Tuesday, April 26, 2005
The Presidency Is Not The Government Of Kenya
By Adongo Ogony
There is a myth spreading rapidly in Kenya, and a fascist one at that, which is to equate the person who occupies the presidency of our country to be “the government”. The fascist minded elements preaching this falsehood are also the perpetrators of the toxic factional bigotry that has paralyzed the Narc government from the very day it took over power from Kanu. To them anybody who does not support everything President Kibaki wants or even worse anything the self-appointed “protectors” of the president demand of them are enemies of “the government”, regardless of whether such people are cabinet ministers or members of the same coalition that brought Kibaki and his team to power.
The major bone of contention as everybody knows in this endless and irritating saga is the desire by the president and his allies, specifically in his own Democratic Party, to impose their own version of a new constitution which majority of Kenyans have indicated in no uncertain terms they do not want. To this group (self declared protectors of the president) anybody who wishes to support what majority of Kenyans in what they want in their new democratic constitution automatically becomes an enemy of “the government”. Never mind that there is no such a thing as a government constitution but rather a Kenyan constitution.
I have news for these “protectors of the president”. One is the obvious fact that in Kenya there is a big difference between the presidency and the government of Kenya. In fact let me remind them that Kenya gave birth to dictatorship when we allowed the foolishness of equating the presidency as synonymous with the government. The result is that the persons who occupied that very important office were illegally promoted to dominate and dictate the limits of every level of governance the people of our country were allowed to enjoy.
Under the Kanu regimes, supporting the government meant supporting everything Kenyatta or Moi said or wanted. Predictably a few political mandarins propelled themselves just like we see today as some kind of Kitchen Cabinet who projected themselves as mouthpieces of the two presidents. Most of the mouthpieces were people with very dubious reputations leave alone suspect intentions and motives earning them the term “mafias” which persists to this day. That is what Kenyans voted to change on Dec. 27, 2002.
Let me explain why in Kenya the president does not equate the government, unlike a country say like the USA where the president with his own non-elected cabinet runs the country whether they have majority support in Congress and in the Senate or not. In the USA neither the Congress nor the Senate can pass a vote of no confidence in the president and send them packing. Secondly in the USA when Americans go for the presidential election to determine their government for four years, they have one and only one task and that is to elect the president. Whoever they elect is the person who will run the government unless they die or are impeached before the end of their term. That is what a presidential system looks like.
In the USA the president’s cabinet are handpicked individuals whose major credential is that they support the president’s agenda, which got the president elected in the first place. So when George Bush appoints his Secretary of State, for example, it has to be a person who George Bush knows will support his policies. They may quibble here and there like was the case with Collin Powell in relation to the invasion of Iraq, but by and large they are there to serve the president and if they don’t like what the president is doing they have to leave.
In Kenya we have a completely different form of government. We are neither a presidential system nor a parliamentary system at the moment, thanks to the successful moves to corrupt our political system by both the Kenyatta and the Moi regimes.
When Kenyans go the polls we directly elect a president by a simple majority of votes cast and 25% votes in at least five provinces. Well now that Kibaki and company want to add four more provinces who knows what will happen, more on that later. My point is that in our system of government a president would find it completely impossible to govern unless the party or the coalition that sponsored his/her candidacy wins a majority of seats in parliament. That is why it is a dangerous myth if not outright dictatorship for the presidents to tell Kenyans that once we elect them they are free to run the country in whatever way they wish. Dictatorship is not just a matter of presidents jailing and killing their opponents, it also includes attempts to usurp and inherently abuse powers that do not belong to the abusers.
In real terms our current system of government is such that when our prospective presidents go on the campaign trail they have to ensure that they have the backing of a team, consisting of a party or a coalition that will win enough seats as Members of Parliament to enable the president and his/her team to govern. Such a party must present to the Kenyan electorate their agenda and program of action that separates them from the competition. It is not just a matter presenting to us a president with a pretty face, for example. The party or coalition must convince Kenyans that they have a superior platform that would advance the general interests and welfare of Kenyans. So in Kenya, unlike the USA, we elect both the president and his/her party all at once and give them a mandate to carry out their agenda as a team.
