Friday, 27 October 2017

The Resistance Movement must Birth the Third Liberation

The flag of the Republic of Kenya.
Image: Courtesy
Regarded as an enigma in Kenya’s politics, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s contribution to the political and economic liberation of the country cannot be understated.

Loved and loathed by many, and whose brand of politics cultivates the Raila mania frenzy and elicits the passionate hatred that is Raila phobia, the scion of Kenya’s first Vice President was instrumental in birthing the Republic’s Second Liberation.

The hallmarks of the Second Liberation were the re-introduction of multi-party politics in 1991, after the landmark repealing of the famous Section 2A, and the promulgation of the current progressive constitutional dispensation 19 years later in 2010.

Unfortunately, the full implementation of the Republic’s progressive Constitution has been hijacked by political forces nursing the Moi-era hangovers and keen on promoting the status quo.

In his quest to ascend to the presidency, Mr. Odinga’s political journey has been episodic.

These episodes range from his own political mistakes, rigged presidential elections, re-uniting with erstwhile political nemeses and making unexpected political declarations like the historical “Kibaki Tosha” not forgetting the detentions he was subjected to by Kenya’s second president, Daniel Arap Moi, a corrupt oligarch.

Having fervently championed for the realization of the Kenyan Dream through various political vehicles from the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD) to the National Super Alliance (NASA), Mr. Odinga’s political career takes a homestretch but the 72 year old firebrand politician seems not to be giving up on his dream for a better Kenya.

This follows his latest political move to transform the NASA coalition into a ‘National Resistance Movement’.

Kenya’s Liberations
The tenets that informed the struggle for the First and Second Liberation were solely anchored on the need for political and economic emancipation of the oppressed Kenyans.

With the first struggle being the fight for the Republic’s independence, it was envisaged that the life for the common man – the average Kenyan; the hoi polloi – would reflect the political and economic liberation that was granted by the British imperialists 54 years ago in 1963.

After independence, however, it quickly turned out that Jomo Kenyatta’s administration was in fact a disgraced institutional set up, a colonial relic for that matter, whose mission was the promotion of crony capitalism through corruption and illegal acquisition of public resources.

Ever wondered why Jomo Kenyatta became wealthy and other heroes of the First Liberation such as Bildad Kaggia, General Baimunge among others died while struggling to unchain themselves from the manacles of poverty? Jomo Kenyatta and his cronies were the enemies within.

Initiatives and activities intended to spur economic growth and development during Jomo Kenyatta’s era were largely based on political affiliation with the regime’s sycophants and loyalists rewarded with a number of ‘projects’.

Jomo Kenyatta’s crackdown on political dissenters such as the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, and the assassination of fiery revolutionaries such as Pio Gama Pinto and J. M. Kariuki as well as gallant politicians like Tom Mboya and Ronald Ngala was an affirmation of the existence of an imperialist under a Black man’s skin.

In a nutshell, Jomo Kenyatta’s presidency was characterized by political and economic exclusion that resulted in a few illicitly wealthy demagogues, millions of economically destitute patriots and deeply disillusioned political leaders whose aspirations for a politically and economically liberated Kenya were thwarted.

Moi’s presidency was an assortment of a political pantomime and despotism largely due to the inferiority complex and paranoia that Kenya’s longest serving president suffered from.

Arap Moi religiously followed Jomo Kenyatta’s footsteps coining the dubious philosophy dubbed as the “Nyayo Philosophy” meant to promote peace, love and unity. However, it turned out that the ideological maxim of Nyayoism actually propagated economic mismanagement and political exclusion with the old man’s paranoia concentrated on fixing the dissenting voices and amassing illicit wealth.

It was during his presidency in the 1980s and early 1990s that the struggle for the Second Liberation took shape. The Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD) – originally founded by the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Phillip Gachoka, Masinde Muliro, Martin Shikuku, George Nthenge, and Ahmed Bamahriz – exerted pressure on Moi to institute political and economic reforms.

One of the critical junctures of the Second Liberation was in 1991 when Daniel arap Moi bowed to pressure and repealed Section 2A of the Constitution that led to the re-introduction of the multi-party political system. However, 26 years later, the Republic is littered with political parties that are not founded on definite ideologies and whose lifespan is directly depended on its founder/leader.

The second critical juncture of the Second Liberation was the political obliteration of KANU in 2002 that culminated in the formation of the NARC government with Mwai Kibaki as president.

Despite reviving the country’s moribund economy, Kibaki failed to deliver a progressive constitution to Kenyans as promised, fashioned tribalism and of course allowed corruption to blossom.

This led to the 2007/08 post-election violence in which the presidential election was rigged in favor of Mr. Kibaki. This event was the third crunch time after the dawn of the Second Liberation whose eventuality was the formation of the Grand Coalition government with Kibaki as president and Raila Odinga as Prime Minister.

