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.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Artur, Artur Nonsense

Like the sponging relative you just cannot shake, the Arturs are back. Today's Standard brings news of the impending wedding of Miss Winnie Wangui Mwai (the daughter of "Narc activist" and President Kibaki's alleged -and repeatedly disavowed- wife No. 2, Mary Wambui) and Mr Artur Margaryan.

It is amazing how, despite being categorises by Interpol as an international fugitive on the run, Margaryan can still make time to have a relationship -"she comes to see me very often, we are together a lot of the time"- give press interviews and author a book (imaginatively titled "The Artur's X-Files" -I wonder what genius came up with that). This doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the police, does it? Margaryan goes on to declare: "In a week’s time, she (Wangui) will join me." Why not simply put a tail on her? Or is that beyond the capabilities of Interpol?

Anyway, this latest Artur foray into the headlines is sure to revive public interest in the fate of the Kiruki Commission findings. The report is gathering dust at State House despite a promise of "speedy action" from Margaryan's future father-in-law. Fat chance of that now!

Margaryan ("I used to call him James and I would like to be called Mrs James or Mrs Margaryan after the marriage is formalised," says his fiancée -MRS. JAMES! LOL!) has also provided further details about his "deportation". He and his brother, Artur Sargasyan, were said to have been deported from the country in June last year, following a security rumpus at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport during which Margaryan reportedly drew a gun. However, his version of events reads rather differently. "They (read authorities) put me on a top class airline to where I chose to go. That's not being removed".

Finally, further proof that love is blind (and stupid) was provided by the bride-to-be. Speaking of the man who flouted Kenyan laws in broad daylight, threatened to unleash his dogs on the Commissioner of Police, and despite claiming to spend hundreds of thousands of shillings daily, ducked paying rent for his Runda house, Wangui says: "I never saw him as arrogant and rough as claimed. He was a good-hearted and honest person . . . . I know they were not criminals." That gives the phrase "madly in love" a whole different meaning.