Saturday, July 23, 2005

Did Someone Bribe Kaparo, Kombo, Muite and Obwocha?


1.0. Bigging Up Maddo, Gado, Terry & Other Kenyan Political Cartoonists

from the Standard of Saturday, July 23, 2005

"Ours is to caricature people, politicians especially. But this doesn't mean that government officers should come after us with big sticks. Nor should newspapers editors manipulate us.."

- Kenyan cartoonist Maddo (Paul Kelemba)

Sometimes the most brilliant, the most militant and the most incisive political commentary in the Kenya is not to be found on the columns of well-known pundits but rather in the artistic spaces provided for cartoonists like

Paul Kelemba aka "Maddo" and his "greatest rival" and business partner
Godfery Mwampembwa aka "Gado"

I had a chance to hang out with both of these funny and intelligent guys one evening in mid October 2003 at the Sunset Grill opposite the Nairobi Central Police station. Tabu Osusa, the veteran bandleader who runs the Nairobi Ensemble and is the brains behind the newish Kete Bul studio brought all of us together. I found out that the Sunset Grill is a bohemian oasis with a truly cosmopolitan's panache- there was a German jazz musician, a South Asian writer, folks like

Suzzana Owiyo and other musicians and artists making it their hang out place. Paul is a born stand up comic and he had us in stitches with his spontaneous skits- and dead on mimicry. Gado, who is a transplanted Tanzanian is more reserved, but will occasionally unleash a one liner that makes you go- wow.

Because of strips like "Juha Kalulu" and so on, we have come to associate cartoonists with mindless buffoonery- yet in virtually all newspapers around the world, cartoonists are usually displayed on the most powerful page in the newspaper- the editorial page with all the leader articles, editorials and other targetted comment calculated to catch the eye of the powerful.

I think that the "Maddos" and the "Gados" deserve proper props because frequently they say things that their fellow scribes find too sensitive.

Did you know that some people actually credit Paul Kelemba with coining the phrase "kitu kidogo" in the early 1990s? Some may argue otherwise...

Check out what Gado drew TODAY(July 23, 2005) to grasp the point I am trying to make:

Here is a link to an interview that CNN did with Gado.

You can see more

of Gado's work if you visit his site.

The two cartoonists are very highly regarded and respected within the broader Kenyan civil society and NGO sector as you can glean from this UNHCR report where they were invited to go refugee camps to inspire the youth.

Here is a longer tribute to Maddo, Gado and other Kenyan cartoonists that appeared in a South African publication about six years ago.

It is inspiring to see that these widely respected East African artists and political commentators have inspired
a younger generation of cartoonists like this one.

But let us remember that before Gado, before Madd, there was

Terry Hirst (he of Joe Magazine fame- Moi deported him for a while in the 1980s even though he is a Kenyan of European extraction) who used to head the Arts department at Kenyatta University in the 1960s and illustrated Pamela Ogot's East African Why and East African How Stories which came out in 1966; a contemporary of Terry was Edward Gitau who brought us Juha Kalulu which used to be carried in Taifaleo from 1973. And Gitau's character was in turn a spinoff from "Juha Kasembe" that was created by Peter Paulo Kasembe in Tanzania in the 1950s.

2.0. Was Money "Poured" to Kaparo, Kombo, Muite and Obwocha?

According to a well-placed source in Nairobi, the "victory" of NAK in pushing through recommendations for a dictatorial Imperial Presidency may have been secured after a few parliamentary palms were greased.

Kenya Democracy Project wants to relay the following account without vouching for its veracity. At this point we are still investigating this startling claim:

Apparently "money has been poured."

The story goes that

Francis Ole Kaparo, the Speaker of the National Assembly was given Kshs. 1.8 million; that

FORD-Kenya leader Musikari Kombo received KShs. 800,000; that Safina chief

Paul Muite was swung Kshs. 400,000 and that

Henry Obwocha, FORD-People MP and Nyachae sidekick walked away with KShs. 240,000- all these financial shenanigans allegedly as a bribe to ensure the victory of the Kibaki/Kiraitu forces during the just concluded elections.

