Living in the Second Republic is like being treated to a live comedy show at a dusty theatre somewhere along the streets of the city, neither Venice nor Guangzhou but may be in the south of Sahara. To those who do not understand, the Second Republic is our current state after the re-introduction of multiparty politics in 1990/91. Before this, we had the First Republic that came into existence after we were granted independence by the British colonialists.
The first phase of the Second Republic was from 1992 to 2002, the final ten years in which the self-proclaimed “professor of politics” Daniel Moi and his Kanu brigade were in power. The second phase ostensibly began in 2002 after the fall of Kanu and the legitimate assumption of power by the Narc coalition and it is still in progress. So, since the onset of the second phase, we have had three governments in place; the Narc government under the leadership of Mwai Kibaki, the Grand Coalition government led by Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga and the present government under the leadership of Uhuru Kenyatta.
Moi’s regime was egregious especially when issues that deal with the economy come into focus. The governments that have been in place from 2002 have economically outperformed Moi’s 24 years rule. My interest however, is the focus on the present government and opposition which have vitiated good governance and leadership. This is why we are treated to unpaid for comedy shows each week.
At the moment, as a state, we are in dire need of visionary leadership at the national level because it seems the government and opposition mandarins lack a clear agenda to push forward the Kenyan Dream. When I cross-check both sides of the political divide, I only see power-drunken monsters who have sinister and pernicious aims to further their own interests, perhaps a practical application of the words of Max Weber and Niccolo Medici Machiavelli of using power to propagate one’s own interest(s).
Truth be told, both Jubilee and Cord were only formed as political marriages of convenience. For instance, Jubilee came into being because of the ICC factor. Cord, on the other hand, came into being on the common ground that its leaders were not suspects of the PEV and that they had been deserted by their political friends turned foes. Raila Odinga risked a political limbo after William Ruto and his team walked out of the Orange party. Kalonzo Musyoka had also been a temporary political orphan after he was bolstered out of the then G7 political outfit. They therefore found commonality for their unison. So can you candidly tell me that these separate political camps had genuine development agenda for Kenya? Certainly not.
Ever since the Jubilee coalition won the elections, we have witnessed situations where wrong decisions on governance are made or sometimes decisions have taken so long to be made until you start questioning thyself on the existence of government. On several occasions while seeking for people’s opinions regarding various governance issues, the blame is directed towards the advisors of the president and his deputy which is quite correct. This has been the case with the security situation in the country.
One thing that irks me with the ruling coalition is how they respond to criticism from their opposition counterparts. The opposition in any democratic society can say anything whether it is true or false but how you handle such castigation can either weaken or strengthen the opposition. How many times have we heard the president, the deputy president and their troops react angrily to criticism to a point where you think they are going to burst their chests and cheeks out of anger or end up crying like some grown up baby denied some piece of yam? This gives the opposition some political mileage because for them they can utter anything and then wait for the government side to react with so much anger. For heaven’s sake, you’ve won elections meaning you have the government machinery and this implies that talk less and do more to fulfill the election pledges. This is certainly where the man from Othaya needs to dish out his wisdom on how to deal with critics and cynics.
To what gives reaffirmation to my opinion of the Jubilee-led administration as a clueless government is the recent ignorant remark by the Executive of “can’t pay, won’t pay” in the wake of the teachers’ strike. The rule of law ought to be respected otherwise contravening it sets a bad precedence whereby the political class and the ruling elite will ignore court orders soon and in the possible future.
If at all a government has the zeal and chutzpah to fight and eradicate corruption then its leaders should say what they mean and mean what they say when it comes to matters corruption. The president was quite proactive when he named and shamed some top government honchos involved in corruption sometime this year. All that we’ve heard are the on-going investigations which when concluded, we rarely see and witness prosecutions and if they happen, then the corrupt individuals go scot-free. If indeed the current administration is committed to enhance the desired socioeconomic transmogrification then it should begin with tackling corruption which is the primary channel that profligates our economic resources.
The Jubilee politicians led by the Executive dissipate some kind of negative political energy with some unfounded notion that Kenya belongs to them. The remarks given by them especially the deputy president are baseless as they only think of how they will win the 2022 general elections. Anyway, I have no objections whatsoever to the political ambitions of the deputy president but you cannot move from one corner to another proclaiming that the House on The Hill is reserved for you. I hate it and hate it absolutely seeing him get angry when he claims that some people do not wish him to be the president of this country sometime in the future. This is quite a skewed way of thinking.
The opposition on its part needs to do more if indeed it is the government in waiting. In criticizing the government, the opposition members should strive and endeavor to be more positive and constructive and shun from giving negative and destructive criticism. The problem with the current opposition is that it hardly gives solutions to the teething problems that we have experienced as a country except when they called for a national dialogue last year.
And by the way, what happened to the calls for a referendum by Cord? They had began the process of collecting 1million signatures but according to reports from several quotas, it is believed that they failed to hit the target. In my opinion, this referendum was quite unnecessary because of several reasons. Firstly, the referendum sought to address issues of insecurity and disbursement of more funds to the counties. The call for a referendum to address these issues was a faux pas because through Parliament, we can get solutions for such challenges. Secondly, the calls for a referendum was an opportunity for the renaissance, reinvention and rejuvenation of the opposition. Without Raila Odinga in Parliament, it has been a challenge for Cord to take on the government head-on as he is the face of Cord.
We cannot talk of a focused government and vibrant opposition if they end up politicizing matters of national importance. I am particularly concerned with the insecurity menace which has contributed to the digging of so many graves in Kenya. The common enemy here is Al Shabaab and instead of the two sides of the political divide uniting to provide amicable solutions, they end up trading accusations against each other and this makes the enemy happier. Take for instance the Al Qaeda attack on the World Trade Centre in the USA, the famous 9/11, the Charlie Hebdo shooting by terrorists in France or the Sydney Hostage crisis in Australia last year, where both the government and the opposition are usually united to fight a common enemy unlike in Kenya. What Kenyan politicians do not understand is that we should tolerate differences in ideological and/or philosophical dispensations but not differing on absolutely everything.
Before us is an issue that concerns the public wage bill which needs to set the stage for a sober and sound debate. When the courts decided that teachers are supposed to be awarded with a 50-60% pay rise, some MPs supported this move forthwith. Then came Ababu Namwamba, the Member of National Assembly for Budalang’i who drafted a bill that would see the salaries for the president, deputy president, Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, MNAs, Senators, MCAs and commissioners of the constitutional commissions reduced by 50% but this is already gaining some insurrection. I am very sure that this bill will be smoked out of the National Assembly because of many MNAs who are greedy and in fact the Speaker, Justin Muturi has already opposed it; which kind of a Speaker is this? Influencing issues before Parliament deliberates on them. A weak leadership indeed.
There are other pointers of a clueless government and moribund opposition which I will reserve for another day. The bottom line however, is that presently in Kenya we are suffering from a very serious disease known as the Leadership Deficiency Syndrome(LDS), cutting across the government and the opposition. This is why a third force should be in the offing to create a Third Republic where leaders will give way to logic other than the hopeless shenanigans we are seeing around. The next republic needs to be people-centred but now its actualization will only depend on voting using brains and not the current lascivious voting based on tribalism and it will also entail a bit of radicalism when dealing with corruption and other governance vices. This will be the remedy for a state where the sentimental remarks of Lord Acton are vivid: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.