Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Kibaki Dilemma: Between A Rock & A Hard Place

By Adongo Ogony

The empty debes are at it again. Noisier than ever. Actually it is almost surreal. “Raila is behaving like a hyena that follows an elephant thinking that it will drop its tusk” Those are the words of wisdom from one Mwangi Kiunjuri. If you ask me I think the elephant dropped its tusk a long time ago, which was then smuggled and now the poor animal is probably bleeding to death. But that is another story.

Who the heck is Kiunjuri you ask? Well he is said to be a former matatu tout now a member of the Kibaki cabinet. He sounds more like a tout still to me rather than a cabinet minister but I guess it depends on what kind of cabinet you have in mind. With Kibaki’s cabinet being a tout is probably a grand over qualification but I digress.

Then we have Saddam Hussein Mungatana. No, this is not the one in a Baghdad jail eating muffins and doing a little gardening on the side. This is another home grown, Kenyan fire breathing political novice and supposedly one of NAK’s big lifters.

According to Mungatana, the LDP will be like Saddam Hussein "When the battle was brought to him, he hid in a grave. Let me tell K'ajwang' that is what will happen to him” thundered the Garsen MP in a recent village rally.

"We will run over them like little small ants and crush them under our feet. By the time we are through with them, they will be hiding in a grave and breathing through a tube,
" Phew. Some battle plan with ants from Mungatana.

Well, Mungatana’s ramblings reminds me of a short play I wrote not long ago depicting a boxing duel during one of the hefty Narc skirmishes.

My play rotates around a group of rowdy and greedy politicians who, after months of endless quarrelling, calls for a boxing match between the major protagonists to sort out their problems once and for all.

In the opening rounds of the boxing match, one of the fighters gets floored and literally passes out in the ring where he is soon joined by a team of supporters and hecklers who want to rescue the fight in their favour.

As this battle goes on, a group emerges from the bushes carrying a huge wooden box and frog marching an unidentified person who later on turns out to be one of the presidential aides.

After the angry crowd forces the frog marchers to open the box only to discover to their utter dismay that the man in the ugly box is none other than the head of state who although looking confused turns out be okay health wise.

Under interrogation the frog marchers assert that they found a bunch of people carrying the box towards Karura forest and thought these might be the people burning Goldenberg papers in Karura and apprehended the box and one of the culprits although the others escaped.

The culprit then led the participants who by then had forgotten about the boxing match to Karura where he revealed a “Saddam Hole” which had been dug by the friends of the President with the sole purpose of locking the Mzee in the hole while they keep pretending that the old man is well and good in State House as they ruin the country.

I will not tell you how the play ended, but I’ll tell you the wananchi were happy to salvage the president and took him back to State House.

The essence of my play was to show what happens when a bunch of political goons hijack the presidency and usher the nation into chaos. I am glad we are beginning to see eye to eye with Mungatana on that one, even though I am not sure we agree on the contents of the “Saddam hole”.

Now lets get to some basics. Hon.Maitha passed away (RIP) and even before the pretended mourning by politicians is over people are tying themselves up in knots angling for his seat.

It is well known that Maitha was Kibaki’s man at the coast. He was the kind of bulldozer NAK/DP power barons needed to keep the coast within the grip of NAK in their war of attrition with LDP.

Well, the man upstairs obviously had his own plans and now NAK is staring at the real possibility that even the Kisauni seat may go to their arch rivals, leave alone having none to crack the whip and herd the shaky followers in the right direction

Personally, I have been urging my good friend Onyango Oloo who has lived in Mombasa for a good part of his life to go for the seat. He has promised to think it over and I am holding my breath. I told him to join Narc but we couldn’t figure out which one. Also Oloo said his politics is miles a part from the Narc mambo jumbo tumbo first politics. But we are working on things.

Already with some Kenyan friends we already came up with a plan on how to be a NARC MP and I told Oloo to try following the script as soon as he hits JKIA.

First, declare all your opponents as “spoilers and day-dreamers”. Tell the public that all those opposed to you are “inconsequential”. Tell them your plans are “unstoppable”.

Assure the wananchi you will carry development physically and deliver it to the area.

Also make sure you attack the big shots and don’t waste time rolling punches with “mouthpieces” like Mungatana. For one thing they stink and for another nobody will take you seriously.

Promise to revive the cashew nut industry even though most people in Kisauni don’t grow cashew nuts. Don’t forget the mnazi story. I mean not only do you have to support the complete legalization of the brew but also before you address rallies, ensure your body guards have had their fair share of the brew and keep a well stocked pick up(of brews) in the vicinity.