It is being claimed that this muthendi apparently is part of a Kshs. 2.5 Billion stash of shady buganas somehow linked to the furore of the De La Rue currency controversy that has been extensively followed by many Kenyan pundits and commentators.

At this point I am just relaying these allegations. Living here in Quebec, I cannot vouch for that information either way- I do not know whether it is true; I would be foolhardy if I tried to argue the opposite- that this is definitely not true.

It is certainly a very serious series of allegations that bear further investigations.

3.0. Dissecting The Voting Patterns in the Kenya Parliament on July 21, 2005

Let us forget the above section for a second- or at least swallow it with a huge salt shaker by our side. Kenyans have some of the most creative minds and those alleged payouts and kickbacks may turn out to be the stuff of fantasy-if I did not know my source to be a serious, highly sober individual, I would have consigned the story to the headlines that are usually manufactured at the Hotel Ambassadeur.

In any case, why don't we try and analyze the way the various parties and MPs voted WITHOUT factoring in any real or imagined money exchanging hands.

Here is how the Standard breaks it down.

What was SIGNIFICANT for me was to see how some presumed "reformers" voted when it finally came down to the brass tacks:

1. Our Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai voted with the government;
2. Chief Campaigner for the Wanjiku Prof. Kivutha Kibwana voted with the government;
3.Two time detainee and occasional NAK gadfly Koigi wa Wamwere voted with the government;
4. FORD-Kenya led by Musikari Kombo voted as a bloc-with the exception of
Prof Christine Mango (Butula);
5. FORD-People with the notable exception of Ndugu Mwandawiro Mghanga voted as a bloc
6.KANU's vote was the most splintered: Uhuru ducked the vote; the 3 Marsabit MPs were conveniently being grilled in northern Kenya; Biwott and some of his boys backed NAK; others abstained and the majority voted against the government;
7.LDP largely voted as a bloc even though up to 10 and as many as 15 with the prominent example of Musyoka abstained;
8. In the NAK camp, cabinet minister Anyang' Nyongo voted against the government and assistant minister Mungatana abstained;

In the end, the NAK side prevailed.

However what they won was a pyrrhic victory even by their own terms. A big chunk of the Kilifi Draft was thrown out and the whole process raised the spectre of multiple legal challenges.

Let us examine the 8 bullet points in some detail:

1. Our Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai voted with the government;


I think her primary motivation is driven by her future political ambitions. It is only a matter of time before she is elevated to a full cabinet position and she may even be contemplating another run at the Presidency- being with the government is the safest bet.

2. Chief Campaigner for the Wanjiku Prof. Kivutha Kibwana voted with the government;


Kivutha Kibwana hates Raila more than he loves Wanjiku. He could also be part of an emerging Ukambani bloc that is still trying to wrangle whether their leader should be Charity or Kalonzo.

3.Two time detainee and occasional NAK gadfly Koigi wa Wamwere voted with the government;

Koigi wa Wamwere is chafing at the passover feast Kibaki has been been presenting to him consistently-as in passing him over. He wants to have a flag on his guzzler. He cannot understand why his protege, Mirugi is a powerful assistant minister while he, Koigi, remains a mere MP.

4. FORD-Kenya led by Musikari Kombo voted as a bloc-with the exception of Prof Christine Mango (Butula);


First of all let us give kudos and vigelegele to Prof. Christine Mango for voting with her conscience rather than her tumbo. She is a true example of what a people's mjumbe.

