THE THIRD PERSUASION: JUST NOT JUBILEE OR CORD

“These two formations though, are morphing into entities that will pose the greatest challenge to Kenya; Jubilee; a ruthless machinery, keen on preserving its hold onto power, but dangerously unconscious to the need of nationhood; CORD, a scheme of frustrated ambition able to give a shot at their dreams at any expense”

With the high court ruling that only three political parties will benefit from the 205 Million Political Parties Kitty, smaller parties must be wondering how they will survive. Indeed, some have already started moving from expensive offices in the leafy suburbs of Nairobi to way humbler locations. With funds obtained from party nominations exhausted, pilfered or mismanaged, a familiar circle of party deaths is coming full circle. Such has been the predictability of our politics, a certain gifting of each electoral cycle.
The elections of 2013 managed to realize another goal though, a resurgence of the Oginga-Kenyatta rift that seems to defy each political cycle. These two cleavages have then gone forth to cement cliques around themselves and Jubilee and Cord were born. Each drawing their depth from shared distrust, and fueled by a burning pursuit of political power.
Any political contest is founded on a desire for power. A people centered political contest will add a hope; that with power one can influence a society to better ends, to that desire. Jubilee and Cord are formations that have shown that they ascribe to the former, a raw pursuit of political power with the real issues affecting people playing an impressively peripheral role.
As I write this, I have just concluded reading the National Development Party (NDP) 1997 manifesto. NDP then was a Tinga affair, and I must admit I am impressed. That manifesto, unlike anything glossy today had a real touch of what truly affected people. And indeed, many items it bore today have been anchored in the constitution. In comparison, ODM as a party is miles away in thought to be close to what NDP espoused. How time can kill real leadership.
Raila’s inability however to hold onto the spark that once characterized him is not a surprise. The man has criticized and dined with the system. He has sought it, grasped it before it was snatched away. He has been in the system, betrayed it, and destroyed it, before he was again ejected out. This mix would create a natural confusion I must admit.
But with this confusion, as the chief protagonist, his brigade finds itself frustrated by an evasive quest for power that they have started following the very paths they castigated. Indeed, if there is a fear I nurture today, is the impatience of Kenya’s opposition. Their acts, strategies and initiatives point to a nearing of desperation. Probably, an acceptance that belief in the idealism is not paying off, and that perhaps it is time for raw politics; value-less, just politicking.
So Kenya is at interesting times; a government that is struggling to find the heart of its people; consumed by raw pursuit of individual advancement, and an opposition that is impressively blank, unable to offer any credible alternative.
Yet, we have been lumped into these two formations politically. Our taxes only recognize them, as the sole representatives and bearers of the Kenyan dream.
It would be hypocritical to paint a picture that nothing is working. I mean we have seen quite some progress. Recently, we reviewed our data and pushed ourselves into lower middle level income nations; beautiful statistics. Even though it has no correlation with my daily bread, it attracts a certain pride to be told we are among ‘top-ten’ economies in Africa. This ‘top-ten’ business was such an issue in my primary school days. We at least have very high literacy levels, a president who takes selfies, so yes, a few things are working.
Both the current and past regimes have invested in real pieces of development. The road network is set to be upgraded and funds set aside for the youth. Whether the fanfare around this translates to real results is another question; likely, in my opinion to be answered in the negative.
But a country’s leadership must always know the season of its people. There will always emerge a single problem in the development of a country where if overcome, a trajectory of sustained growth becomes irreversible. Kenya’s at the moment is our inability to pull together as a people.
I have held an opinion that Kenya’s best moments occur when we pull together. In my own view, the independence government before rifts emerged, the initial stages of the NARC government and the grand coalition government offered real hope that Kenya would take off. Their collapse also necessarily meant a halt to the real progress towards a sustainably stable country.
A fundamental question therefore that we need to ask ourselves is whether the current two formations have the ability to rally Kenya together.
The faces leading the two formations are unable to unite us for many reasons. The fact of Kenyattaism and Odingaism is just as dividing to the opponents as is unifying to the supporters. The two graves excite love and hate in equal measure, and so whether their sons desire a united country or not, they just can’t be the vessel towards that unity.
This is not an entirely new notion. Even Biblically, even though David desired to build God a temple, the fact of him was too controversial for God to allow it.
But whether Raila or Uhuru truly wills a united Kenya is equally a fact in this. The two and their immediate brigade draw their support from their ethnic enclaves. If politics transcends ethnicity in Kenya, the very existence of the two dynasties becomes threatened. And so, it is in their interest to have a nation polarized, and that informs the political rhetoric that has characterized the two fronts.
Admittedly, CORD and Jubilee have several people who will be willing to commit to national unity. But the shadows of the dynasties will always overshadow any of this initiative.
These two formations though, are morphing into entities that will pose the greatest challenge to Kenya; Jubilee; a ruthless machinery, keen on preserving its hold onto power, but dangerously unconscious to the need of nationhood; CORD, a scheme of frustrated ambition able to give a shot at their dreams at any expense. And sadly, all of them are recruiting youthful vigor into the callousness and desperation they are.
A normal Kenyan, who would like to belong, and have their struggles and prosperity found in a stable nation may not find their aspirations expressed here. A Kenyan who dreams of unity, shared challenges and shared dreams will rarely see the expression of this hope in the two formations. A Kenyan, who hopes that public good can characterize the pursuit and exercise of power, knows that Jubilee and Cord does not represent their hope.
So certainly, there must be a third persuasion. There must be a politics that truly deserves the honor of our taxes. There must be a leader not tarnished by the baggage of yesterday, or so deep a prisoner of interest who can inspire us to nationhood.
When Uhuru Kenyatta became president, I thought his stature would have overcome the confines of the system. History has a few examples of leaders who are nurtured by the system, but ended up disobeying them to the good of the people. Beyond the charm Uhuru has brought to the presidency, is certainly still chained to unfortunate interests.
Further, the interest that jubilee is rekindling in the presidency, casting it as central to everything revives the very ghosts that Kenya hoped to run away from by decentralizing power. Why, the presidency would re-emerge in this new dispensation as a powerful player to everything points to two things. A mindset that is deeply rooted in the past unable to transition to Kenya’s aspired spirit and secondly a deliberate dismissal of the intentions of the drafters of Kenya’s new order.
And while the opposition should have taken this chance and demonstrated what true belief in institutionalized reforms would look like, it has started a new clamor for change of system of government; a politically expedient quest. Merit notwithstanding, no society can afford the luxury of such frequent transitions.
And so Kenya is yet again with a politics that is not in sync with her aspirations. And I as a young Kenyan fail again to see a leadership that expresses my aspirations. I think it is time to for a Third Persuasion.