An outstanding achievement of the Kibaki and Raila led coalition government was the promulgation of the current Constitution in 2010. The Republic’s Constitution is wholly progressive but its key component is devolution, a politico-economic concept advocated for by Mr. Odinga.

A politically progressive doctrine that was to be included in our national Constitution but was quashed by Mwai Kibaki’s camp and William Ruto during the constitution making process is the Parliamentary system of government.

Such a system would be ideal for the Republic in view of the tribal political formations that compete for the presidency in the case of the current Presidential system.

Four and a half years under the Jubilee administration, corruption has been rife with no tangible effort made to tackle this vice despite the existence of a number of governance institutions as stipulated by the Constitution.

Under the presidency of Uhuru Kenyatta there have been several attempts to drag the country to the dark days of Moi and Jomo Kenyatta. His administration has effectively put into use large doses of propaganda (the PR we’ve witnessed) that is confusingly and annoyingly packaged as “development record”. This effective use of propaganda mimics the classical Communist propaganda.

But it isn’t a surprise since the Jubilee Party has been closely benchmarking with the Chinese Communist Party. This is the genesis of the propaganda lately escalated by the involvement of international PR firm, Cambridge Analytica.

Jubilee Party’s propaganda bears semblance with similar “PR” schemes engineered by Daniel Moi who even went to an extent of publishing the Kenya Times newspaper to religiously brainwash the citizens with political garbage.

Fast forward, following the flawed repeat presidential election presided over by the broken and rotten Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the country remains deeply divided with nearly half of the electorate disillusioned by the electoral body.

It is a stinking shame to have the ignominious IEBC with its crooked commissioners presiding over an election even after the chairman, Wafula Chebukati, laid bare the intrigues and machinations within the commission.

With electoral malpractice and political hubris having transformed the NASA coalition into a ‘National Resistance Movement’, the country awaits with bated breath to see ‘what next’. This is certainly the political zero hour to birth the Republic’s Third Liberation.

The Third Liberation
Since the ‘Uhuru Park Declaration’ whose prime highlight was the formation of the ‘National Resistance Movement’, Jubilee propagandists have framed the movement as a “rebel movement” keen on pursuing its political agenda by instigating violence. This is absolutely a warped view and a figment of imaginations of the hell-bent Jubilee Party surrogates.

Apart from Raila Odinga pursuing his own political interests, it is true to state that the Republic urgently needs social, political and economic reforms in line with the national Constitution and through a referendum.

There is need for the broken healthcare system to be fixed. The argument that county governments are responsible for healthcare is fundamentally flawed and utter nonsense.

As long as we don’t have a responsible national government keen on instituting a healthcare system for all, even the devolution of health services will fail fantastically.

By the way, Rwanda is on course to fully implementing the universal healthcare system while East Africa’s ‘most progressive’ state is grappling with endless strikes by health workers. The Republic’s third estate is subjected to poor health incommensurate with the taxes they pay to the national government.

In addition, the Third Liberation must institutionalize the Parliamentary system of government which effectively works with Kenya’s national political architecture that is purely based on shuffling the tribal cards.

The Third Liberation should be a movement out to liberate the country from the yoke of corruption both at the national government and the 47 county governments. Why should we have people running governments yet they allow corruption to flourish under their watch?

This is sanctioning cronyism and theft of public resources, a clear violation of the social contract that binds the relation between the governor and the governed. Kenyans must certainly be angry enough about corruption.

Corruption’s twin problem, that is the existence of the ‘permanent government’ often referred to as the cartels must be annihilated with the Third Liberation. The crony culture propagated by the cartels must be zealously fought if the Republic is to progress socially, economically and politically.

Furthermore, the Third Liberation must bring to an end the culture of defective electoral processes and systems that perpetuate political exclusion. The electoral body’s affairs must be managed by morally upright Kenyans.

Just like the IEBC, all public institutions have a chronic deficiency of people with unrivalled integrity which is a malady that must be rectified by the Third Liberation. This will be made possible by religiously sticking to the provisions of Chapter 6 of the Republic’s Constitution on Leadership and Integrity.

But who will make the Third Liberation a reality? Will it be the politicians or the people’s power?

Politicians or the People’s Power?
With the ‘National Resistance Movement’ being the brainchild of Raila Odinga, he is expected to naturally provide leadership to the cause of this political movement.

Of keen interest, however, is whether his co-principals – Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula – will fully embrace Odinga’s latest political strategy. The three senior politicians never fought for the Second Liberation and hence are ‘strangers’ with the former Premier’s revolutionary ideologies.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula were dining with the corrupt despot, Daniel Moi. Wetang’ula’s flirtation with the oligarch came after he represented some of the orchestrators of the failed 1982 coup in court.