As for Dereva Kombo and the rest of the FORD-K team:

Ubarakala is the Kiswahili word for "opportunism." Msaliti means "traitor". Kibaraka is a puppet in the same widely spoken African tongue. If a brand new illustrated Kiswahili-English dictionary came out tomorrow, you would find the face of Musikari Kombo explaining all three words. Yaani,it is precisely because of the spinelessness, the flip flopping and the shamelessness of the Musikari Kombos of the world that makes people all over the world PUKE when they hear the word "politician". It is because of the sheer lack of principle of people like Kombo that some of us, no matter how POLITICAL we are, we would S-H-U-D-D-D-D-E-R-R-R with disgust B-R-R-R-R-R-R!!!! if you ever deigned to label us as "politicians"-I remain a POLITICAL ACTIVIST to you, thank you very much. Mainstream politics in Kenya would not be mainstream politics if it did not have vibaraka, vibarakala na wasaliti FROM EACH AND EVERY NATIONALITY, REGION and ETHNIC GROUP like Musikari Kombo- thoroughly three faced horse trading political prostitutes waiting eagerly in the corridors of power looking for paymasters to pick them up for a cheap evening thrill where they offer their services at a discount. I have some friends who are staunch members and/or supporters of FORD-Kenya who will flatly deny it outright if you "accused" them of having anything to do with the outfit that Musikari Kombo heads. Almost exactly a year ago on August 4, 2004 here is how I described the FORD-K head honcho:

"...Among the Abaluhyia elite, confusion reigns. Common sense would have suggested that the Luhyia elite unite around Moody Awori while working out an Intra-Ingo MOU about who would be who in the whole Machiavellian machinations of which Luhyia should go after the number two slot. From the look of things, the ambitious Mukhisa Kituyi is still smarting after being outsmarted by the thoroughly spineless Musikari Kombo in the recent Ford-K sweepstakes. Kituyi’s trump card may be to wean the Biwott faction away from KANU to bolster his standing in NAK proper before making his own move which may be more like the Kingmaker role of Raila in 2002 rather than embarrassing himself in an electoral contest where victory is precluded because of his widespread ill reputation as an arrogant son of a gun. Kombo like I said, is a Dereva Kombo who is going kombo kombo and will land fatally in a ditch together with his co-driver Dr. Bonny Khalwale within the course of the next eighteen months. Martin Shikuku’s attempt to cobble Katiba Watch into a negotiating vehicle to re-enter the Kenyan political mainstream will be thwarted by his own myopia. I predict that the next political superstar in Luhyia land is not even in mainstream politics yet-I am talking about the youthful Ababu Namwamba. He is the person to watch and one of the most likely to emerge as a NATIONAL political figure over the next four years. He is principled, gutsy, patriotic and from the look of things, above ethnic parochialism. Another person to watch is Professor Oniango..."


Once again to emphasize, there are vibaraka, vibarakala na wasaliti FROM EACH AND EVERY NATIONALITY, REGION and ETHNIC GROUP in Kenya. I could name one prominent politician for each tribe in Kenya so please let us NOT even go there. I am underlining this because I saw some LUO CHAUVINISTS ranting and raving about a certain ethnic group, casting aspersions, slandering and trashing millions of Kenyans whose only "crime" is the biological accident of being born in the same community as Political Opportunist X.

To give further context of what I am trying to say, here is an excerpt from a digital essay I wrote on January 20, 2005:

...having said all that, one must also acknowledge that the current courtship between

the big cheese at LDP, NPK and FORD-K looks to me very much like a second date from hell.

Was it not just a month ago that Musikari Kombo was calling Raila Odinga a shameless liar? And was it not too long ago that Charity Ngilu unleashed a stream of obscenities against the Roads and Public Works minister during a cabinet meeting? And who was that, if it was not Raila Odinga denigrating the upstart Mungatana?

Mainstream Kenyan politicking is underscored by its shameless opportunistic flip flops. These guys were born without a political backbone I tell you. Sometimes when I look at these wanasiasa, they remind me of cattle rustlers who assemble at three o'clock in the morning near River Yala to divvy up the livestock they stole from neighbouring villages. So in a sense Ngilu, Raila, Kombo, Mungatana and company are trying to decide how many goats are going to Bungoma, how many donkeys are going to Tana River, how many sheep are going to Bondo and how many bulls will end up in Ukambani.

