Thursday, March 31, 2005

Who Needs Parliamentary Sheep Committees (PSCs) ?

By Adongo Ogony

"You cannot put goats in a committee of sheep.."

Those were the sentiments of Chris Murungaru talking about the new Kibaki strategy of ethnic cleansing in the committees of parliament.

Murungaru as usual probably had no clue about the sad imagery he was painting on how the Kibaki regime intends to move forward with the affairs of the nation. Apparently the President needs a bunch of sheep to mbee their way fuataring his Nyayo on everything including the new constitution that Kenyans have fought and died for in the last decade and a half.

Let's reflect a bit on what is going on with the Narc/DP government.

What really is the big deal with the Parliamentary Select Committees?

I will restrict myself to the PSC on the Constitutional Review.

Two weeks after Kibaki made his last ceremonial promise to ensure the completion of the constitutional review process, Kenyans have been treated to a macabre juggling and twisting as members of the Kitchen cabinet and prominent characters within Kibaki’s DP party have gone full stretch invoking crude tribalistic techniques and outright intimidation to tell us how they intend to carry the president’s agenda in the next one year or so. It is a frightening menu stinking of sheer incompetence and myopic thinking stuck in the sixties and seventies politics that thrived on fear of the presidency and misplaced tribal supremacy . It is a strategy that will fall on its face much sooner than later, but don't tell that to Kibaki and his handlers. They wouldn’t know what you are talking about.

Back to the PSC on the constitution.

Kiraitu Murungi has decided obviously with wise counsel from the big honcho that the PSC on Constitutional Review needs massive ethnic cleansing. They need at least half the membership of the PSC to be certified members of the DP party or sheepish followers of the same (Murungaru's words not mine). The rest must also be those of a different sheep variety who will follow orders from State House without question.

As a result stubborn characters like

Raila Odinga must be kicked out of the PSC and very soon from the very government they helped to bring to power. Who will replace the likes of Raila?

In comes the likes of

Paul Muite who is not a Narc MP but who fortunately comes from the "right tribe" and is ready and willing to sell Wanjiku for two pennies to make the president happy. Never mind that Muite was a colossal failure as a chair of the PSC during the Bomas III when Bomas delegates told them over and over again that they don’t give a damn what the president wants in the constitution but rather care for what the majority of Kenyans want in their new constitution.

The first thing that strikes me about this whole sad episode is that nobody has told Kibaki and his people that the PSC is completely irrelevant in terms of the new constitution. What is the new PSC going to do that the previous ones hadn't been able to do? Haven't the PSC already completed its task leading to that fraudulent constitutional amendment bill which we are going to get thrown out by the courts?

What else does Kibaki expect the PSC to do?

Are we going to start the review process all over again?

I don't think so.

Why should Kibaki and his DP party invest so much political capital and stoke the ugly flames of tribalism for such a useless entity just to pull a prank on Raila and the LDP?


They don't know what else to do and everybody is beating about the bush like a lost hunter hoping some rabbit is going to emerge from nowhere. It is not happening folks. This sleep walking politics is beginning to look really bad and at this rate Kibaki should stop worrying about Raila. He has a whole nation pretty pissed off as it were already. Raila must be a very lucky man. When your worst enemy is Chris Murungaru, a man despised even in his own backyard where he recently called a failed meeting to swear allegiance to him you should just smile and never utter a word.

The attempt to tag Raila as the reason Kenyans do not have a constitution is not new. It is as old as the DP government which we thought was supposed to be a Narc government. Of late the need to demonize Raila on the constitutional review has acquired increased urgency as Kenyans from all walks of life begin to challenge Kibaki directly to stop playing games and leave Kenyans alone to determine their constitution.

The nonsense that the Bomas Draft is about giving Raila the PM's job as per the infamous MOU is a tired gimmick and looses credibility each day as the Narc era comes closer to its end. Kenyans know that they demanded the PM long before something called Narc came into existence leave alone the stupid MOU that Kibaki used to dupe his colleagues into supporting him. The one thing I have always said is that when you see a general in the army cheating his own comrades who fought with him/her you should never trust such a general.

Well the attack on Raila reached new dimensions when Francis Muthaura in concert with Kiraitu Murungi came up with something called the "cabinet position" on the constitution. What the duo forgot is that way back in 1999 Kibaki himself with Kiraitu in tow rejected anything called a cabinet or government position on the constitution and walked over to join the Ufungamano group. The argument then was that the cabinet or government had no business telling Kenyans what their constitution should be. What happened boys?

What we know for sure is that the entire cabinet, the whole government so to speak as well as all MPs were delegates at Bomas and if the delegates did not accept some of their proposals it is water under the bridge. It is ridiculous for Murungi and the civil servant Muthaura (who should be in retirement as per the laws of the land) to come up and keep hawking the so-called government position on the constitution after the delegates at Bomas completed their work. If every group that presented proposals at Bomas were to revive every proposal they made we would be starting the whole process all over again. Is that what Kibaki wants? May be.

Something else happened in the last couple of weeks that is pretty scary for our democracy. Once again just like we saw during the Kenyatta regime particularly during the crisis following the assassination of

Tom Mboya in 1969 and later of

(JM's son John, at a press conference in 2000)

Josiah Mwangi Kariuki in 1975 we see a section of our politicians grouped under the usual tribalistic formations claim they are the self-appointed supporters of the government. Norman Nyaga the other day using his own Kibakometer decided to call a meeting of those they had decided were the real supporters of the government.