From the forgoing it is a matter of basic common sense that it would be an act of political fraud and in fact high treason against the people of Kenya for a presidential candidate to come to us with a party or a coalition with a specific platform and then as soon as we elect that president with his/her party, he turns around dismisses his party/coalition, creates dysfunctional factions and then join the very parties we rejected and come up with a personal agenda and call himself “the government”. This is the tragedy happening in Kenya and some of us refuse to coat in sugary words. Calling a spade a spade has never been a crime in my books.
In the 2002 General Elections Narc as a coalition of parties including the DP, Ford-Kenya, LDP, NPK and others grouped together and asked for our votes making very specific promises- a new people driven constitution in 100 days, end to corruption, reviving the economy, providing free primary education, creating 500,000 jobs a year, reclaiming stolen land and properties, embarking on providing affordable housing, addressing past crimes by the state to end the culture of impunity by state agents and essentially transforming the country from the rotten rule of Kanu into a government of change-just to mention the key promises. Kenyans embraced these promises and flocked to the polls to toss out the Kanu regime and usher a new era under a Narc government.
These were not promises to be fulfilled by Kibaki as an individual messiah. These were promises to be fulfilled by Kibaki working with the team that Narc presented to us and which we endorsed as a team.
Forgive me for asking a simple question. How is the president and his newly cobbled team going to fulfill these promises if, for example, those who want a people driven constitution after two years of dithering, lies and foot dragging are now declared arch enemies of Kibaki and the same Kanu which was supposed to be the source of problems for Kenyans are now the heroes “protecting the president”.? Did Narc and their presidential candidate willingly lie to Kenyans to get elected? If the president feels that the team that was supposed to work with him can no longer help him achieve the promises they made, why has the president not dissolved parliament to seek re-election with his new team from the DP, Kanu and Ford-People? Is that not the honest thing to do?
Those preaching the gospel of Kibaki as “the government” of Kenya may not have noticed the recent development whereby after almost two years of living in denial, the Democratic Party headed by President Kibaki, finally show the light and announced they will start membership recruitment for individual members of their party. This is good news for three reasons.
One is the obvious fact that the attempt turn Narc into DP has flopped so many times I have lost count. Secondly as a result of this new development the DP is now free to nominate Kibaki to run on their ticket for the presidency come the next General Election. In the meantime the DP should stop treating the Narc government as a DP government where all parties in the coalition must agree with the DP agenda or be declared enemies of “the government”. If the DP wants to go the next election with Biwott’s faction of old Kanu as their partners in a Kibaki/Biwott coalition that is their choice. Kenyans will decide who to elect then. For now let’s all agree it is fraudulent to smuggle people into the government under the perverted notion of seeking those who will “protect” the president.
The third aspect of the DP finally recognizing their own identity as a party is that the DP as a member of the coalition had better try understanding the basics of a coalition government. When you are in a coalition you consult and negotiate things with your partners. Kenyans should be concerned about the fact that the DP crew in government is still behaving like they own the government. In fact a case in point is the whole nonsense of Committees where people like Murungi referring to some mythical commonwealth rules want to impose membership in the committees to be those who will “protect the Kibaki government” Why don’t we just go a head and invoke colonial rules and procedures to run parliament and rename it Legislative Council (Legco) like Michuki wants to do with the Provincial Administration under the guise of fighting crime.
The bottom line is that people like Murungi, Nyagah and our one time “human rights activist”, Mirugi Kariuki should stop misleading Kenyans with the misguided illusion that the president is “the government”. Let’s put this old fallacy often promoted by dictators to a well deserved rest.
The president is a big part of the government, being its elected and most visible leader, but since we do not live in a monarchy, the president is not the beginning and end of government. It is the duty and responsibility of President Kibaki to nurture the party/coalition that brought him to power and fulfill the promises he made to Kenyans. In fact Kibaki’s greatest failure which will haunt whatever little legacy he lives behind is his abdication of duty when it came to uniting the coalition that brought him to power and succumbing to tired tribalist machinations trying to resurrect the Kenya of the 1960s.