Quite simply, these Kenyan politicians- Raila, Kombo, Ngilu etc- distrust and cannot stand each other. Kombo was probably the most honest when he publicly stated that he does not trust the de facto LDP leader...


But why is Onyango Oloo going off on Musikari Kombo with such a freshly sharpened shoka?

Well, contemplate the following famous last words of the FORD- Kenya leader:

Webuye MP Musikari Kombo (Ford-Kenya) said: "I really hope that my colleagues will do their job of legislating and being truly a bridge between the Executive and the people."

He adds: "In doing this job, I hope my colleagues will ignore the rantings of the Executive."
quoted in Daily Nation, Sunday, March 18, 2001

...Mr Kombo reminded the elected leaders, especially Cabinet ministers and their assistants against behaving like political activists while they had made a lot of promises to Kenyans.

"Political leaders should not behave like activists or as bosses but as people's servants who were elected by them,'' he said...

quoted in Daily Nation, Monday, December 22, 2003

...Cabinet Minister Musikari Kombo has asked legislators who had dissenting views concerning the constitutional review process to embrace dialogue, noting that confrontation will only plunge the country into chaos.

Kombo, who was addressing mourners during the burial of 89 year old Lichuma Mutali, at Lugulu in his Webuye constituency said the contentious sections within the draft constitution were sneaked in by leaders who fronted their own interests during the Bomas seatings...

cited in report by Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, Friday, July 2, 2004

...Regional Development minister Musikari Kombo attributed problems facing Bomas to outside forces. He was speaking to journalists at the opening of Gachuhe Orthodox Church in Mukurwe-ini...
quoted in Daily Nation, January 26, 2004

Ford Kenya chairman Musikari Kombo yesterday dismissed the recent Narc retreat held in Mombasa as inconsequential.

Kombo said those who attended the retreat did so on individual basis and cannot now claim to have arrived at resolutions on behalf of the ruling coalition.

On reports that the position of Narc party leader created for President Kibaki during the Mombasa retreat should not be contested during the Narc party elections next year, Kombo said the party has no structures in place to even have such a position.

"We have no Narc structure. One group should not therefore sit down and arrogate itself the role of creating the position of party leader without getting the views and approval of other corporate members," he said.

The Ford-K boss who is the minister for Local Government said parties that make up the coalition came in as corporate entities, a scenario which has to remain up to 2007.

He said what this means was that should any decision be made in the ruling coalition, all corporate members must sit and agree as equal partners.

Kombo was addressing pressmen yesterday at Webuye after the launch of Nzoia Water Services Company by the Minister for Water Resources, Martha Karua. An assistant minister in the ministry, Major (rtd) Aden Sugow, represented Karua at the function.

Kombo reiterated that all corporate members in Narc have an equal stake and cautioned those dictating terms for others to stop the habit.

Bumula MP Silvestor Wakoli had earlier on warned that Ford-K was ready to move out of Narc due to dictatorship in the ruling coalition.

"We can leave even today. Our support for this government does not mean that we are cowards," said Wakoli.

from the Standard, December 6, 2004

Three Cabinet Ministers yesterday termed the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Kanu leaders as "undemocratic losers".

The ministers said had Roads minister Raila Odinga and the Leader of the Official Opposition, Uhuru Kenyatta, attended the retreat, the outcome would have been different.

Ministers Amos Kimunya, Musikari Kombo and Newton Kulundu expressed optimism that amendments made by 113 MPs who met for two days at Sun and Sand Hotel, Kilifi, would pass in Parliament.

"How do you call yourself a democrat when you refuse to attend such a retreat to air your views and express your point?" posed Kombo.