WHO IS THE LESSER EVIL BETWEEN UHURU AND RAILA?

Raila Amolo Odinga - World Economic Forum Annu...

Raila Odinga

Uhuru seems to have a propensity to disregard systems. We can draw contrast using the very scenarios highlighted above. When Raila opposed the unilateral appointments that were a disregard of the law, Kenyatta banged the table insisting the process was credible.”

The tragedy of democracy is that the tyranny of numbers most often overwhelms sense, yet, democracy’s nobility as a means of expression of self determination remains unmatched. It provides us with a unique opportunity, an opportunity to exercise choice, or apparent exercise of choice, and with its deficiencies, I would never opt for its alternative.

When you walk into an election booth, on 3rd April, and perhaps later on, I would urge you of one thing, vote for yourself, which is what I will be doing. I am unable to summon enthusiasm, sufficient enough to walk into the election and vote a President. But I can always vote for myself, and cast a ballot for whosoever I choose, not because I choose them, but because I remotely hope that they can espouse my hopes in the ultimate, however tiny.

The reality of our nation is that the next five years will be extensively strenuous. We are faced, with a novelty of governance structures, an ambitious reform agenda that targets to redress the steps we messed and more importantly, the vision, to which we have pledged the loyalty of our effort, Vision 2030.

We need a person, therefore in president, who can assure us that they will nurture the values we aspire to realize as a nation, mediate the failures of our past and reconcile the present with the dreams of tomorrow. In short, the next five years will be a transition, burdened by the uncertainty of newness, and we can create a firm foundation for tomorrow or drop the gains time has given us. The next five years, have no opportunity of stagnation, we will either succeed or fail as a nation.