Even as I highly doubt the commitment of the three to lead the way to the Third Liberation, all the forward-thinking Kenyans must come forth and seize the moment to liberate the Republic through non-violence means.

Peaceful revolutionary messages cannot be effective if at all there is no critical mass. I come across majority of the common folks lamenting about poor governance and all the malfeasance rampant in the national government and the county governments but who end up voting along tribal lines or whose ballot decision is artificially wrecked.

Fermentation of the Third Liberation calls for a new generation of leaders. Perhaps more youthful leaders need to take a pivotal role by clearly pointing out the socio-political and economic ills and endlessly agitate for transformation of the Republic.

Disappointments, however, are bound to occur since a significant number of Kenyan youth are ethnic fundamentalists. Informal education acquired through the primary socialization process is a breeding mechanism for highly spirited tribalists. No wonder formal learning institutions are ethnic enclaves.

All in all, talking we must at this moment but the embers of the Third Liberation should not be allowed to flicker out. The oppressed majority must seek for political and economic emancipation through peaceful means.

Viva Troisieme Liberation! Viva Mouvement des Personnes!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Kenya’s Current Political Stalemate Calls for Dialogue

Anti-IEBC demonstrations in Kisumu.
Photo: Courtesy
With the uncertainty of the October 26th repeat presidential election growing day by day, the animus between the ardent supporters of Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga also seems to be on an upward spiral. This politico-legal conundrum is a consequential effect of the unwillingness by the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Jubilee Party and the National Super Alliance (NASA) to engage in a constructive and comprehensive electoral discourse. 

The electoral body, IEBC, has shown complete lack of effective leadership in steering discussions between the two leading political camps. Apart from the cosmetic show of concern by IEBC to initiate and mediate talks between Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Odinga, the top leadership of this commission has been inconsistent in charting the way forward in regard to the processes and systems leading to the presidential election.

Hard line positions adopted by the Jubilee Party and the NASA coalition are in fact the fundamental basis of the quandary that the country faces. The amendments to the election laws by the Jubilee Party are hell-bent and only meant to trigger chaos in the country. One doesn’t really need to be a rocket scientist to take notice of the ill motives that fuel the Uhuru Kenyatta-led party in pushing for the ‘convenient’ amendments to the election laws.

Jubilee Party’s move highly qualifies as party dictatorship which was the political order during the hey days of the grand old party, KANU, as highlighted in a recent article. The Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Ken Lusaka, lack the leadership and resolve to preside over the order of business in Parliament particularly at this time. Their failure to provide effective leadership is deeply rooted in the political religiosity that they bear as dictated by their masters.

NASA’s demands, the now famous irreducible minimums, are credible and valid but can all of them be implemented at the moment? Methinks it is impossible to implement a number of the irreducible minimums but at least fundamental changes are necessary since the Supreme Court ruled that the outcome of the nullified presidential election was characterized by illegalities and irregularities.

Weak leadership by IEBC and the Speakers of Parliament to facilitate dialogue within an institutional set up has resulted in the ‘peaceful’ street demonstrations by supporters of Raila Odinga.

‘Peaceful’ Protests
Protests by a section of the supporters of Raila Odinga have been marred by incidences of violence with cases of deaths, injuries, looting and vandalism of property reported. The hallmark of these protests has been the failure to stick to the prescribed laws hence a justification of the subversion of the spirit of constitutionalism.

Take for instance the rogue police officers who have killed and maimed a number of the demonstrators and other innocent Kenyans not involved in the protests. Since the state is riddled with a high degree of complicity we are yet to see the killer police officers being brought to book.

Protesters who infringe on other people’s rights through destruction of property and looting should not be killed. In any case, the law is pretty clear on the course of action to be taken against such individuals with their prosecution guaranteed but not the kind of political persecution we are witnessing. Police brutality must be condemned and not condoned.

Mainstream media seems to be selectively cautious in reporting some of the cases of police brutality. Despite the fact that the police force is intimidating mainstream media from reporting on the inhuman acts by the police, they (media) must come to the realization that they have the right to uncover the injustices. I was expecting to see constant reporting about the act of criminality in which a vehicle rammed into innocent and peaceful protesters. The police officers are yet to arrest the driver of the vehicle. The mainstream media should not hesitate in singling out the rogue police officers.

Presence of a militia group that masquerades as ‘Nairobi Business Community’ raises elemental concerns in regard to the maintenance of law and order and the role of the police in protecting people’s lives as well as property. How did we get to a point in which a gang assumes the responsibilities of the police officers? It is either Kenyan police officers are incompetent or this gang is politically insulated or both.

In my view, the ‘Nairobi Business Community’ is a militia apparently being used by politicians to settle political scores, an affirmation of the heightened political differences and enmity between the leading political camps.  Its dreaded members are ferried in mini-buses to the capital’s central business district to strategically protect 'business interests'. This shouldn’t be the norm in a country that claims to have a progressive constitution with constitutionally mandated institutions.