The ministers told Kenyatta, Odinga, other LDP and Kanu members and Kenyatta to be prepared to pass the amended draft constitution.

Kombo said LDP and Kanu leaders were "cowards and not democrats" who would lose in the end.

The ministers spoke yesterday in telephone interviews.

"I did not agree with a powerless prime minister. I argued my case and lost. Had several voices supported me, maybe the outcome would have been different," said Kombo.

from the Standard, July 19, 2005

Ford Kenya chairman Musikari Kombo marshalled his troops to vote for the report. On this vote, he agreed with even his enemies in the party, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi and Dr Newton Kulundu.

Prof Christine Mango (Butula) was the only party member who voted against the report.

from the Standard, July 23, 2005

I rest my case.

Moving right along...

5. FORD-People with the notable exception of Ndugu Mwandawiro Mghanga voted as a bloc


Two line answer: FORD-People is Nyachae's conduit for promoting his hand-picked representatives of the Abagusii elite to be entrenched within the Kenyan government.Mwandawiro is a political orphan once again.

6.KANU's vote was the most splintered: Uhuru ducked the vote; the 3 Marsabit MPs were conveniently being grilled in northern Kenya; Biwott and some of his boys backed NAK; others abstained and the majority voted against the government;


KANU, just like the former ruling party in apartheid South Africa, is a party in atrophy. The old guard represented by Nicholas Biwott want to hang on to their wealth by cutting deals with the parvenu fat cats in NAK; William Ruto is going to emerge as the true leader of KANU in about a year and a half and Uhuru Kenyatta ducked the vote because he may run for the Presidency in 2007-as a NAK candidate. I think he is secretly cutting deals with Kibaki, Kiraitu and the rest of the andu aitu cabal-which would explain his rather convenient trip to Marsabit on the eve of two defining happenings- the anti-NAK mass action and the crucial voting on the Kilifi Draft. I take back my effusive praise of Uhuru Kenyatta recently. The man is more concerned about maintaining the mega fortune of the Kenyatta family and he may have decided that he does not want to antagonize powerful members of his ethnic group any further. I could be wrong, but that is how I am reading the tea leaves at this very moment(7:08 am, Saturday, July 23, 2005). I think the idea of dispatching the three Marsabit MPs to their home district was a deliberate ruse by the Kibaki regime to disorient and thin the numbers of MPs available in Nairobi to vote on the controversial Kilifi Draft. Like I said, William Ruto is emerging as the true leader of the "new" KANU. Let us see how long his alliance with Uhuru Kenyatta will last...

7.LDP largely voted as a bloc even though up to 10 and as many as 15 with the prominent example of Musyoka abstained;


LDP is a party in disintegration. Starting with a numerical strength of 57 after the elections, they have already lost Moody Awori, Ntimama, Kilimo Ali Mwakwere,Koigi wa Wamwere, Wangari Maathai, Raphael Tuju, Mutiso Mutinda and a few other MPs to NAK. A US-based friend of mine, Papa F offers the following comment:

De FACTO vs De JURE "LDP Family"
From: Papa F - Sat, Jul 23, 10:17 AM

OO and any analysts,

If you remember the MOU fracas, LDP did say
that they commanded a majority in NARC, and they
did document that LDP had 57 MPs in the LDP
Family. I have no reason to challenge those

What has happened from 2002?
Like KANU the LDP party has suffered from "political
hemmorrhage" over the years. Some of its MP's
(Like its 10 of its 17 flag carrying waziris)have
moved like "shifting sands" to the NAK side. And while
Raila has maintained a "strangle-hold" on LDP in
"LUO NYANZA" (my apologies) LDP loyalty elsewhere
has not been 100% reliable.

Effectivly a safe bet of what LDP's strength in Bunge
is really like I would say that LDP (Saitoti, Chebii
Kilimo, Tuju, Moody awori, and William Ole Ntimama
are ALL LDP MPs) is down to about 40. And of these
40 MPs about 6 or 7 abstained the vote (and poor
Godana had to be interrogated on the day of the vote).