These must be the central question as we determine who to elect as our next leader. My readers will appreciate, that I have variously disapproved of the two leading contenders in the Kenyan presidential race. Yet, today I concede with reluctance that I will cast my ballot for one of them. Has my own choice been whacked into submission by the noise of masses, I doubt that, or rather, I choose to state that I accord my choice to our reality. A reality that betrays the hopes we hold, yet we hope that from that despair, a spring of certainty may arise.

The two leading candidate are Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta. I realize they have unique similarities, including the fact that all their middle names are not on their national identity cards. One is a son of the founding President and the other the son of the founding vice president. God, rest the souls of the two old men, they certainly gave us two graves to which we have been beholden as a nation and we continue to, and God liberate us.

What has been my consistent view on the two, On Raila, I believe he has a deficiency in his organizational capacity, in the last five years, the office of the prime minister has offered this country glimpses of epic inefficiency and sometimes mismanagement. In my opinion, it functioned as a disjointed unit, perhaps riddled with excitement than purpose. Read more

Elite Failure: Kenya’s Hopes Interred by Her Privileged

 

he knows that the media will irresponsibly lump the whole blame on the entire parliament. He knows that he can bribe his name out of a newspaper story. He knows that even if the newspaper wrote that he is the one who introduced the amendment, those who understand the risk it posses to democracy will leave offices in the evening, swipe their credit cards in supermarkets and rest on couches in the evening relishing the fact that they are about to get a masters degree. It is Kenya’s elite who kill their own aspirations”

NARC’S ascending to power in Kenya in 2002 signaled the end of the Moi era but created a stagnation of civil progress. While both the Ibrahim Mo and World Bank indices have showed that Kenya has shown improvement in governance, other social indicators of societal progress like the elite unity heavily lack in the fabric.

In a discussion with the CEO National Convention Executive Council, Cyprian Nyamwamu, a very peculiar truth came forth. The anti-Moi struggles prior to 2002 were just that, a country united against a person. In his words, Cyprian says, there was a duet of principles: For Kenya and For Moi.

I would therefore imagine that in 2002 the country united in voting Moi out. And as it would be, the rage attracted a considerable collateral damage. Those who remained intimate with Moi were swept, but never into oblivion. They sneaked back into political prominence because essentially, the country never thought of them as inherently bad people, they were thought merely as betraying the tide.

The 2002 scenario allows us knowledge of several crucial aspects; the first being the missing of long term commitment to good governance in Kenya. The most pertinent question we need to ask ourselves as a country is; were the struggles culminating to the KANU overhaul in 2002 genuine or fueled by self interest within the Kenyan elite?

To answer this, we need to admit the confusion that the 2002 overhaul created in Kenya. Just before 2002 happened, I previously alluded to the fact that Kenya was divided along those for the regime, and those for the country. The latter brought together the entire middle class. It merged opposition politics with the civil society creating total non distinction between the two.

In the struggle against Moi, we had a lawyer who was struggling to have ends meet, a teacher with a poor pay, a doctor with no facilities at work and a relevant donor who took pride in funding the civil society to raffle the government.

The donor community never believed in the possibility of a Mwai Kibaki presidency. The political calculations then heavily pointed to an Uhuru Kenyatta presidency. To reduce foreign influence in the 2002 election, Moi lead the donor community into believing that his usual tact would carry the day. Moi thought that the greatest risk to KANU’S continued hold and by extension his hold onto power through proxies would be threatened by unity of all the ambition then existent in KANU. KANU then had Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, George Saitoti and Musalia Mudavadi all believing that they were entitled to the presidency. In this ambition, Moi saw a way of retaining power.

He created internal dissent within the party by anointing Uhuru Kenyatta. In his calculations, a move that the donor community believed it would work, Moi anticipated a revolt. He hoped that all the ambitious within KANU would go separate ways hence a multiplicity of candidacies within the opposition and a divided vote. Then, one only needed a simple majority to be president.

It almost happened so. But strangely, the revolting Turks united under LDP and later with the NAK opposition and handed his regime a defeat. This defeat saw active pro-democracy activists join the government.

This created a confusing scene; an abrupt realization of the elite’s goal. Moi had become one thing around which the country was spinning. Moi embodied all the evil that Kenya wanted to rid itself. Subsequently he ceased being the just the face of politics, but a uniting factor philosophy. The disapproval people had of Moi started determining the social evolutions in the country.