During the Kenyatta era this kind of nonsense was frequently used to mobilize support for the grand dictator. In fact during the Kenyatta era the activities included taking oaths to support Mzee Kamaliza by all means necessary. I don’t know if Nyaga administered any oath at the Milimani hotel but I believe it is just a matter of time before the crude tribalists in the Kibaki regime start oathing supporters to fight Raila and other real and imaginary enemies.

The way it works is as follows:

A leader becomes unpopular with the people. The leader panics and has no answers for the issues the people are raising. The leader turns to his tribal base for support. The “smart” ones within the tribal base try to look for outside “sheep” to make the support team look a little less obviously tribal, and viola a self appointed team of government supporters is cooked. The trouble with this kind of groups is that they tend to be fascistic. They often claim the monopoly of patriotism to cover up the fascist intentions of suppressing genuine opposition to their leader whom they treat as a god who can do no wrong. I am not so sure that such archaic methods of power grab are going to work in present day Kenya. As a matter of fact I think the Nyaga Dream Team of Kibaki supporters suffered a major blow when just a tiny fraction of the 222 MPs were available for the meeting. The real flop of the Nyaga nonsense is that he probably still thinks this is 1966 when his old man was a member of the Kenyatta cabinet. Dream on Norman and good luck.

Sometimes after Kibaki came to power many Kenyans were under the impression that Mzee was not well. Of course every Kenyan is aware of the tragic accident that caused major injuries to the president just before the 2002 General Elections. However issues of ill health has plagued the president ever since. There were rumours of the president suffering a stroke just after taking office. I was personally alarmed during one of the activities after

the death of the VP Michael Kijana Wamalwa when the president failed to show up even after the red carpet had been spread out and had to be unceremoniously folded.

There were those who blamed the treacherous activities of the Kibaki government on self centred tribalists around the president who were taking advantage of his ill health to run the country on his behalf. In fact I was in Bondo town when our

current VP Moody Awori was chased away by irate members of the public who couldn’t stand his dithering on the constitutional issues. By way the most well received speaker at that massive rally was Mary Ngaru, an LDP activist from Thika who thrilled the crowd by talking directly to the youth and the women and asking them if they had seen any signs that their lives would improve under the Narc rule. The crowd responded with a massive NO that could be heard miles away. The consensus at the meeting by the MPs or at least what they told the crowd was that Kibaki was a good guy surrounded by evil characters that were up to no good. Personally I don’t buy this argument. I believe Kibaki is a healthy and sane individual who must take full responsibility for the numerous failures of his government particularly on the constitutional review process.

However today I am prepared to concede one thing. Kibaki is in a deep political coma. The man is beyond redemption. We have been keeping the president on a political feeding tube as he vegetates in his political coma for two years now. The decision we have to make is like that of the family of Terri Schiavo in Florida who had to decide whether to remove her feeding tube and let her die in peace or keep her fixed on the tube indefinitely. In the Schiavo case as tragic as it is it is a matter for the family to decide.

What then do you do when a whole president is in a political coma and is relying a feeding tube? The trouble here is that unlike the Schiavo case where her coma causes her great pain and discomfort as an individual in our case when our president twists and turns in his coma the whole nation has to bear the pain and trauma of this most tragic disability.

I suggest it is time for the nation to make decisions as to how long we have to keep our president surviving with the political feeding tube as we suffer the pain of his political incapacitation.

One more thing, I had the great pleasure to actually read the whole Bomas Draft last week. In the past I had read it in bits and pieces but boy reading the whole thing is a real eye opener. Congratulations to Bomas delegates. That is one hell of a beautiful constitution. Of course it can be improved. But one thing struck me reading the draft. The real deal in Bomas is devolution of power into the regions. I do not blame Kibaki and his friends for being opposed to the Bomas Draft. That thing is scary if you are in power unless one is a truly selfless visionary who is ready to put the interests of Kenyans above their own. It is not surprising that only those not in power, DP during the Kanu era and now Kanu and the LDP can wholly support what Kenyans wanted in their new constitution.

Devolution would put an end to the repressive Provincial Administration that has been used since the ukoloni era to perpetuate control of all regions by the central authority.

Devolution will ensure that the regions are governed by elected and accountable premiers who are answerable to the people as opposed to the present situation where the regions are governed by PCs DCs and DOs who are answerable only to State House.

Devolution will ensure that taxes paid by Kenyans and other development resources are not heaped on Mr. Mwiraria’s Treasury so that Mwiraria becomes the baba na mama of how we spend our money and develop our country.

Devolution will ensure that a portion of our VAT and payroll taxes as well as gas rates and other forms of government revenue are allocated to the regions to promote development.

Worshippers of presidential monarchy, some of whom seem to think Kibaki will be in power for ever will continue lying to Kenyans that devolution is creating huge unmanageable bureaucracies that are too expensive. What they don’t tell you is that we already huge bureaucracies in each province and district as we have agricultural/forest/water/roads officers na kadhalika. The only difference is that present bureaucracies are administered from State House and are not accountable to the people they serve but to their political masters in power. Today if we are fed up with the PCs and DCs the best we can do is plead with Kibaki to remove them, which never happens. With elected premiers they will be toast if they don’t do their job.

What we have in Kenya today is really a rotten system of government. Even in the United States where they have a presidential system there are 50 states with elected governors and house of representatives. If the people of California do not want their governor they don’t go to George Bush, they go to the polls and elect a new one. The system in Kenya today which Kibaki and his cohorts want to perpetuate by mutilating the Bomas draft is actually a feudal bastardized presidential system where the president controls the lives of every Kenyan through the Sub Chief to the Chief to the DO to the DC up to the PC and all the way to State House dominated by a man who only appears in parliament once every six months to deliver a speech and go back to sleep. This has to stop and it will wakened wisipende. Have a good Katiba Day.

The writer is a human rights activist.

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