Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Why is Kibaki’s star shining brighter now?

Recent opinion polls have been good news to president Mwai Kibaki. He has continued to enjoy great support from all those polled with his approval rating reaching 60%. This is good news for a president who is being ganged against by an opposition, which is more interested in its survival as a cabal than exposition of a futuristic ideal.

Kibaki’s style of governance is the complete opposite of Moi’s. Moi thrived on populism, interference and I know all the answers kind of policy. His hand was in every pie from the village polytechnic to international affairs. Kibaki has sought to give greater latitude to his ministers and the civil service. He has assumed a rear seat posture overseeing his troops’ performance. The introduction of ministerial performance evaluations and contracts is one such approach. However this noble idea has not brought out the fruits it was intended to. Evaluations without attendant consequences, positive or negative, make a mockery of the whole effort.

I have argued elsewhere that Kibaki is the general of his troops. He has his company commanders and lieutenants in the field. When the troops are out in the trenches and the battle gets hot, they look back to the captains and lieutenants for immediate guidance and orders. These in turn go to the generals for the overall guidance and war strategy. The general sees the whole war while the captains see the immediate battles.

General Kibaki has won, or at least is winning, the economic battle. He has managed to beat back the enemy in the infrastructure front, the agricultural front, the national pride and faith in the government. Kenyans, especially those in the Diaspora, have gained confidence and trust in their country’s leadership and have started investing heavily back home. Kibaki has enhanced democracy by not interfering with the operations of the opposition and other dissenting voices, albeit not without hitches. These small battles have served to give Kenyans confidence and faith in their president, hence his popularity.

However, there is one area where the field commanders have failed their general, security. When the people cannot carry on their daily lives without fear of attack, when the people cannot carry out their business without extortion, when the people cannot live in peace on their God given lands then something is wrong. The war cannot be worn when half the troops are not pulling in the same direction with their general. The war is lost when the general cannot give his captains directions while out in the field. The president gave his ministers latitude in the performance of their duties. Unfortunately most of them lack the training, background and experience to operate in environments where independence of thought and action is the hallmark policy.

After years of watching government by directives, most ministers found themselves mesmerized by the powers they command without directives on how to use it. Previous regimes had taught leaders to toe and dance the party cum government line. When they were let loose, they had no idea what to do. They are more concerned with popularity than performance yet their evaluation is on performance and not popularity. Security continues to be the number one concern of Kenyans in the Diaspora. Mt Elgon area, Mungiki, Northern Rift, Somalia border all constitute a major threat to national security.

Michuki finds time to go to the USA to talk about international terrorism while his backyard is burning. The police commissioner threatens to charge politicians with dissent while Mungiki is killing his men and innocent citizens. These are the kind of battles we don’t want. We do not want to waste our national energy on fighting for our right to speak out loud; at least this does not kill like the thugs in Mt. Elgon or the Mungiki in Banana.

I have not heard of the police commissioner visiting those clash areas. I have not heard of the president visiting those clash areas; yes mama Jimmy was there, but we did not elect Lucy Kibaki, we elected the husband. Kibaki’s leadership in the restoration of faith in our national security is lacking. He needs to give directions and leadership, he needs to take charge of the fight against Mungiki, he needs to take charge of the fight against the rustlers in Northern Rift and we need to see him do it.

Show of war arsenals, tough talk, armed police presence are all tools of deterrence. Don't we have these in abundance? Does't the president have powers to flaunt and even use them to protect his people? Has anyone complained of use of excessive force in quelling Mt Elgon crisis? Has anyone complained of large scale louting of Mungiki in Banana and Githunguri? The answer to all these questions is a loud NO! Pray then, why is the president and his field commanders failing the people. We demand action physical tangible action to restore security in the whole country. If the president's leadership and direction is going to continue to be conspicuous in its absence and inaction in these areas, then this might be his Waterloo. All the good will and popularity may not be enough to send him back to the house on the hill; there may not be enough voters left come voting day, not at the current rate that Mungiki is killing them.

The time for talk and lullabies is long gone, it is time for the baton and the prisons.


The hunt is not yet over

Why is ODM-Kenya sitting down to share the meat when the hunt is not yet over. The deer is still out in the bush and running yet they stop the hunt to share the imaginary spoils. They want first to agree on who will be the meat roaster, who will oversee the skinning , who will be the keeper of the bones, yet the game is not even caught. The fragile opposition is held together by the hope of each getting a big share of the spoil. When the day of reckoning comes and one of them is appointed to wield the knife, the fall out will begin.

All the rhetoric about unity and common purpose is just that, rhetoric, empty at that. Time is running out for whoever is given the mantle to face Kibaki to begin the long and arduous task of selling himself/herself and the policies he will pursue. Taking Kenyan voters for granted will prove disastrous. Kenyans are increasingly getting fed up with the dithering and teetering of the ODM leadership. Since they denied voters the right to pick on of them to lead the hunt, time has come for them to decide on who is to take the gauntlet and face Kibaki. Uncertainty and procrastination does not augur well for the opposition. Kenyans will get increasingly exhausted by this uncertainty and may become lethargic and disillusioned.

There are those that support ODM because of specific candidates as soon as the spoils are shared they will flutter away with their candidate. The earlier this happens the better for the fight for leadership. The energy expended in flamboyance and arrogance needs to be contained and channeled to the fight for democratic supremacy, something the opposition is faulted for by denying the voters the right to pick one of them. The Kenyan presidency is not a collegiate presidency. Only one person can be the president at any given time. This grouping of ODM aspirants needs to come up with one of theirs so that the public can be focused on the battle ahead. The notion that the unity can be maintained only if they agree to share the spoils is a selfish defeatist misnomer. These agreements or MOUs are not worth the air expended in uttering them not even if you solder them on cast iron. The country is guided by the constitution not MOUs and other pre-election power sharing deals. Who tells them they will be elected in their own constituencies anyway? This is fodder for inefficiency and arrogance in public service, when ministers owe their positions to boardroom deals rather than competence and experience. You cannot buy loyalty.

The opposition is at pains to show their solidarity, at a whiff of doubt of this they rush out as one to show they are together. Most observers can tell that the only unity is at those staged photo sessions. Every good hunter knows that the easiest way to catch game is to break the herd first. Kibaki is a hunter, he is waiting for the herd to break and one by one the game will be picked, poached, acquiesced, contained and bagged. Come elections day, most of these die hard oppositionists will be die hard Kibaki supporters. As Achebe would tell us, the man who holds the knife decides how the yam will be shared. Right now the knife is in Kibaki’s hand and it is likely to remain there unless the ODM decide who is going to lead the hunt rather than who is going to eat what part

Watch this space.

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