Just like a partnership winding after completion of purpose, the Kenyan elite wound their union and receded into personal development. A lawyer left the street and went to the bar, an optimistic teacher went back to class and a private business person started investing again. While the whole country could join hands in blaming government for a pothole on Mai Mahiu-Narok Road, after 2002 that became a problem of the users of that road.

The fusion of social activism and state also created another confusion; while in the Moi era, when one talked about recognition of the Mau Mau, they could be seen as a burden to the state, the NARC era brought scenarios where civil society groups would meet with the Mau Mau delegations in the Minister of Justice’s boardroom. The NARC government moved in to create commissions and refurbish government departments empowering them to undertake crucial activities. Most of these activities had previously been undertaken by the civil society.

The empowering of Anti graft agencies for instance stole the spark from the civil society. But while the civil society had been genuine in its fight against corruption, the government backed agencies became masks. They used technicalities to excuse graft. On the other hand, the civil society was disintegrating. A part from the ugly fact that they could not attack an agency that they had lobbied for, the intertwining of politics and civil movements robbed the civil society unity.

With people hanging on individual strands, the country receded into a crude association. While in the Moi Era people united because of bad governance, the post Moi era created a vacuum of association and ethnicity stepped in. The NARC government created expectations which it foiled at the start. People anticipated opportunities which were never created. While they were united in the anticipation, they could only but separate in disappointment. The society then became cautious of regions, tribes and this fermented in part spilling out in 2007 into horrendous violence.

This probably allows us to regard a few factors; there ought to be a delicate balance between the civil society and the political interests. The political elite here mean the government and opposition inclusive. Whenever there is a blossoming intimacy between any faction of the political elite and the civil society, we ought to revise our priorities, since then, that would be sectarian and momentary interests that may not withstand a test of time. The society needs to continually set standards that are slightly higher than the delivery ability of the political class.

The civil society needs unite in bits with the political class but sustain a cautious friction that allows continuous pressure for performance. This is unachievable if there are cracks within those who do not compete directly for influence. The inability of Kenya’s privileged, those who have a chance of knowing unity beyond kinship or regional, those who know another commitments beyond immediate ethnic ties, their inability to unite positively is the reason for stagnation in the civil progress.

Politicians take risks which they know their electorate would either agree with or fail to understand. When a Member of Parliament introduces an amendment to allow for party hoping, he knows that the media will irresponsibly lump the whole blame on the entire parliament. He knows that he can bribe his name out of a newspaper story. He knows that even if the newspaper wrote that he is the one who introduced the amendment, those who understand the risk it posses to democracy will leave offices in the evening, swipe their credit cards in supermarkets and rest on couches in the evening relishing the fact that they are about get a masters degree. It is Kenya’s elite who kill their country’s aspirations.

The sudden expansion of space by the NARC government institutionalized stagnation. It exposed our Achilles’ heels in personalizing our struggles as opposed to having a pursuit based on a defined philosophy. We see enemies in people, not in betrayal of our strict aspirations of a pure governance system.

It would take a restructure of the Kenyan elite to renew a true pursuit of untainted governance in wholesomeness. It would take a creation of a philosophy. Beyond the flair of civic education on responsible voting, beyond the personalization of who should be president, beyond a look at the track records of our intended leaders, we need the privileged to have a commitment that transcends the moment.

In the restructure, the elite needs to know sensationalism and press conferencing will not influence policy. The fading civil society speaks of a detachment between the elite and the masses. This is what legitimizes political imprudence. Whenever you allow the political class to engage directly with the hearts of the masses without a credible check from those who ought to be the conscience of the society then you allow an imperial democracy.

We should not let the pursuit of the privileged to be insensitive to the collective good of the society, as in this there shall lay a legitimacy of demeaning privilege, devaluing education and allowing for political impropriety. Our inaction, has failed the country.

In a recent comment, the Director Vision 2030 wondered why Kenyans were dying on Thika Super Highway. He commented: when you have a first class facilities, and a third class mentality the sum total is third class. What Mugo Kibati might never have known is that when a citizen is third class, he is rightfully so, and when you place a first class facility in their midst, you are obliged to occasion an understanding of the first class and its nuances. It is we, those who understand that traffic jams result into huge monetary losses that are to blame for the deaths of those who fail to understand why they should use a longer footbridge, yet they can jump over the rails.