Of course you can always supplement your supplies with achwaka, to ensure maximum yelling by your supporters every time they see the competition. Check the weather, I mean political weather and lean wherever the wind goes. Never be afraid to switch parties even at the last minute. Whenever you loose at the party level shout rigging on top of your lungs and move to another party. It might be a good idea to have a handy list of all registered parties in the land.

Whatever you do, at least at the coast, keep a healthy distance from the newly self proclaimed “King of the coast”, one Mr. Ali Charau Makwere. The man is toxic. Anyhow I am still waiting for reply from Oloo and working on politics 101 for Narc members and Kenyan politicians.

In the meantime I want to answer a few questions and try to see how we can pull our president out of the mighty jam he is caught in.

What is the status of LDP/NAK stalemate of who owns the coalition?

Sorry guys but Muysoka is right.

If NAK or rather the DP power barons are fed up with the LDP and want them out of the coalition, the simple answer is to dissolve the coalition leading automatically to fresh elections.

Kenyans elected NARC as a coalition of LDP and NAK. You can call it a party or chicken droppings if you wish, it makes no difference. If that entity called NARC ceases to exist we need to elect a new government. That is the moral thing to do and it is also the smart thing to do but we all know that will not happen primarily because despite all the yelling and screaming all NARC MPs, particularly the discredited and unpopular clique around President Kibaki are scared to death of elections. Anybody with the kind of record these guys have would be terrified of elections.

What we will see are more attempts at trying to fraudulently smuggle defeated parties into the coalition. This probably could have helped if the parties actually merged with DP and others in a legally binding manner the way Moi did with the NDP, but first they would have to dissolve NARC and face the consequences. But just plucking aging friends from KANU and FORD people to help Mzee steady the ship changes nothing in the legal standing of NARC.

Can LDP leave the coalition?

They won’t because they are not idiots.

The nonsense that if LDP get their own candidate for the Kisauni seat then all LDP MPs have to resign and face new elections have no basis in law.

There is absolutely nothing the DP people can do to kick the LDP out of the coalition. As a matter of fact how do you decide who is an LDP MP anyway unless they self declare? May be we are going to need a NAKometer the way we needed a Nyayometer in the past. The problem is those equipments don’t work in the real world. They only exist in the fantasy world of politicians. The reality is that Kisauni may be the first constituency where we will have the first real LDP or NAK MP. How do you tell Saitoti or Mwakwere that they are LDP and should abandon their seats and go for fresh elections? Kibaki’s folks would have to introduce expulsions from Narc. Dream on boys.

The only tool available to them (the DP boys) is to misuse the president by asking him to remove all LDP MPs from the cabinet and hope they storm out of the coalition. This won’t happen either. Why should the LDP abandon the house they built together with their partner? Being in the cabinet is the prerogative of the president, but anybody would tell you people like Raila, Musyoka, Balala etc are not in the cabinet because of an ongoing love affair with the top guns of the Kibaki regime but rather because it is their government too. They fought for it like hell when Kibaki was in hospital and nobody had ever heard of the name Kiunjuri or Mungatana except may be for their own parents.

The LDP are pretty prepared to join the ranks of the opposition and keep their seats. If Nyachae and Karume can keep their seats after defecting to the government why should the LDP guys do anything different? And with the government facing all sorts of opposition and grumbling from every quarter Kibaki is going to be hitting the ropes whichever way he goes. Giving the LDP the open leverage to join the opposition by firing the LDP cabinet ministers is suicidal.

Kibaki is between a mighty rock and a hard place on this one. He leaves the LDP in the cabinet, the DP attack dogs become more frustrated and you know nasty dogs can sometimes turn on their owner. He fires the LDP team and voila it is field day for them to pull all gloves off and Kibaki will have the ugly choice of either calling fresh elections or wobbling his way through a messy and incoherent government through crisis. Believe it or not, things could actually get worse as terrible as they look.

By the way there is one tricky piece with the new Act passed in government recently taking away the power of the president to dissolve parliament and allowing parliamentarians to set their own agenda. As you see things could get pretty tricky as we go along.

Then we have the looming constitutional review debate, which is due to hit parliament as soon as it reopens. Already the daggers are drawn and smoking hot. The compromise bill passed just before parliament went into recess is facing the “Rotich Treatment”. This is the process where MPs pass bills, motions etc and later the big guns decide to use their secret weapon, the mighty pen of his Excellency to change the course of events.