The recast of the 2007/08 violence script is inevitable due to the re-birth of a police state and hard line political stances. As the scions of Odinga and Kenyatta square out for their political interests, the ghosts of a failed state and a banana republic are within vicinity.

In the event that Mr. Odinga fails to participate in the repeat presidential election and Mr. Kenyatta wins then the legitimacy of the latter’s administration will be seriously dented. Furthermore, Mr. Odinga’s withdrawal will be followed by intensified calls for self-determination (secession).

The negative perception of the governance institutions among Kenyans, depending on one’s political affiliation or way of thinking, is bound to rise. There is no doubt that the National Police Service will continue being perceived as a police force. IEBC’s ratings will also plummet as the electoral body seems to be a spineless institution rocked with suspicions among its senior officials. The Judiciary is already perceived as “enemy of the people” among the majority of Uhuru Kenyatta’s supporters. Mr. Kenyatta promised to “fix” the Judiciary after his ‘victory’ was annulled and his sentiments, as echoed by other elected representatives from the Jubilee Party, signal the institutionalization of Executive despotism.

Way Forward
Short-term and long-term politico-legal solutions will be impossible if dialogue is not embraced. With the current impasse, dialogue involving the IEBC, Mr. Odinga and Mr. Kenyatta is crucially important. The IEBC must put its house in order and deliver a free, fair and credible election.

As the possibility of pursuing the secession cause by the NASA coalition and its proxies looms, that is in case Mr. Odinga fails to contest for the election, dialogue will be the most effective way to solve the issues that drive the calls for self-determination. As I documented in a previous article, secession isn’t good for the Republic but the political and economic exclusion practiced by all the administrations since 1963 make it seem a reality and an eventuality.

For the long-term, national dialogue is critically important and the outcome of this should be the adoption of a Parliamentary system of government that would effectively address the possibilities of Executive absolutism, help to establish politically civilized political parties among other short-comings of the current presidential system.

As Winston Churchill stated that “to jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war”, we must embrace dialogue at this juncture or perish altogether. The sooner we sit on the table and engage constructively, the better for the country’s present and posterity.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Why Kenya is Courting the Path of KANU's Dark Days

A file photo of all the four Kenyan presidents.
Image: Courtesy
 “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce”. Those are the words uttered by one of the world’s outstanding intellectuals and ideologues, Karl Marx. A classical illustration of Marx’s sentiments cannot be found any further in the Western world other than in Kenya, a country that is suffocating under the yoke of corruption and negative ethnicity.

Under KANU, the Grand Old Party (GOP) of Kenya’s politics, plundering of public resources was the order of the day. In the forty years that the cockerel party graced the country’s politics, the oligarchies of Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Moi had a dubious yet exceptional distinction of not just looting and fashioning tribalism but also curtailing political and personal freedom of their real and perceived enemies.

The repetition of history as a tragedy first took place after Daniel Moi ascended to the presidency with his not-so-clever yet golden philosophy of “following in the footsteps of Jomo Kenyatta”. In following the footsteps of Kenya’s first president, a well-known tribalist and corrupt personality, Moi perfected the art of personalizing the government and the country.

He did this by gagging the political activists, dissenting politicians and even the media. Moi’s word was law a twin semblance to Jomo Kenyatta’s administration. Kibaki’s presidency never overcame the ghosts of corruption and negative ethnicity but at least overshadowed his predecessor’s through remarkable growth of the economy.

The farcical repetition of history has taken place under the administration of Uhuru Kenyatta. In the four years as president, corruption is at its apogee with the plum positions in government being mostly given to members of the Agikuyu and Kalenjin communities, the major political constituencies of the Jubilee Party.

Additionally, it is on record that there have been attempts in the last four and a half years to curtail freedom of the media among other stupid acts of intimidating members of the opposition and other dissenting voices. In fact, it is under the presidency of Uhuru Kenyatta that there has been a re-birth of the nuisance of hosting political delegations at State House and the State Lodges akin to Jomo’s and Moi’s eras.

It isn’t a surprise at all bearing in mind that the old man from Baringo and the matriarch of Kenyatta’s family, Mama Ngina Kenyatta are the key behind-the-scenes advisors to Uhuru Kenyatta. Just like the older Kenyatta and Moi, these delegations have turned out to be political orchestras of parading broke political failures seeking to gain some financial windfall and party stalwarts being energized to exercise their sycophancy with a lot of fury.

Recent Happenings
Former president Daniel Moi, after enduring a series of frustrations by the dissenting voices, publicly stated that KANU will rule the country for 100 years. Likened to a giraffe by the doyen of opposition politics, Jaramogi Ajuma Oginga Odinga in his autobiography Not Yet Uhuru, Moi had indeed seen the country’s political future. In the Jubilee Party, I see the reincarnation of KANU famed for legendary corruption with a phenomenal honor of tribalism.

