New King Maker in Town

July 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Agriculture Minister William Ruto (centre) after he was installed as a Sabaot elder during the launch of the Mt Elgon

If you have a keen interest in Kenyan Politics, you are likely to know that none of our past Presidents have really made themselves. We can trace one individual to whom they owe their good fortune to – A King Maker. A trip down memory lane should quickly underscore this assertion.

After the 1961 General Elections, Jaramogi O. Odinga, whose party – KANU, managed to clinch a convincing majority in Parliament, negotiated for the release of Jomo Kenyatta, and in 1963 catapulted him into power as Kenya’s first President. Barely 5 years into the Kenyatta presidency, succession politics were at play and this time it was A.G. Charles Njonjo who suggested to Kenyatta, that Daniel Moi would be an acceptable Vice-President. Njonjo would later also help Moi consolidate power upon succeeding Kenyatta, following his Death on August 22, 1978.

Of the King makers, however, none had managed to read the people’s mood and capture their attention as Hon. Raila Amolo Odinga did, with the ‘Kibaki Tosha’ declaration in 2002. Raila led a KANU break-away faction (LDP) to merge with Kibaki’s NAK, forming the unstoppable NARC that went on to form the government, in what was hailed as the second liberation. (sigh*)

Now, in the run up to the 2012 elections, the incumbent President Kibaki is set to be vacating the seat after his two constitutional terms and the battle is starting to heat up. The August 4th Referendum has thrown a spanner into the gears of the political realm and has left many disoriented and unable to discern who would emerge as a clear favorite to clinch the presidency.

There are many who have declared their interest. Among the front runners are PM Raila Odinga, and VP Kalonzo Musyoka. Other promising candidates are Gichugu MP Hon. Martha Karua, Minister for Internal Security Hon. George Saitoti, Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa and Higher Learning Minister Hon. William Ruto. Though unlikely to be the next President, it is the later that I think will end up as the most influential person in the coming election cycle.

Hon. Ruto; hate him or love him, is fast emerging as a candidate for the hall-of-fame of Kenyan politics. He has stayed relevant, despite having quite a rap sheet that includes; KANU era skeletons, a never ending court case – in which he stands accused of defrauding the NSSF of millions, the maize scandal and ultimately is widely perceived to be one of the masterminds behind the Post Election Violence, that saw almost 1600 Kenyans lose their lives and about 300,000 displaced internally. It is a wonder to many that he still flies high, a Ministerial flag and even more baffling to me that he still breathes. This defies all logic; the man simply has too many political lives.

In 2007, leading up to the Elections, I recall erroneously referring to him as the most overrated politician in Kenya, it made no sense to me that he would be expected to deliver the Rift Valley vote to ODM. I humbly eat that pie.

Ruto is now the defacto leader of the Kalenjin Community, and the main face of the ‘NO’ campaign against the draft Constitution, that is now aligned with various church leaders. Yup, Church Leaders! Quite the unholy Union if you ask me.

Strange? I guess not, it is politics and as Mzee Moi once summed it up, “there are no permanent friends or Enemies in politics.” *And as if to underscore this, Moi has been hitting the campaign trail with the likes of former Mungiki sect leader Maina Njenga and even with Koigi Wa Wamwere, a man he had detained 4 times and forced into self exile twice. You can’t make this stuff up; the Kenyan Political realm is truly a jungle.

But I digress.

Ruto, who cut his teeth in the YK 92 days, is an apt student of Mr. Moi and is now back in his good graces after defying and dislodging him to become the Kalenjin kingpin. He has managed to stay relevant by putting on a brave face, speaking soberly in public and projecting an aura of invincibility. He seems to have understood, and rightly so, that Africans respect the powerful and the more power he appears to posses, the more respect/fear he inspires. Even in the face of the oncoming Tsunami that is the ICC prosecutor Ocampo, that promises to wash Kenya’s politics as ‘white’ as snow; Ruto hatishiki (is unmoved).

