. And here we are, a year later, that script that I feared has become a novel, with each paragraph spelling doom to an Uhuru Presidency. In my opinion though, there is a bigger fear we have to embrace as a Country- This is just but another dot in the continuing series of missed opportunities to create a Nation Kenya.

At the centre of this quest for National Dialogue, is the fact that increasingly it’s being seen that public appointments are shared between two political outfits or even two communities. Of course ethnicity is a deep factor in Kenya, and we can only deny that if we are being hypocritical. Even the opposition itself cannot claim to be clean when this matter will be placed on the table, if it ever.

I had a conversation with a Jubilee MP over the weekend, and he contends, and perhaps rightly so, that this is but a story being created by CORD. That TNA and URP are national parties and therefore appointments by those entities do not necessarily mean they are entirely Kikuyu and Kalenjin.

This may be true, but is it important, certainly not.

In the very first place, where in law or who legitimized government positions to be properties of the political parties that form a government? I thought the Kenyan Constitution envisions a Public Service that is apolitical, committed to serving every Kenyan, and capable of employing any Kenyan irrespective of my political affiliation.

So well, URP may nominate a Luo, what about a competent Luo who subscribes to no political party.

The failure of this government to delink public service from our deeply ethnicized politics will continue to be a fodder for negative ethnicity. If there is a valid agenda that needs to be pursued if we ever get to Dialogue, or even in our monologues, is this.

The talk of 50-50 between URP and TNA needs to extend to positions of leadership within the political structure; restricted to Speakers of National Assemblies and Leaders of Majorities and whips ejusdem generis.

This could appear naïve. Maybe it’s a given fact that the President of the day has to control key appointments, but the foundations of our public service as visualized in the constitution are keen delinking politics from it.

States are founded on the realities they face, ours is one which is deeply conscious about ethnicity and that we draw our political support from our ethnic bases. As long as this linkage of ethnicity to politics continues, the only way out of avoiding perceptions of exclusion is delinking the public service from this 50-50 notion.

I am persuaded to actually believe that if political parties extend their negotiations of power sharing to public service jobs, that are illegal, a usurpation of the constitution and an outright illegality.
Either way, we cannot now run away from the reality that perception of ethnic exclusion is here and that it is a perfect ingredient in the opposition agenda.

First and foremost, we cannot demonize CORD for talking about negative ethnicity, unless it’s their creation and a distortion of the facts. The reality seems to suggest otherwise, and as such, we may as a country need to sift through the noises and establish whether a section of Kenyans have a reason to be discontent.

Can this sifting be undertaken in parliament, certainly not. Our National assembly is an embodiment of partisan politics; a house of partisan interests at the expense of sense in most cases. Even very genuine discussions, as long as they will hurt their master’s interests, cannot be objectively discussed. Taking this discussion to Parliament is imagining that only politicians need to take part in it, or only political parties with representation in parliament have a say.

On this front, I believe in CORD’s call for a joint committee that will establish the agenda.

I do not understand why Jubilee would oppose this. If the only reasons are ego issues, that it’s a directive coming from the opposition and they are the government, they have lost it. Whether, CORD shouts a proposal or sends it as pdf to the Presidents’ personal email, it does not change the fact that Uhuru Kenyatta is the President.

In any case, what is more important, declining the proposal just because one is president, or being humble enough and creating a country?

In fact, if there something deeply worrying already, is the fact of having too many centres of power in this government; a President cannot tell the nation, we can talk to each other, and then be arm twisted by his lieutenants to rescind it a day later. That is what a President should not do.

The Presidency is a symbol of national unity. It has to exceed being Jubilee or CORD, it always has to struggle to provide the ultimate direction and avoid appearing that second thoughts are but its nature. This suggests indecisiveness.

I was surprised to learn that the government decided not to go on with a National Dialogue Conference because it has been politicized. Why would they not use that chance to secure the participation of the opposition and any other interested parties.

Uhuru’s handlers must know they are handling a President of 40 Million Kenyans. Some voted for him, some voted for the other candidates. They cannot continue to with miniature struggles of who is the boss, Uhuru is the boss, he has a nation to build now. And in this quest, he must listen to every story. They have to know that leading any political institution like a state needs a mix of humility and firmness in equal measure.

I must tell CORD and any other willing Kenyan to continue pushing for the Nation to come together and ask itself the hard questions.

But as we do this, we must always put in my mind that no single politician can speak for the whole country. It would be best and in everyone’s interest to get into this process without bruising ourselves. After all, if CORD’s quest is to salvage the country, then they have to always be aware that they cannot destroy that country in the first place.
Saba Saba needs not to happen. We all agree we need to talk, I hope all of us can be prudent enough to avoid excessive polarization, because we can avoid it.

And well, is Uhuru Raila’s President. I feel that the obligation to avoid polarization more lies with the Presidency than the opposition.

And for anyone who has been in Kenyan politics, they should know that demonizing Raila never works; or even shouting back when he speaks.

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To the President- Your Usalama Advert may have intended to reassure me- But Mpeketoni Happened sir. May be after all, these thugs do not run to hide, they do not fear the promise of Camera’s. May be we need to do more. So I just don’t know what I will think of you when I see that ad today evening.