The reality of the matter is that if there are unreconcilable differences within the governing coalition, then the president must call fresh elections instead of going shopping for partners midstream and dragging parties that lost the election into the government. For those of us not members of Narc or any of its affiliate parties we have no interest in how Narc handles the mess within the coalition, but as Kenyans we are not going to put up with Narc using the excuse of a messed up coalition to illegally impose unelected government on the people of Kenya.
If I didn’t know better I would have asked Kibaki to put an end to the atmosphere of panic and paranoia sweeping his government where all sorts of characters are now lecturing Kenyans on who supports or doesn’t support “the government”
It is embarrassing to the 3.6 million Kenyans who voted for the president to have Kanu members like Nicholas Biwott and David Sudi ordering those who travelled every corner of the land campaigning for Narc when our president and his late VP Wamalwa Kijana were lying in Hospitals in London, to quit their own government so that these Johny come lately types can occupy their position and “protect the government” To the best of my knowledge, our government does not consist of criminals who need protection so disparately. Or does it?
Now let’s get to the real dilemma for the Kenyan people in regards to the decision by President Kibaki to run the country like a private kiosk and bring in the likes of Biwott, Sudi and God knows who else so as to start the 2007 campaign for re-election.
The immediate implication of the hullabaloo about Kibaki seducing Biwott to join the government is that Kibaki is telling Kenyans to forget whatever promises he made to them in the past. By the way it is not possible for Biwott to join Narc as some people think because Narc does not belong to Kibaki or to his party. In terms of political parties, Kibaki can only invite Biwott to join the DP that he controls.
Just for the record, Biwott is completely wrong by alleging his illegal and unregistered party joining Kibaki is the equivalent of Kanu joining hands with the NDP after the 1997 elections or Kadu joining Kanu after the 1963 elections. In the cases of the NDP and Kadu, the parties joined the government by officially crossing the floor after the internal party organs agreed to do so. In fact it is illegal under our current constitution for the presidents to simply pick their friends from the opposition benches and appoint them to the cabinet unless the parties to which these individuals belong to and on whose platform they were elected fully agree to work with the government.
What the president and his allies are allowed to do under the law is to persuade individual members or even the whole opposition parties to vote with the government on specific bills, something for which the members need no authorization from their party hierarchy. But Kenyans are so used to the Narc government making a mockery of our laws that nobody really cares how many MPs Kibaki and his friends want to poach from the opposition. To the best of our knowledge they deserve each other.
Sometimes I get baffled; why are we fighting so hard to get a new set of laws to govern the country when our government shows us daily that they really don’t give a damn about obeying the existing laws? Wouldn’t we be better off trying to get the government to obey the existing laws rather than waste time fighting for a new constitution which if we go by the contempt the present government has shown for the laws of the land, nobody is going to follow. In parliament, for example, all the government needs is to put the Speaker of the House in their pockets like they have done in all the forty years of our independence to ensure that parliamentary laws remain the joke they have been all along.
For example if Biwott and his group have ditched the party, Kanu, that sponsored them to parliament and have now formed and joined a new party whatever its name, the law requires that they resign from parliament and seek re-election on their new party’s platform. If you are waiting for House Speaker Francis Ole Kaparo to enforce that law, welcome back from Pluto.
The real issue though is that by his very actions, President Kibaki has demonstrated to the nation that he obviously is no longer interested in what happens under his present regime. He is already convinced that Kenyans are too timid to really challenge his misrule and betrayal in his current term in office. To that effect many things are already in motion and not just the invitation of Biwott and company as some sections of the media have implied.