The man is a political professor in the making and in this political dispensation, I think he has seen very far and holds a few cards up his sleeve. With the impending ‘NO Camp’ Loss at the referendum, one may be forgiven for thinking that this will mean that his clout will come to a resounding halt. But that would be far from the truth, should the ‘NO Camp’ manage a modest 30% vote in the August 4th vote in a crushing loss, the man would still have plenty to smile about.

For one, he has already established himself as the leader of the Moi Orphans; soon the man will find himself as the leader of an even larger group, the Red ‘No Camp’ Orphans. And he is likely to stay relevant within this group by pressing for Constitutional reforms and promising to deliver on the much wanted changes. With the churches and other ‘NO Camp’ groups needing representation in Parliament, they may very well build around Ruto, a right-wing Conservative base, resembling Western style politics. Under this banner they will continue to agitate for changes in the Constitution, first to do away with the Kadhi Courts and Abortion clauses and in future other causes that they may wish to influence. Ruto could very well find himself leading the Country into the next Era of the ‘Politics of Ideology.’

As for Ocampo and the toothless ICC, they will come and go. My hunch is that they will discover that they never had adequate jurisdiction to try these Citizens of Kenya, or that the evidence was inconclusive and life will go on.

In as far as 2012 politics is concerned; Ruto will be the man to woo if you want to be President. Not only can he deliver a whole tribe to vote for you, but he would bring with him the well funded Moi Orphans who can no doubt contribute to your Campaign’s War chest, and though it remains to be seen – I would like to think that he could deliver a size-able chunk of the NO Vote if he plays his cards right as earlier underscored.

Among the three leading candidates for the 2012 Elections will no doubt be Raila and Kalonzo, with the third horse yet to emerge. Whereas Uhuru and  Martha Karua appear to have lost their fervor, it is likely that Karua will make good her threat to run for the presidency and manage a paltry 4th finish at best, while Kenyatta happily settles for a running mate position within the PNU circles, with the hopes of running for the top job in 2017.

But with over 70% of the Population being under 30 years old, Kenya is no Country for Old men. A Young sprightly candidate could easily emerge to lead this Nation. And in such an event, the isolated Ruto could very well find himself in a position of making the new King.

It is with this in mind, that I make the prediction that one William Samoei Arap Ruto, will emerge as the new King Maker.

East Africa, the Great?

July 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Flags of East African States

Flags of East African States

East Africa, The Great?

Have you ever wondered what the future holds for the East African Corporation? Current trends would have us dream that a Super State is in the offing; the Great Federation of East Africa (FEA), or is it the East African Federation (EAF)? Hmm… Whatever the name, if realized, it would mark the beginning of a new Era in the region and in the long run, perhaps even a ‘super’ state.

With its current membership, the would be Federation would unite 5 countries; Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania & Uganda and with that Union, create a Country sprawling 1,817 Sq KM and bring together 132 million East Africans with a purchasing power of $73 B. This would make the EAF the 4th Largest Country in Africa and the 2nd most populated.

We also have Congo, DRC which has an observer status in the Community. If admitted, it would add a 2,344 Sq KM land mass, inject 68 million residents and a piddling $ 11.6 B purchasing power. Thus, Making the EAF the largest, most populated Nation in Africa and 4th in size at the worlds stage.

Taking a sober look, one would  see that these are not numbers that would warrant excessive excitement. They do not fair well in comparison with some of Sub-Saharan Africa’s giants like S. Africa with 49 million people that realizes a GDP of $276 B or Nigeria’s 150 million who have managed a $207 B purchasing power. To be impressive, EAC needs to ‘show me the Money!!!’

The union would nonetheless, thrust East Africa into a grand stage as a regional power for a myriad of reasons.

Chief among those reasons would be the market that it would open up to investors, both local and international. They would have access to 5 countries for the price of one - Yaani, a company seeking to  penetrate the market would only need to be registered in one of the five countries, NICE!