By the way Habel Nyamu, a staunch supporter of the constitutional status quo in a recent column in the Daily Nation introduced an interesting angle on the Rotich debate. According to Mr. Nyamu under the present constitution the President has the ultimate executive veto over anybody appointed in the civil service. Nyamu argues that the KACC Act was passed under the assumption that the new constitution will be operational by the time the KACC Act takes effect. The logical conclusion from Nyamu’s argument is that the entire KACC Act is unconstitutional because it pretends to give parliament powers it does not have and also pretends to take away powers from the president which are conferred on the office by our present constitution. Just a reminder in case someone wants to take down the whole KACC rigmarole.

The conventional argument on the Rotich case is that the president used a veto power he didn’t even have under the laws of the land to block Dr. Julius Rotich from joining KACC.

The important thing here is that there is no doubt in my mind that President Mwai Kibaki will be prevailed upon by his power brokers not to assent to the so-called consensus bill and given the mood in parliament it is going to be an ugly and treacherous battle as the swords get sharpened to butcher Wanjiku’s constitution. Once again Kibaki finds himself between a rock and a hard place.

If he goes with his clique of increasingly irritating and hugely incompetent advisers by refusing to sign the Act into law, he simply opens a can of worms. For one thing different people are opposed to the Act for very different reasons. The Njoyas and NCEC types that for some time were part of the NAK cheering crowd are opposed to the bill because they rightly point out it is illegal not because of the 65% requirement but because the bill is against the Ringera/Njoya ruling.

Kina Koigi and other politicos are against the bill because the 65% denies them the golden opportunity to tear the Bomas draft to pieces and implant their fantasy constitution.

The bottom line is that as soon as Kibaki rejects the consensus bill everybody will be pulling in different directions. The Njoyas will be calling for a National Constituent Assembly, which as I have argued before is just another group of people to be sponsored by politicians.

Already the Ufungamano group which tried unsuccessfully to smuggle their own version of a draft constitution (almost identical to the NAK dream constitution) into Bomas have come out swinging with an appeal to elect some strange form of a Constituent Assembly of 130 delegates decided by population in the provinces and a group of special interest delegates.

First of all, how did they decide the number 130? Can someone help us with the math and the formula used to reach this number?

Secondly they want to impose the ridiculous demand that delegates not contest for elections as some kind of insurance against the delegates being just another group of politicians. This is laughable and silly. All the politicians need to do is pay for and sponsor their friends and proxies.

I have said before that the only way politicians will not influence who we elect as delegates is to ship all the politicians in a vacation to the moon until we finish the process and then call them back.

Can the Ufungamano team come with some practical ways of achieving that goal?

If you can’t achieve that task, then stop lying to Kenyans that we can elect a bunch of politics- free delegates.

We have had enough pie in the sky as it is.

How about those special interest delegates?

Would those be only from Ufungamano and NCEC or will we be having other groups?

Who picks what group should be represented as a special interest group?

State House or Ufungamano?

Predictably, Ufungamano wants the new constitution to be in place by 2006.

Why not 2007?

What is the difference?

And why in God’s name do our new reps want to hide in camera away from the nosy public as they mint this new constitution? Kenyans will not accept this charade of reinventing the wheel. We have our constitution based on the views we gave the CKRC. And we won’t surrender it to self-serving hypocrites and discredited former activists serving their new masters.

Anyhow what we know for sure is that the DP posse in parliament will soon be buying MPs to pass another bill to allow for unrestricted mutilation of the Bomas draft. That is the real politik, the rest may just be decoys to confuse the situation.
After all if parliament can do the same work Ufungamano wants why quibble with it.

Of course there is just the little tiny inconvenience known as the Kenyan public who may not be willing to sit by idly and calmly as the politicians make a constitution for themselves, by themselves. If Ufungamano still wants a people-driven constitution come join the wananchi who will be fighting to stop politicians from hijacking the review process.

On the other hand if Kibaki assents to the consensus bill, which is extremely unlikely, he can expect a myriad of lawsuits from all corners declaring the Act illegal.

The tragedy of all these is that it didn’t have to come to this. Through sheer unheralded incompetence, massive doses of tribal chauvinism and good old greed for power, Kibaki’s advisers have reduced the choices available to the president in any single issue of importance to grinding nail biters, where any move in whatever direction portends grave danger. In another world I would have sympathy for the president, but having witnessed it all, I say you make the bed, it is time to lie on it. And to all a good sleep. Ama?

The writer is a human rights activist.

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