As politicians dig deep and reveal the rot in the other coalition partner, the Kenyan can only marvel and thank God for this sole strength of the coalition, an otherwise inferior form of government. Remember the childhood behaviour; call me a thief and I will reveal what you stole last year!
ODM and PNU are turning the war against graft into a 2010 General Election weapon for power and succession greed.
The drama of Kenya’s coalition government is drastically taking shape with the duo villains –PNU and ODM- distinctly mastering their roles against the protagonist; the Kenyans. It is the drama of the absurd.
The latest episode is a tragic-comedy whose main theme is Corruption.
Inadvertently or at the behest of politicians, a red flag was raised over the graft at the Education Ministry by one of the foreign moderate contributors; UK’s Department for Foreign Investment and Development.
All along the two villains have been running subterranean malevolent activities until the PM Raila Odinga set the crescendo by publicly stating that he had requested his boss, the president, to suspend Education Minister Prof. Sam Ongeri and Education Permanent Secretary Prof. Karega Mutahi to pave way for investigations into the missing Free Primary Education (FPE) funds.
The PM has an endemic weakness for populism; and FPE being popular with a majority of Kenyans, PM went for it without a second thought and he scored big with the people. However, as Raila scored, the president was put on the defensive; he had to move or risk coming out as one who condones corruption.
Like a game of sophists, the president’s men timely leaked the PriceWaterhouse coopers report on the maize scandal that heavily implicated Raila’s men including his personal assistant Caroli Omondi and PS Isahakiah. The leak was not expressly meant to fight corruption, but to show the PM as a hypocrite and one equally culpable as those he was accusing.
Perhaps the PM should have stopped awhile on FPE and even raked for another popular event, but emboldened by the cheers of his cronies, he called a press conference and suspended Minister Ongeri of Education and Ruto of Agriculture. He then proceeded to Japan for an official tour leaving behind a fanfare for the press, news weavers and self claimed political analysts. The PM’s decision was rescinded immediately by the head of state, with the two Ministers defiantly stating they “know their appointing authority and the PM is not the one. “In fact, the president’s advisor Prof. Kivutha Kibwana called Raila’s action of suspending the Ministers as a non-action because the PM has no such powers in law. To date the two Ministers –Ongeri and Ruto are discharging their duties unhampered.
A section of ODM MPs called for foreign intervention doubtlessly to make the issue a case of international concern. This was not a popular move among Kenyans, and it fizzle out.
A phone discussion between the president and the PM, though well conceived became a disaster when Salim Lone, one of the PM’s handlers, announced that there will be a meeting of principals on the Sunday the same day Raila was to land in Kenya. This raffled Kibaki’s men who said the PM was defying protocol by seeming to plan the president’s diary. The meeting never happened; instead Kibaki went to church to attend mass while Raila held a rally in his Langata constituency. He informed the public that the president should let him punish Ministers from his ODM party. This was a direct affront on the Agriculture Minister Ruto.
Kibaki and Raila are the same in the fight against corruption. Neither has a whiff of genuine desire to fight corruption; they remain captives of their cronies.
The difference is President Kibaki makes no pretence to express the will to fight corruption. Whereas, just like Kibaki, Raila’s stance and forceful posture though lacking genuine desire to tackle corruption, he employs bare deceit in his speeches; often saying what the masses would like to hear.
A former Law Society of Kenya chairman, Ahmednasir Abdullahi describes Raila as: “…blinded by the allure of power. He prefers expedience over substance, drama over reality, result over process and perception over fact.”
It is in public domain now that both PNU and ODM have set up secretariats that are actively raking out information on their rivals to cast them as corrupt.
The dirty war that has exploded in the grand coalition is posing a threat to the reform agenda especially the constitutional review.
While addressing MPs during the 14th opening of the 10th Parliament, the president directly chided the PM by stating that the war on corruption should not be “politicized nor personalized” But on a different occasion at the University of Nairobi in the presence of IMF president, the PM indirectly hit back at the president by saying the war on corruption should be personalized because it involves people, and should be politicized because politicians are involved too.
Swift to the call, the president’s men leaked a report of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC), implicating the deputy PM and ODM’s party deputy, Hon. Musalia Mudavadi. The leaked KACC report quoted a City Hall insider saying somebody claiming to be Hon. Mudavadi’s agent had been paid sh.59 million.
The PM has been thrashed here again. Mr. Mudavadi is his no two in command. The PM came out to defend his Party Deputy claiming the war on graft (in this case) has been politicized; confirming his opponents’ proposition that the PM is selective, personal and politicizing the graft war.
Rift Valley ODM MPs have found friends in PNU who agree that the PM is out to finish the Agriculture Minister and Co-deputy of ODM party Hon. William Ruto by using the banner of corruption.
ODM a once efficient political machine is in ruins. The rebellion by the Rift Valley MPs and a number from the Coast and pastoral communities has weakened the party from strength of 100 MPs to less than 60 MPs. The PM really thirsts for a formula to jettison Ruto. He even removed Ruto from the House Business Committee (HBC). Eldoret South MP Peres Simam put the PM’s strategy framework against Ruto right when she said: “From maize scandal, Mau evictions, suspension of Ruto and his removal from the HBC, it is clear Raila has stepped on Ruto’s toes.” To these Raila retorts: “You cannot be elected President with Kalenjin or Luo votes only.”
During the recent 2nd anniversary of the coalition on February 28 2010, the PM is reported to have lamented the woes in the coalition chronicling issues such lack of consultation in all major decisions and appointments.
Kibaki is on his way out, but not in an irrelevant style. Already the populous Rift Valley is warming up to the president. Events in parliament and out have shown that a majority of Rift Valley MPs are in a party mood with counterparts in PNU, having recognized one enemy; the PM. To mention a few; PNU MPs tried to help Ruto allies block ODM’s move to remove his name from House Business Committee. Right now they are singing one song on Constitution Review Process.
Raila is a pragmatic man, sharp to identify the interests of ordinary Kenyans and a grand organizer; but he lacks the suaveness, uncommonness and display of intelligence visibly inherent in a presidential material. The PM passes well as a director of elections for a political party. The same is of the PM’s advisor, Miguna Miguna whose abrasiveness has earned him hatred from all save for his employer.
These fights and 2010 grand-standing are the biggest threats to the success of the implementation of key reforms designed to avoid a return to violence.