For local companies, the deal would make expansion even more attractive – whereby, a company based in Kampala would find it almost as convenient to open a branch in Mombasa, Kenya as it would opening it in Jinja, Uganda. It is therefore easy to see that this would spur great competition in the region, with the the benefactors being the consumers and the Tax collectors – and with that, economic growth and hopefully shrink the number of our dollar-a-day residents.

There would also be an increase in trade, and in particular regional trade which in recent months has already started reaping the benefits of the EAC’s move to remove all border tariffs in the Bloc. The tariffs have vanished and revenue collection is in the process of being normalized within the community. The EAC has also in it’s sights for 2012 a fully integrated common market, complete with a single currency and stock market that are expected to elevate the EA Stock exchange to be among the most traded on the continent.

Kaunda, Nyerere, Kenyatta & Obote

There are also other benefits of this corporation, such us a unified foreign policy and even cost cutting by having only one High Commission per country, instead of Five. As a Block, we could certainly wield more bargaining power at the UN and other Bodies. There would also be the advantages that come with an integrated Defense program, as the armed forces merge to form one formidable Army. Over time, we would not be vulnerable to threats by nations such as Egypt, who have in the past postured in a manner suggesting the use of force, should the EAC countries dare utilize the Nile Basin waters for development. Dialog would be the only acceptable way to deal with the Block.

This is why today’s official launch of the Common Market Protocol is much cause for celebration. I congratulate our leaders for moving us closer to this dream.

Btw~ Way to go Kenyan Parliament for pissing all over our EAC Parade, your hefty pay increase is yet another reason why we optimistically await a People’s Parliament in Arusha. I wonder if it’s possible to register a briefcase Political Party in the mean time, perhaps East African National Union, EANU Juu!

Who forgot to devolve the Judiciary?

November 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Chapter 13: Judiciary

scales-of-justiceThis chapter has been a lot like stubbing in the dark for me… While reading it, it’s apparent that there is a lot about our judicial System that I did not know, therefore can not make a comparison or claim any improvement in this Draft.

Despite this limitation on my part, I have come across same clauses that spell out accountability.

For instance. According to the Seventh Schedule (Article 312) Transitional and Consequential Provisions, there shall be an interim Judicial service set up within 30 days of enacting the new Laws. This Service will vet all judges interested in retaining their Jobs. All those who will be cleared of corruption Judges will continue with their Tenure. Of note also, is the fact that the Chief Justice will be barred from holding office for more than 10 Years and may not serve past the Age of 70 Years.

Firing of corrupt and ineffective Judges will no longer be a reserved duty of the president alone. An act of parliament would also suffice in riding the country of these types of judges. This is especially welcome, and should see Parliament have what it takes to institute judicial reforms.

Though a lot that has been included is good, there is one issue that seems like a gross an glaring omission in the draft. The fact that there is no mention of County and Regional Courts to go along with the County and Regional Executives and Assemblies. No regional Attorney Generals or County Attorneys have been mentioned in the draft.

The whole idea of having a Devolved is so as to bring government closer to the Mwananchi.  Not only to bring the Executive and the Legislative governance to the people, but also the Judiciary.

I think our Experts overlooked this issue, due to the fact that they were too busy listen to interest groups and politicians. Had jurisprudence guided them on this issue, I think they would have come to the realization that the legal needs of a Nomadic people in the arid North of the country would not be the same as those of the Coastal people. They therefore should have sought to establish Local County Courts that would specialize in a people’s needs.

Devolved Government

November 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Devolved Government: CHAPTER 14 of the Harmonized Draft Constitution of Kenya

committee of experts logoI’m sure that most by now have had a chance to look at this chapter, being the Juiciest of them all. Ladies and Gentlemen Majimbo is Here and it looks like it may be here to stay.

Many politicians in the Republics short life have attempted to bring about a devolved government.