Legislation of the Security Amendment Act in 2015 and the Elections Amendment Act in 2016 without incorporating the participation of legislators from the minority side, illustrate the dead set approach adopted by the Jubilee administration. As a matter of fact, the final motions in the National Assembly to adopt the afore-mentioned laws were preceded by heavy deployment of the police officers.

Selective application and the hell bent interpretation of the law are rife under the era of the Jubilee administration. It is evidentially clear that members and proxies of the opposition who are deemed to have broken the law are treated in a demeaning manner than the surrogates of the Jubilee Party. There are two instances to demonstrate this antiquated political move.

First, peaceful demonstrations by supporters of the opposition are usually marred with violence with the police officers being responsible for instigating the chaos and confusion. This was the case after the announcement of the outcome of the annulled presidential election and most recently, during the short-lived anti-IEBC demonstrations. Protests by Jubilee supporters after the historic ruling by the Supreme Court were peaceful but the police appeared to be acting on instructions from above not to interfere with the fanfare and were even tempted to join the demonstrators in castigating the highest court on the land.

Secondly, the drama surrounding the arrest of Babu Owino, a sophomoric and perhaps an eternally intoxicated politician, following his foul remarks against the president offers some insights on the selective application of the law. Though I do not support Owino’s remarks, the capture and re-capture mechanism employed to ‘teach him a lesson’ should also have been equally used to tame the filthy and incorrigible hate monger, Moses Kuria.

Why does Moses Kuria propagate hate speech yet he seems not to be worried in fact, going to an extent of bragging that the authorities can’t apprehend him? Is it because he represents President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Gatundu South constituency in the National Assembly?

In a video clip doing rounds on social media, the functionally illiterate governor of Nairobi County Mike Sonko, is heard to be uttering obscenities directed at Babu Owino with no action being taken against the former. Double standards by the authorities must fall!

Denigrating attacks against the Supreme Court and the Judiciary, as outlined in a recent article, are reminiscent of the politically warped and perilous thinking during KANU’s regime. We have outlived the era where the Judiciary was an extension of an inept Executive but we are slowly drifting towards the dark past.

A stinking shame and revelation is the party dictatorship that the Jubilee Party seems to be fantasizing with. Still fuming with the majoritarian ruling by the Supreme Court, the threats by the President’s party to check on the powers of the Judiciary seem to be taking shape. The backward and notoriously dangerous legal attempt to allow for any judge of the Supreme Court to swear in the president has no place in modern day Kenya and it will be battled out using a two-pronged approach; through the courts and in the trenches.

Other proposals in the pipeline to amend the current election laws, as proposed by the Jubilee Party, constitute a political travesty. There is lack of proper moral understanding and standing in cementing the country’s democratic gains. Subverting the Constitution based on reckless and wretched short-termism is an exercise in futility.

Cheap thinking by the Executive prompted the withdrawal of the police officers assigned to provide security to former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka. The flippant and witless remarks by Fred Matiang’i, the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Interior Coordination, that the government will not restore the security of the two political bigwigs is outrageously ignorant and arrogant. This extraordinary ignorance and incredible arrogance is typical of the “Kanuism” ideology of yesteryears. The “Kanunization” of Kenya’s current political architecture is not only evil but also selfish. Creation of a police state is surely taking shape.

Police State & Third Liberation
With the establishment of a police state in the offing, the Constitution is set to be watered down through fatuous legislations and amendments as well as unconstitutional acts. Who wants to live in a country in which one’s activities are closely monitored by the state? Is Kenya turning into a ‘Museveni Republic’ or the dreaded days of the feared Special Branch effectively used by Daniel Moi? These acts of paranoia and dogma by those running the affairs of the state are an impediment to Kenya’s progress and eventual politico-economic prosperity.

Frustrations harbored by the oppressed may erupt into an uncontrolled spurt of mass action that will be the genesis of Kenya’s Third Liberation. In any case, the Third Liberation will be a political and historical juncture firmly informed by and founded on the negatives of political exclusivity, political excesses and negative ethnicity.

Occurrence of the Third Liberation will be a struggle against the cumulative ills of the past and present governments whose eventuality would involve hallmark changes to the Constitution with great focus on the total transformation of the electoral and political systems. Perhaps, the sweeping changes of the Third Liberation are needed to restore morals and sanity in the country’s political leadership.

The attempt to institutionalize a police state and a government that embraces the “Kanuism” ideology is totally unacceptable. For the politically upright and astute citizens this is a moment to jealously guard the country’s hard-fought political gains.