Bottom Line
What is LDP? What was LDP in 2002 and what is LDP
in 2005? A lot has happened...

Ndugu OO, put your "numerical analysis" in this context.


People should not be shocked if a new Kamba based "super party" fronted by Charity Ngilu, Kalonzo Musyoka and Kivutha Kibwana is formed towards the end of 2006 with Kalonzo Musyoka the Presidential candidate for this new outfit. Contrary to what he was saying to explain why he did not vote the other day- I am thinking it had more to do with some secret handshake with Charity that Kalonzo not to be seen to be voting WITH Raila Odinga on this crucial day. I am sure people will jump up and down trying to throttle me, but hey, I am entitled to my own off-the wall opinions ama namna gani wananchi wenzangu? Me thinks that LDP should let Kalonzo go and bring in Mwandawiro instead.

8. In the NAK camp, cabinet minister Anyang' Nyongo voted against the government and assistant minister Mungatana abstained;


Anyang' Nyongo was doing two things simultaneously- voting with his democratic conscience and also covering his political derriere as far as Nyanza electoral politics is concerned. Mungatana has realized that the Kibakites will never elevate him to a full cabinet minister and that is why his ferocious barking has thankfully piped down. The fish eating crocodile is these days a devoted vegan. The DP faction in NAK is brimming with arrogant overconfidence thinking they have "won" the battle to consolidate GEMA political supremacy in the country. The formation of MEGA and such subliminal moves as reintroducing the old Mzee banknotes is a subtle message to the wider Nyoomba flock that hey, andu aitu is back in the driver's seat and no one is taking them from the feeding trough for another twenty years. Is this a realistic possibility or a myopic tribal fantasy? The answer will unfold within the next six to eight months. A key indicator will be the outcome of the referendum. Quite frankly I will be quite surprised to see a pro-Kibaki referendum passing democratically at the Coast, in Nyanza, North Eastern and the northern parts of Eastern, the Rift Valley, Kamba dominated Eastern province and in most parts of Western Province. It will be a constituency by constituency battle in Nairobi and Nakuru. The referendum will pass in Gatundu South.

4.0. So Where Does All This Mainstream Horse Trading Leave Wanjiku and the Zero Draft?

In a much better place than would seem apparent from the foregoing. Clearly, the wheat is being separated from the chaff as the Kenyan wananchi realize that mainstream politicians are not worth jack. The pieces of paper they used to promise to build bridges where there are no rivers(to paraphrase Soviet leader Nikita K.) are not even as useful as two ply toilet paper. The concrete material conditions have matured for the emergence of a made in Kenya Mseto, or United Democratic Front. Incidentally, way back on March 27, 2002 to be precise I did call on the then opposition leaders to come into a mseto that I called MDK to confront the New KANU. It seems such a long time, ama?

When I contemplate what is happening in our country, I am reminded of the situation in the South Korea national democratic movement. I tracked these Kenyan-Korean parallels almost two years ago in an essay entitled Visioning The New Kenya Movement Pt.1 thatwas posted on the Mashada forum on Wednesday, December 3, 2003 at 11:05 am :

...That was as far as theory went. As far as praxis, let us look at what happened in two distinct periods 1980 to 1987 and then 1987 to 1991.