For example, one of President Kibaki’s buddies, the Minister in charge of internal security Mr. John Michuki is in full gear creating his own provinces and districts to be rubberstamped by parliament. The same Michuku is set to revive the despised Chief’s Act used by people like Michuki himself, who worked for the wabeberu, to destroy the Mau Mau movement and later by successive Kenyan independent governments to sustain repression and rig elections. Never mind that we are supposed to be discussing a new constitution that addresses all these issues and more.
Let me say that in principle I am a great supporter of equitable representation in our administrative boundaries but like millions of other Kenyans I am totally opposed to colonial structures of unelected, unaccountable PCs, DCs, DOs, Chiefs and Assistant Chiefs re-trained or not operating as regional and local dictators lording it over the people of Kenya on behalf the King at State House.
At any rate Kenyans including Michuki and President Kibaki himself already gave their views on the structures of administration to the CKRC which have no doubt been captured on the Bomas Draft. So it is obvious to Kenyans the kind of games being played when the president and his men are now bypassing that carefully negotiated process to try and impose their wishes on Kenyans. Let’s see if the people of Kenya will be that easy to fool with a few goodies of people having their own little new province or district here and there. Good luck Mzee.
The important message here to Kenyan is that the Kibaki folks have already made up their minds to scuttle the new constitution and are treating the Kenyan people as bunch of spineless morons who will follow Mzee in whatever direction he takes even if it is against the interests of those very Kenyans. I tend to hold quite a different view about Kenyans. I am convinced we are a nation of very smart and savvy people who sometimes easily lull our leaders to sleep thinking they got us where they want us only to realise too late that they had it all wrong.
In my opinion we have to place the Kibaki shopping spree for like minded tribal figureheads within the context of 2007 elections, which they have decided and are scheming to ensure, are carried out in an atmosphere where crude tribal alliances and even rigging through the Provincial Administration machinery are the determining factor on who wins.
Kibaki and his group have now publicly abandoned and are busy trashing the dream of Kenyans when they elected Narc with the express mandate to dismantle tribal cleavages and build a nation united in its diversity with a common vision as one people with one destiny. These noble and patriotic goals that Kenyans flirted with for a month or so of intense political realignments in 2002 have been sacrificed to satisfy the ambitions and probably greed of a handful of former home-guards and their off-springs who represent the cream of the neo-colonial operatives who have acquired massive wealth as a prize for betraying their people and their hopes. Koigi Wamwere, the MP for Sobukia is very right in his statement to the Sunday Standard, April 24, 2005 when he says that Kibaki has decided to surround himself with the filthy rich of our country and rule for the rich.
President Kibaki is now fishing in the filthy waters of tribalism and is prepared to feed Kenyans with whatever fish he can scoop from the dirt. Never mind that such fish might be contaminated and might cause the populace massive constipations and even fatal diarrhoea if not outright cholera. As an avid fisherman myself, let me caution the president that sometimes you might think you caught the big one and be shaking with excitement pulling your catch on the rope from under the water only to be shocked to see a tortoise hooked on your line. That can make you very mad, particularly when you have to unhook the stubborn tortoise. It might be okay if one is a tortoise eater, but most Kenyans aren’t. Anyway my point is that if Kenyans are foolish enough to gobble the poisoned garbage the president is feeding them with from the stinky waters of tribal politics who can blame him. The president is only human and is doing what is good for him. My guess is that Kenyans can only choke on so much contaminated stuff before they say enough is enough.
Leading columnists like Mutahi Ngunyi for example in Sunday Nation April 24, 2005 have referred to the new tribal tactics of the ruling elite as brilliant politics.
According to Mr. Ngunyi, someone like Biwott is going to be handy in teaching Kibaki and his crew what he referred to as “dirty politics’ and “rogue tactics” to enable them capture power again in 2007. Some brilliance indeed!!!.