Friday, 22 September 2017

Attacks against the Judiciary Denigrate Institutional Independence

Supreme Court judges during court proceedings
Image: Courtesy

The last three weeks have been characterized by infantile political scenes and irritable political episodes following the landmark ruling by the Supreme Court to nullify the outcome of the presidential election. The scenes and episodes in question are nonetheless hypnotized political rhetoric that outrightly negate and demean the spirit of constitutionalism.

Honchos, the rank and file, sympathizers and the passionate supporters of the Jubilee Party and its candidate, Uhuru Kenyatta, feel aggrieved by the majoritarian decision of the Supreme Court. In any polity that fashions and attempts to emulate the ideals of democracy, criticism is certainly warranted. The criticism, however, ought to be constructive and positive and not destructive and negative. For President Kenyatta and his camp, negative and destructive criticism of the Supreme Court is indeed supreme than the otherwise ideal constructive and positive criticism.

In understanding the vile and bile meted out to the so-called architects of the ‘Supreme Coup’, it is fundamentally important to revisit the institutional history of the Kenyan polity. As a country, we are still nursing hangovers of institutional complicity and conspiracy between the arms of government despite transiting from the retrogressive Lancaster constitutional doctrine to a more progressive legal dispensation.

Ideologically, we are accustomed to the evil antics of the Judiciary shielding the Executive without the requisite adherence to the rule of law. This culture was engendered by Jomo Kenyatta, perpetuated by Daniel arap Moi, observed by Mwai Kibaki and now being affirmed and cemented by Uhuru Kenyatta.

There is no doubt that the president and his associates are the unrivaled masters of double speak going by the black and white sentiments uttered in regard to the functions as well as importance of institutions. On several occasions, the president and his troops are on record urging members of the opposition to address their grievances through the courts. In fact, following the opposition’s dispute of the now annulled presidential election results, Jubilee’s leadership was categorical in persuading Raila Odinga and his compatriots to seek the intervention of the Supreme Court.

What changed? Is it that the Jubilee Party expected the Supreme Court to rule in its favor? I find it an extreme act of political destitution and constitutional disrespect by individuals who took an oath of office to protect the values and ideals of the constitution to constantly attack the four judges of the Supreme Court without any legal merit.

Threats by Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto and the Jubilee Members of Parliament to whittle down the powers of the Judiciary are a subversion of the constitution and more precisely, a plan to carry out a constitutional coup. Issuance of threats by the Executive directed towards the Judiciary is an antiquated political antic that invalidates the maxim of the rule of law. Politically liberated and conscious citizens should not allow such a warped legal precedence to define Kenya’s fledgling democracy.

Political propaganda continues to take centre stage with various plots hatched to oust the four judges who declared the presidential results null and void. Fallacies by the Jubilee side of the political divide indicate that there was connivance between the four Justices and the Raila Odinga led NASA coalition. Propagators of this supposed golden propaganda are inherently hell bent and selective with facts. In any case, the actions of Jubilee’s leadership and its proxies amount to fashioning the doctrine of alternative facts.

At this rate, we are headed towards a direction where the Executive will be dictating the order of business in Parliament and what judgments are to be made by the courts akin to the dubious political games witnessed during the Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel Moi’s administrations. As a matter of fact, there are two instances under the Jubilee administration in which the Executive has convoluted with its “tyrannical” majority in the National Assembly to legislate fishy pieces of legislations. These tyrannical episodes were during the passage of the Security Amendment Act and the Election Laws Amendment Act. We should carefully read between the lines.

Independence of the Judiciary is at stake with judges expected to rule in favor of the Jubilee Party. This certainly doesn’t observe and adhere to the sanctity of governance institutions. The Jubilee side of the political divide should stop these juvenile sideshows laced with outbursts of anger. Remarks made by Jubilee Party’s leadership on the conduct of the Supreme Court are notoriously dangerous in view of the spirit of constitutionalism. The president, his deputy and other Jubilee supporters must demonstrate in deed and not just in mere words that they respect the verdict of the Supreme Court.

Going forward, Kenyans of goodwill should not allow the political leadership to suppress and stamp out the fundamental ideals that informed the genesis of the Second Liberation. To this effect, institutional independence in accordance with our national constitution must reign supreme.


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Key Issues & Concerns as Kenya & Rwanda Head to Polls

Image: Courtesy

Two member states of the East African Community (EAC), Rwanda and Kenya will be holding their elections four days apart this month. Rwanda is expected to kick-start the exercise on Friday August 4th while Kenya will be conducting the general election on Tuesday August 8th.

These two polities have similarities and differences socially, economically and politically. Rwanda’s political environment is perceived to be authoritative with President Paul Kagame viewed as a political leader bearing dictatorial tendencies. On the other hand, Kenya’s political landscape is considered to be democratic.

