Tuesday, April 24, 2007

OP-position Politics

I read with amazement the recent polls showing that President Kibaki's popularity is on the rise. This despite all the evidence of governmental malfeasance in the Artur saga, despite the disarray in his presumed party of choice, NARC-K, and despite his damning record on corruption. It made me wonder whether Kenyans actually do get the government they deserve. After all, didn't Moi win TWO elections in the multiparty era? Do we intentionally sabotage our future well-being? Is that why we tolerate such mind-numbing mediocrity in our leadership?

However, further reflection sent my mind in a different direction. Perhaps I was asking the wrong question. Maybe what I should be concerned about is this: Why is it that, despite all the the mess Kibaki has made, the opposition is unable to convince Kenyans that they offer a better alternative? The rising popularity of the incumbent is probably more a comment on the incompetence and myopia of opposition stalwarts such as Raila Odinga, than it is an endorsement of Kibaki's leadership. (Ditto for Moi's electoral triumphs.)

Just look at the comedy that is the ODM's attempt to find a single presidential candidate. Not only are the numerous contenders afraid to subject themselves to the will of their members (preferring a "consensus" method), we now here that they are concocting another MoU of sorts (having obviously forgotten the lessons of the last one): they are proposing to share out among the losing candidates several non-existent vice-presidencies! Of course the winner will promise (perhaps swearing on the Holy Book) to honour this proposal should he ascend to the Presidency. However, since after five years of trying these same fellows have yet to develop a formula for forcing a sitting President to adhere to pre-electoral agreements, it is a safe bet that come next year it will be business as usual.

Further evidence of the opposition's penchant for missing opportunity is to be found in their manifesto, or more precisely, their lack of one. No one can tell exactly what Raila or Kalonzo stand for or exactly why each feels Kenya needs them as her next President. What exactly do they want to change (apart from the personnel)? Why does it need changing and why are they the best people for the job? After all have they not both served without distinction the Moi and Kibaki administration? Weren't their tenures more notable for sycophancy and naked greed rather than concrete achievements?

Perhaps they think that it is their turn to eat. After all, according to Mbita MP Otieno Kajwang' : "Kalonzo’s supporters say he is the best, going by opinion polls. Mudavadi is being told he is a coward who left for Uhuru the other time so he must run to prove he is not. Raila’s people say he has struggled and supported other people for too long. The people of Rift Valley are investing in Ruto and he has to carry on. Uhuru is a party chairman, so if you tell him not to run, it is like killing his party." None of these "election manifestos" give Kenyans confidence that the ODMites would govern any better than the NARC-whatevers.

I am starting to hope that Kenyans are finally wising up to the truth: those who seek to supplant Kibaki are no better than he is. Their ineptness is shouted from the rooftops and worn as a badge of honour on their lapels. In a very real sense, by electing them we would simply be playing musical chairs with the Presidency, changing like for like. And I suspect, and fervently pray, that many of my countrymen have grown weary of playing this game.


Anonymous said...

This goes to show there is still alot of -isms in the country.
Teachers, MPs, stock market investors, certain regions in the country etc get a salary increase or other benefit and they cease to care about corruption.

Donor have also cast their ballot with their purse--- scandals after all have more impact where donor are upset.

As for the opposition (whether here or in the first world), it is not feasible to form a strategy when your job is to "react" to the executive.

In any case, it is more dangerous for the incumbent to be the lead than to trail

Anonymous said...

Great blog!!! Your analysis is spot on, unsurprisingly Kibaki will probably win a second term because the opposition have proven to be far worse in terms of naked greed, self interest and hypocrisy. While I detest Kibaki, I detest him less than I do the ODM bunch.

On a somewhat related note, I couldn't help chuckling at the debate on the thread relating to Kimunya and his bag of propaganda goodies. Here is my take, as a Kenyan disillusioned with the current political landscape, I have learned to rely less on process and outcomes at the electoral level and focus instead on individual actions and choices. What do I mean? Individual Kenyans will have to become their own saviours and in the process people will develop less tolerance for mediocrity and incompetence because they themselves will eschew such values in their every day lives. It is the age old adage, change from within not without. What relevance is this to the Kimunya debate you ask? IMHO it mattered less to the attendees what Kimunya espoused, most attended to verify the perceptions of the economy they had from their own personal interactions and outcomes e.g. a friend of a friend of a friend narrating how their real estate investment in Langata was thriving and how you should get on the gravy train before it halts. Not surprisingly a large chunk of the real estate boom in Kenya is being financed by Diasporans. My point, most folks were disinterested in taking Kimunya's prognosis at face value, what they wanted to discern was whether the GOK policy towards 'their' investments was punitive or accomodating. From the feedback received, majority left satisfied that the government was not out to 'muzzle' their endeavors.
In this equation, I'll also try to be brutally honest, the travails of the common man were irrelevant. The immediate priority for most was 'show me the money.'

In closing, I'll go back to the individual actions......I'm a firm believer that the social entrepreneurship that is blossoming in Kenya will be the catalyst for socio-economic transformation. Not sweeping government policies and initiatives but individual Kenyans like the James Mwangis, James Gachuis, etc who are midwifing innovative products and services that are accessible to the mwananchi and have the capacity to transform their lives. And not necessarily doing this out of altruism but rather exemplifying creativity and initiative in their own lives that impacts others. Like you I believe the raw statistics are bogus however by the same token there are a plenty exciting things happening in each neighborhood, village, mtaa that confirm to me that Kenyans are turning a corner.

3N said...

Gathara, first pole sana I haven’t visited here in a while. I am wrong to see a change of heart on your part regarding the ODM / Kibaki conversation?

I agree wholeheartedly that the Kenyan Opposition do not offer anything new in terms of visions and plans for Kenya.

And the thought of having several vice presidents makes me want to throw up. If Raila and co haven’t learnt that MOU’s are less useful than toilet paper after a politician has taken the throne; they have a lot to learn about politics.

Until the opposition matures, Kibaki or any other incumbent who has done OK, will have an edge.

Gathara said...

No change. Kibaki's record and standing are not magically improved by the denigration of his opponents. The point I was articulating is that the opposition have never "missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity". My stand has always been that none of these geezers can be trusted with power. Seeing as they seem to be the only choices we are stuck with, I have proposed that we vote with a view to limiting the damage they can do i.e. vote whomever you wish as President but ensure that you give the opposite party a majority in parliament.