Doesn’t Mr. Ngunyi’s theory sound the same as the bravado we hard twenty years ago when students were being jailed, tortured and lecturers detained for denouncing Kanu’s one party rule? Didn’t we hear politicians and newspaper commentators cheering as the so-called Mwakenya dissidents disappeared some never to be traced. Politicians, some in power today, cheered and warned us not to be foolish enough as to challenge the wazees in power. Well guess what, when the shit hit the roof as they say, it is not just the students and the dissidents who suffered and paid the prize, no, the whole nation went to the dump and even the likes of Kibaki, Njenga Karume, Michuki, and later folks like Nyachae were forced to jump ship when the landing was a lot safer. So I beg to be forgiven for doubting the wisdom of anointing aggressive tribalism as ‘realpolitik”
For those already celebrating Kibaki’s 2007 re-election as well as the scuttling of our hard fought constitutional review process and projecting the victory of His Excellency George Saitoti in 2012, a word of caution might be in order. As late as June 2002, all our brilliant analysts and commentators were convinced Kanu had a lock on the presidency. Look what happened in just two months to turn all those “brilliant tactics” upside down.
And guess who was the supposed to be one of the chief architects of the express road to State House then in June of 2002? Yap, you got it right, the same “guru” now enjoying the intense courtship of our president. Karl Marx must have had Kenya in mind when he made that haunting statement about history repeating itself in dialectical dimensions as opposed to the static hopes of our visionless leaders.
For participants in and students of history like me, there is nothing happening in Kenya today that we haven’t seen before and certainly nothing that we have not been warning Kenyans about for the last year and a half.
It is sad to tell Kenyans, particularly our fellow human rights activists and the so-called reform minded MPs (don’t laugh), that we told you so. But anybody who cared to look into the endless machinations of the president and his handlers saw this mess coming a long time ago. The consequences are going to be dire for everyone even those who think they have it all figured out.
For those in their seventies they may not live to see the implosion of their dastardly actions as they to try to cling on to power till their dying days. RIP wazee when the time comes but for the rest of the country let there be no doubt that when Kenyans finally decide to wrest the tribal monster to the ground again it will make the Rainbow movement that swept Kanu out of power look like a children’s picnic at the Nairobi Park. I have more sympathy for those in my generation and younger generation who are too clogged up to grasp the reality and are busy supporting this tribal outfit running the country today and they are many. For them we share the same destiny and we will have to sort things out as time progresses.
There is no doubt in my mind that we are going to solve this chronic problem of treachery and betrayal in our life time. We are not passing it over to the next generation. That much I know and the accumulated lessons of being cheated over and over again as a people and a nation is going to come very handy when the time comes to put this nonsense to rest.
Kenyans have been robbed of their rightful heritage to build a nation twice, the first in 1963 and the second in 2002. I doubt there will be a third time. Like I predicted before, the mercenaries in power today have a maximum of ten years to continue robbing and cheating the nation of its destiny. It could be much sooner than that so don’t get too comfortable.
Like in all revolutions, it is not going to be in one huge explosion as some people think, but a culmination of the little actions and real struggles that are going on even as we speak and which I have no doubt are going to intensify as Kibaki and his crew tighten the screws of tribal power grab on the country.
My fellow Kenyans we have exciting and dangerous times ahead of us. Let us all play our little parts and see how the far the tribal power mongers are prepared to go to keep our nation and its people under their boots. It is not going to happen for too long. History testifies to that.
Lastly, could Mr. Murungi, please publish the Constitutional Amendment Act of 2004. The Act has been signed into law by the president. What is the government afraid of? Everybody knows the Act is headed to the constitutional courts, so let’s get on with it and see which way things fall. It may be your lucky day, Mr. Minister. Then again things might just not work out. Or maybe the government is hoping that our new Chief Justice, he of the “radical surgery” in the Judiciary, is going to ensure that any case filed that threatens the interests of his buddies in government is not heard until the year 2012. We will see, but some us are getting concerned that constitutional cases filed more than a year ago are stuck in the system even though the cases were filed on urgency notices from the High Court. What is going on Mr. Chief Justice? It looks like are going to need another major surgery in the Judiciary to get in the right direction. It took demonstrations to get rid of the mighty Ben Chunga who knows what is in store for our new Chief justice if he starts playing political games.
The writer is a human rights activist