One of the contemporary challenges that African states face is neo-colonialism. Political neo-colonialism manifests itself in the nagging manner in which Western states and non-state actors, intellectuals and the academic establishment direct African nations to adopt the system of democracy and its principles.

This has resulted in the mushrooming of Western democratic franchises in Africa which do not embrace the existing socio-political and economic conditions of the continent. To me, the Rwandese people are not led by a despot as claimed by most of the Western world entities. They have only adopted a system that suits their local conditions.

Considered to be one of the democratic models in Africa with democratic institutions, Kenya is also well-known in the world when it comes to corruption. The Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International in January 2017 ranks Kenya at position 145 out of 176 countries in the world. The high rate of corruption in Kenya means that the so called democratic institutions in the country are neither effective nor efficient.

Rwanda, on the other hand, has managed to effectively deal with corruption even as President Kagame continues to be accused of being a “strongman”. The same report ranks Rwanda at position 50 out of 176 countries in the world and the 3rd least corrupt country in Africa. This is an indication that governance institutions in Rwanda are very effective.

When it comes to healthcare, Kenya is no match to Rwanda despite the former having a high number of medical practitioners, medical training institutions and medical facilities. Rwanda stands out in Africa having formulated and implemented the universal healthcare system. This system enables all the Rwandese citizens to access healthcare services.

The situation is different in Kenya with most Kenyans finding it difficult to access affordable and high quality healthcare services. The day that the country’s most corrupt yet highly paid politicians will seek for medical attention in public hospitals, is the moment when the healthcare system will no longer be broken.

Despite having a constitution that is considered as one of the best in the world with democratic institutions, Kenya is really struggling with the political inclusion and representation of women. In the 11th Parliament, women accounted for only 19.7% of the total number of MPs in the National Assembly and 26% in the Senate. Unfortunately, most of these women parliamentarians are nominated. In fact, the 11th Parliament failed to pass the Gender Bill yet this is an institution admired by many in Africa.

For Rwanda, women representation in Parliament is close to 60% which is the highest in the world. Indeed, the dictatorial regime seems to be performing extremely well in the inclusion of women in political representation.

Even on basics such as environmental cleanliness, Rwanda outsmarts Kenya. Compare the capital cities of the two countries, Kigali and Rwanda. Kigali is a very clean city in comparison to Nairobi which is full of filth left, right and centre. The county government of Nairobi has failed terribly on waste management. But also the residents of Nairobi lack the discipline and common sense of keeping the environment clean.

Kenya’s economy is more developed than that of Rwanda despite the latter registering high rates of economic growth in the last ten years. However, the level of inequality and economic destitution in Kenya is high. Political and economic institutions have failed to address the country’s economic disparities.

President Paul Kagame, loathed and loved by many, has been successful in leading the country. Under his leadership, Rwanda has established effective institutions that are results-driven. Kenya is reeling from the confusion created by the constitution in terms of the governance institutions. These institutions have so far not been effective with the main problem being the poor quality of the country’s political leadership.

As Kagame is assured of winning another term in office, many still question his decision not to let go the presidency. But if majority of Rwandese have given him a go ahead, who are we to question and pester him? There are certainly various ways of attaining socio-economic progress and not necessarily the one dictated by Western governments and entities.

Deng Xiaoping, the man credited with spearheading China’s market reforms and economic resurgence, famously stated that “it doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice”, indicating that economic growth and development can be achieved through various politico-economic systems. So, why don’t we appreciate that Kagame has invented a system that suits Rwanda?

The democratic Kenya faces a high stakes election that can either be won by the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta, or Raila Odinga. Kenya’s economic progress has been hampered by corruption with poor accountability of public financial resources. Kenya’s governance institutions are largely ineffective with incompetent individuals.

Rwanda’s authoritarian regime has effective institutions while Kenya’s democratic regime is struggling with institutional efficacy. As the two states head to the polls, the future of their citizens will highly depend on the outcome of the elections with regards to the organization of the governance institutions. For the two, it is a date with destiny.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Sonkorism versus Elitism Underpin the Capital’s Gubernatorial Race

Left to right Peter Kenneth, Mike Mbuvi and Evans Kidero.
Image: Courtesy
Touted to be one of the epic duels in the forthcoming general elections, Nairobi’s gubernatorial race presents an opportunity for key lessons to be learnt in view of the morals and perceptions of a society; the perceived ills, dissension and reality of the economy; and the cherished ideals, values and doctrines in a polity. The society, economy and polity in reference are basically a representation of Nairobi and extensively the Republic of Kenya.

The frontrunners in the capital’s gubernatorial race are the incumbent Dr. Evans Kidero and the current Senator Mike Mbuvi Sonko whose triumph will largely depend on the level of significance and sophistication that Peter Kenneth will bring into the race. Viewed from a superficial standpoint, Nairobi’s gubernatorial race appears to be a battle that will feature the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party and the Jubilee Party. With pristine insight, however, the gubernatorial race in Nairobi County is a duel that centres on the failed promises of the political elite as well as the elite individuals and the hope that the populist mantra of political leadership gives to the majority of the electorate and/or citizens.