In the early period, the main venues for recruiting Korean revolutionaries were universities. Revolutionary students trained new recruits to become professional revolutionaries through various activities including seminars(where first year students were introduced to critical studies of Korean contemporary history; by second year they had read a whole range of Marxist literature; banned books sold like hot cakes); illegal street demonstrations(“gatoo”) factory activity known as “konghwal” in which student members of underground groups were sent to the factories as temporary workers during school breaks) countryside activity( known as “nongwhal’- organized during the summer holidays when students organized ‘nongwhal” brigades to help farmers and also arranged political discussions and debates about government agricultural policies) and night-time activity( known as “yahak”, a practice that started in the late 1970s and was similar to nongwhal, but this time involving free classes given by revolutionary minded university students to factory workers- by 1980 300 yahak circles had formed the National Coalition of Labour Night Study Circles) and urban poor activity( known as “binwhal” that involved working with street vendors and squatters in fighting evictions, “beautification measures” and land development). In their final year, student revolutionaries were categorized into two- one group was for future labour activists and the second one was for leading cadres for student movements. It was considered a badge of honour among student revolutionaries of that period for one to become a factory worker. The act of going to the factory to become a professional revolutionary worker was called “Hyunjang-tooshin (total commitment to the workplace) or Jonjae-eejon (transcendence of social existence).

In 1987, the Korean revolutionaries faced one of their earliest major acid tests. Just like Kenya in the 90s, Korean political parties had engaged themselves from the mid 80s in debates over constitutional reform. Mi Park tells us what happened:

“…The main opposition party Shinmindang, argued for constitutional reforms to allow direct presidential elections. The ruling party decided to ban any discussion on constitutional issues until a successful completion of the 1988 Olympic Games. The government decision came when national discontent reached the highest point. It was a political miscalculation of the balance of contending forces…In January 1987, Park Chong-chul, a ND member of the Seoul National University had fallen victim to torture during a police interrogation. The public became enraged at the police brutality and the government’s attempt to cover up. In a series of national protests, hundreds and thousands took to the street and clashed with the police. Protest letters and statements condemning the police brutality poured in from all over society…Political tension, mass discontent and national protests were at the explosive point. In June 1987, about one million students and civilians (mainly small shop keepers and white-collar workers) participated in street demonstrations, what is now known as the Great June Struggle.”

The Jucheist/Maoist NL tendency saw the June struggle as an opportunity to expand democratic rights and expose US imperialist meddling with South Korean politics. NL’s slogans were in line with that of Jaeya, one of the major mainstream opposition parties and resonated with the majority of Korean wananchi. In contrast the more orthodox Marxist ND tendency defined the situation as a revolutionary one and called for the formation of a “revolutionary provisional government” and “constituent assembly”. The PD criticized the NL’s slogans as too narrow and the ND’s position as too abstract and ultra-left, calling instead for a democratic constitution.

Let us listen to Mi Park one more time:

“The Great June Struggle showed many signs of a revolutionary situation. The middle class turned against the government and took sides with protesting students. Although the middle class took sides with leftists students…their aim was limited and thus the alliance was temporary. The middle class and its political representative Jaeya and Kookbon sought to keep a distance from the leftist students. Stephen Cardinal Kim of the Catholic Church pleaded to students that they should shy away from ‘the left leaning radical ideology and cry of revolution’. The continuing mass participation throughout June made it very clear that the regime could not rule the way they were used to. A choice had to be made. A choice between partial reform or military intervention. During the critical days of June, the government deployed the troops around the major public buildings and seriously considered an option of another military crackdown. The ruling elite was split over how to deal with the situation. The June struggle eventually forced the regime to make some concessions. The government declared the 6.29 manifesto which promised a constitutional reform including a direct presidential election. Although the main active participants of the June demonstration were university students who were under the influence of mainly NL, once their demand for the direct presidential election (NL position) was met, they became politically disoriented. While revolutionaries dithered over what action to take, student protests gradually faded in importance and the movement lost ground. The following three months (July-September) after the 6.29 declaration saw the eruption of militant industrial actions by workers. Seizing the political opening created by the June Struggle, the workers went on strikes to demand higher wages, better working conditions, and the guarantee of democratic worker’s rights above all. The nation-wide workers’ industrial action caught most revolutionaries unprepared. Although revolutionaries played a pivotal role in bringing out this massive workers’ action for their basic labour rights, they were not capable of transforming workers’ illegal industrial action into a revolutionary uprising. ND was not functioning due to the arrest of its leaders. All three camps (NL, PD and ND) operated in small factory cells scattered around some key industrial cities. They did not have a national level political leadership which could coordinate activities of the revolutionaries during the critical July- September workers’ struggle. Their activities were local and confined to economic issues.”