It is not a well known fact however, that the original plan was created by Wilfred Havelock, Michael Blundell, and R. S. Alexander – all members of the Pre-Colonial Parliament, who envisioned hiving the country into 3 devolved Regions. That plan never came to fruition then – but but that was not the last we ever heard of it.

mr-ntimama In the decades that followed, this idea would be the subject of much controversy. With it’s opponents claiming it to will promote ethnicity and tribalism, and on the other side supporters championed its  focus on equitable development.  The most famous proponents of Majimbo in different dispensations of the nations Political timeline were the Kenyas First VP, the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, the late Minister Hon. Ronald Ngala, the soon to be octuagenarian Minister Hon. William Ole N’timama and lately joining those ranks are Agriculture Minister Hon. William Ruto and the Prime Minister Hon. Raila Odinga.
They have tried different tactics to market it: From the infamous Majimbo brand to District Focus and now Devolved govt.

After years of being against it…. I seem to have developed some optimism towards the devolved government. However, the number of Governments that have been proposed in this latest draft maybe enough to through the country into a bureaucratic mess.

As stated in Chapter 14 of the Harmonized draft Constitution, Kenya will have 4 legislative levels of government.
Senate, Parliament, Regional Assembly & County Assembly

We will also have the pleasure of being served by 4 levels Executive officers with their corresponding Executive Councils to tow. They are:-
The Prime Minister & Cabinet, the Regional Director & the R. Executive Council, The Mayor and at the ‘mashinani’ (ground level) the County Governor and the County Exc. Council.

In Nairobi, the Mayor will enjoy a more powerful role than other Mayors in the country as he will serve as a defacto Regional Director. The Metropolitan region’s four Counties will have no County Governors, leaving the Mayor to be the only executive authority in the region. The corresponding four County Council Assemblies, however, will exist  adn they will be represented by a Senator and in Parliament alike.

The Bureaucracy will not be in Nairobi, as much as everywhere else in the Country.

One would expect, that  for the first few Decades, as we get used to the new constitution – confusion and bickering would prevail in governance. The Mwananchi will continuously be pushed back and forth in his/her bid to access services that is the right of every tax payer.
One can not help but wonder what the conversations would be like with a COuncil representative. “Hapana, hio sio mambo ya County kanjo… Eeh, tafadhali enda uongee na kanjo ya Regional. ” And even the most helpful official could only offer advice, “Na wikikataa, jaribu Mayors office ama uongee na MP wako.” ISH!
And if one had a need for renting a public space or even set up a business, getting the right permit could prove to be more than a trip to kanjo. Try 3 kanjos.

Then we have corruption, which as it stands according ot the TI- Kenya reports, accounts for 30% of the average workers income issued as bribes. if not curbed, the situation could arguably get worse under this new constitution. Should your Council Askaris, regular Police or any government official decide to give the Mwananchi hard time,  they could use any number of  excuse. From tickets for not having an appropriate permit per any of teh given government bodies to finding ways to make the red tape work in the benefit of the official – the citizens rights could easily be trampled on, and to undo this mess could take a mind numbing court action and expensive legal fees.

Then there is the issue of Ethnicity. If our Politicians are allowed to Hi-jack the process, each Regional government could end up serving as a Tribal HQ that could be used to nurse and develop Anti-Nationalistic views and movements. There are those who would seek to take advantage of the regions to solidify their positions as community leaders.

Much of the Majimbo talk that preceeded the 2007 Election, is directly linked to the post election violence that was witnessed. A mis-informed lot was convinced by their leaders that instituting Majimbo would result in taking over farms, businesses and property that was in ‘their region’ and was owned by ‘outsider communities’. This type of thinking woudl need o be cartailed…. and in a Country that has been in the precipice of war, such matter can not be ignored.

All this could be averted however, if care is taken to see to it that the need for devolution does not come before, national Peace and the need for effective service to the citizen. It is easy for one to see that the idea is a noble one, but perhaps we would end up with one too many ‘regional governments’.

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