Dr. Evans Kidero, Peter Kenneth and Miguna Miguna are quintessentially members of the elite and hence their policies and even ideologies tend to largely subscribe to the ideals and the values of elitism. Mike Sonko, the flamboyant Senator who had embraced the ruffian brand of politics until his recent nomination as Jubilee Party’s gubernatorial candidate, is a master of the populist politics and his values and ideals perfectly resonate with the thoughts and wishes of the common folk and more specifically the average Nairobian.

The elitist gubernatorial candidates have often-times chided Senator Sonko as a political leader who is incapable of steering the affairs of Nairobi County particularly in the management of the economy a notion that is widely shared among Nairobi’s elites who most of the times are out of touch with the reality. The Senator as usual continues to fire back at the so-called learned political class terming it a bunch of PhD holders who have failed to turn-around the fortunes of the capital’s residents. This jibe by the Senator of course demeans the value of academia and extensively the values of intellectualism but I have to admit that it is the bitter truth and the harsh reality.

Criticism directed to the Senator’s populist politics and the activities of the Sonko Rescue Team appear to be more than correct from an outsider’s perspective. The outsider’s standpoint in this case represents the thoughts of the elites who as I noted earlier on tend to fashion formality which has made them to be out of touch with the reality. The activities and operations of the Sonko Rescue Team can be classified as a “collection of informal policies in action" which in fact forms a basis for further research on the viability, validity and vibrancy of such kind of policies within Kenya’s economy and polity.

An insider’s perspective that is shared among the average Nairobians reveals that indeed the Sonko Rescue Team has been beneficial and one needs to take a walk to the informal and low-income settlements or get to hear from the common folk in order to come to terms with the reality. I cannot dispute the fact that the Senator has also used this opportunity to gain political currency but the factual information on the ground and the fallacious imaginations fabricated by majority of the elite are clearly distinct as day and night.

The Sonko Rescue Team is an outcome of a failed and flawed policy implementation process especially by the county government of Nairobi. If the economic heaven that Nairobians were promised by the incumbent was to happen, then I strongly believe that the Sonko Rescue Team would have been emasculated and perhaps casted to the oblivion. It is therefore the failure by the current government of Nairobi County to honor the social contract it signed with the Nairobians 4 years ago that has made the Sonko Rescue Team to be a vibrant outfit and hence presenting the Team Sonko as a juggernaut in the capital’s gubernatorial race.

Senator Mike Sonko has positioned himself as the voice of the voiceless and an advocate of the ordinary Nairobian. This is the cohort of the capital’s electorate that turns out in large numbers to vote and it is Nairobi’s populace that literally runs the city’s informal economy. The informal economy is larger than the formal economy in Nairobi and Kenya as a whole. A larger informal economy and a smaller formal economy is one of the distinctive features of a dual economy. Nairobi region contributes more than 60% of Kenya’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and these estimates are majorly from the recorded formal economic activities. The informal economy creates approximately 85% of the total employment opportunities generated by the Kenyan economy of which Nairobi is largely responsible for.

The consideration and inclusion of the informal economy activities implies that indeed Nairobi contributes more than 75% of the total income generated in Kenya through formal and informal means. In short, it is the Senator who comes across as having a “realistic” plan for the Nairobians who eke out their living in the informal economy. The elitist political club of his opponents in the gubernatorial race cuts an image of an enemy of the informal economy with their economic ideologies and aspirations largely coming out as illusions of grandeur.

Party affiliation and tribal arithmetic are key factors that will determine the outcome of who will win Nairobi’s gubernatorial race but my bet is on Sonko to carry the day due to the failure of the political leadership of the incumbent. Nairobi is a cosmopolitan region and just like last time when the majority decided that Dr. Kidero was best suited to be the Governor than the battle-hardened Ferdinand Waititu, this time round the metrics will be based on the mega promises of the elite and the aspirations of the Sonkorism school of thought.

And by the way, some elites hold the opinion that the Senator’s lackluster performance in the Senate in terms of intellectually contributing to debates and drafting bills dwarf his ambition to be the next Governor of Nairobi County. But the reality is how many voters think of the debates and bills fronted by their representatives in Parliament when voting? Or rather, how many voters religiously follow the Parliamentary proceedings so as to know how intelligent their representatives are? In fact, majority of Nairobians voted for Mike Sonko as the Senator in the last general elections without considering how well or poor he was going to contribute to the Senate proceedings. The triumph of Sonko in the gubernatorial race will be an epochal moment and perhaps it’s time to taste new waters. The ultimate decision rests with the voters.