The author then takes us through the second stage of the growth of the revolutionary movements in South Korea- a transition period between 1987 and 1992. This was a time marked by the mushrooming of mass democratic groups, sector specific formations, interest groups and social movement organizations. The state meanwhile, used a carrot and stick strategy trying to both co-opt and coerce its ideological adversaries. Under the Roh Tae Woo regime, all classes in South Korea became more assertive of their democratic rights. The military technocrats gradually lost much of their feared political clout. South Korean civil society groups became more vibrant and started OPPOSING the revolutionary movement with the direct and indirect sponsorship of the neocolonial regime. From 1987, all the major classes in South Korean society established mass organizations representing their interests. The class structure of the country had also changed significantly. By 1992, the Korean peasantry had declined to 13% of the population in comparison to 65% in 1960; by 1985 workers made up 43 of the population and by 1992, the Korean working class and the middle class together made a whopping 85% of the population. Between1987 and 1991, the working class in South Korea developed as a powerful social actor. The number of trade unions more than doubled from 2,725 in June 1987 to 7,358 by the end of 1989. There were 1,616 labour disputes in 1989 with the majority (68.5%) being declared illegal. Workers launched over 7,000 strikes between the summer of 1987 and late 1989 which roughly translates to 10 per day. At the same time, the number of white-collar workers and professionals increased, and with it, the growth of an affluent Korean middle class with increased consumer spending in its tow.

These changes in the class structure of South Korean society in the late 1980s and early 1990s had profound implications for the political struggle. It would be very prudent if Kenyan progressives, especially those active in civil society formations, paid close attention to the following extract:

“…The concerns of the middle class shifted from procedural democracy to quality of life. The previous regimes had a legitimacy problem but since after the 1987 election the legitimacy problem was solved. The government was no longer seen as an object to be overthrown. People, especially the middle class, were more concerned about issues such as culture, education, environmental issues, welfare and leisure. Against this background, middle class sponsored social movements grew rapidly…It was called the “shimin” (citizens) movement as opposed to the RMO (revolutionary movement organization) sponsored social movements (called “minjung” (oppressed people). The key organization of the middle class sponsored social movement was Kyungsilryun (the Citizen’s Alliance for Economic Justice). Shimin movement organizations contended that “public interests” should come first before any narrow class interests or the needs of certain groups. The criticized “violent” methods of the RMO sponsored minjung movement and instead argued for peaceful and practical methods. The (Korean) mass media and the government favoured movements like Kyungshilryun and actively sponsored them against the minjung movement. Before 1987 the RMO- sponsored minjung movement gained “automatic” moral support from the general populace since the previous regime came to power through illegitimate means…Political liberalization measures gave legal spaces for moderate social movement organizations while RMO-backed movements were suppressed. In this context, Minjung movement had to compete with shimin movements for their legitimacy and ideological justification...”


In my May Day digital I urged my compatriots kwamba, Tusikate Tamaa!

I have asked Kenyan progressives to look elsewhere if we are serious about People's Power suggesting that it was time the Kenyan Left formed its own political party; pondered about the state of the state in Kenya; wondered out loud about a Kenyan Zvakwana and mused wisftully about the Barghoutis of Kenya.

Given the fact that I recently declared that TUTASHINDA! Mpende Msipende!!, you know that there is very little to add to this long digital at this exact point in time...

Onyango Oloo

1 comment:

Afromusing said...

i immensely echo your appreciation of cartoonists, and the historical information was particularly eye opening.
just a little bitty suggestion, i think you have wonderful information and analysis, could you perhaps break it up into smaller blog posts,i think it will make your points clearer and easier not to miss.