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Opinion on Raila

Kenya needs an inclusive system of leadership  Published on September 28, 2007, 12:00 am   By Joel M Ngugi  

In Kenya, we take politics seriously: perhaps too seriously. Taking politics too seriously can be hazardous: it makes it hard for people to engage on the (de)merits of particular political choices.

If we are to overcome our national ethnically partisan political positions, we must start publicly rationalising the choices we make. The following thoughts are offered in this spirit.  Let us imagine a Raila presidency – an imagination backed by a pragmatically clear-eyed rather than romantic or idealistic analysis.  A Raila presidency would represent, not a loss for Kibaki, only a victory for Kenya. The losers would be the power-mongers around President Kibaki. Without trashing the Kibaki regime, and even while applauding its successes, we could reasonably conclude that Kenyans should think about giving Raila a chance, on the basis of three key issues. 

First, there is the need to accelerate the path of economic prosperity of the last five years.

Kenya has prospered moderately under the Kibaki regime. Some say that this prosperity has come in spite of the Kibaki regime. 

Nonetheless, there are many economic governance decisions made correctly, which chiefly account for the economic growth.

But we can, and should do better. Some of the current regime’s missteps in economic governance are legendary. They include Anglo Leasing and failure to adequately provide for key infrastructural needs such as arterial roads.  With another Kibaki presidency, we are unlikely to see much radical change in economic governance. But with the key decisions made under Kibaki, a new president stands a better chance of deepening the reforms. This is a case for a new president, with a pat on the back to the outgoing President for a job well, but not excellently, done. 

Second, the opportunity to construct an autochthonous mechanism for sharing national wealth, across regions and classes, that will supplement without supplanting the on going economic prosperity.

We must guard against the likely righteous but deeply disruptive politics that might discourage continued investment. 

Thus, we must simultaneously encourage economic growth while putting in place effective mechanisms for sharing that prosperity. Raila’s articulated social democratic ideology is useful.

This is not to say that Raila’s political ideology will become policy upon election. But political ideology matters.  

While Kibaki’s mainly neo-classical sensibilities will take care of the front-end of things (economic development);

Raila’s social democratic sensibilities will take care of the back-end of things (social co-operation and cohesion and other mechanisms for managing social conflicts and reducing moral hazards). Third, we must imagine the possibility and promise of national healing. Ethnic cleavage has deepened during the Kibaki regime. We cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend that we will become a nation by default.  We must make political choices that will take us there. The elections provide Kenyans with an opportunity to begin a post-tribal political discourse. By such a discourse, I mean, not a politics where ethnic affiliation and tribal identity miraculously become extinct, but one where individuals can think across ethnic affiliations in a socially rational way that serves national cohesion.   In such a dispensation, people make political decisions based on a complex matrix in which the conflicting and competing interests are important but not necessarily decisive.  

A necessary first step is a Raila presidency. Because of Kenya’s unique tribal politics, Raila will be a powerful symbol that we are in a new post-tribe era.

This is not because Raila is a saintly anti-tribal leader. Rather, it is because, if Raila is to be elected president, it will be in spite of his tribe. This, in itself, would be a first step. Secondly, and controversially, a Luo presidency will put to rest the idea that some Kenyans cannot be president.  

A Raila presidency would likely re-align political and economic forces, making tribe less of a factor in politics.

This is because, despite his progressive ethos, Raila is a hardcore entrepreneur, unlikely to destroy the economic base but is likely to forge class-based alliances across the political divide. In any event, short of assuming draconian dictatorial powers, president Raila will not afford complacency: he would be facing well-heeled political opponents with a solid economic base and who would keep his government on its toes. What does this mean for Raila and his handlers? He must change his campaign emphasis; free it from the perception that it is anti-Gema, and transform it to be one of ideology and national healing. He must energise his supporters in spite of, not because of their anti-Gema sentiments. He must address economics beyond the vaguely unhelpful incantations that the national cake is not equitably distributed.  He must tell Kenyans how he will keep the modest prosperity going while re-orienting the national legal baseline to one that permits productive redistribution of national resources. Differently put, Raila must start speaking the language of national healing, reconciliation, and the classic feature of a virtuous welfare state: the promise to use organised State power to moderately modify the play of market forces to guarantee the lower classes social inclusion and some minimum resources irrespective of the value that the market places on their labour and goods. The writer is an assistant Professor of Law at the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. 


About SG

Secretary general of Chama Cha Mwananchi. This blog www.chamachamwananchi.wordpress.com, is based in Sweden.


One thought on “Opinion on Raila

  1. Leo If you listened to kissfm you hear raila say it Jua Kali is breeding poverty .And no criminals will be charged with theft so what change is raila talking about .if Anglo leasing people ,Goldenberg people will remain free then how different is that from Kenya today .What makes an odm government even worse is the fact that now raila has declared war on small scale businessmen and women ,First it was the stock exchange investors now it is the jua kali man and woman . what more evidence do people want .Straight from the horses mouth .

    Raila and Odm are promising heaven and earth but the realities for Kenyans who fall for them will be disastrous .the other day I heard a joke that has been circulating on the web about an odm supporter who died . When he died he arrived at the gates of heaven ,Saint peter looked for his name and couldn’t find it . so he said we seem to have a glitch your name isn’t here , you should have gone to hell but you ended up here .

    so this is what we will do you will spend 24 hours in hell and 24 hours in heaven ,then you can decide where you want to go .The odm supporter objected but saint peter told him we have rules here .we have to do what I told you . so saint peter took the odm supporter to hell.When they arrived the place wasn’t like the odm supporter thought it would be .The place looked beautiful, there was free food,free rent songs and dance even raila was there ,drinks to go all around and even a clubhouse.Leaders in hell were funny and the entertained the crowds that were in hell .People danced made merry all night ,Everyone was happy .24 hours went by so fast that when saint peter came the odm supporter didn’t want to go .

    Rules are rules my man lets go -you have to go to heaven before you make a choice .On arrival in heaven things were ok ,people were happy though it wasn’t as exciting as hell. the mood was good but things seemed kind of slow compared to hell.The odm supporter though settled and enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere and 24 hours passed. Saint peter came and asked the odm supporter ok you have seen both sides tell me which one do you want to go to.

    The odm supporter said I would have never thought of saying this but I choose to go to hell!

    OK saint peter said lets go so he pushed the elevator button and the went to hell .upon arrival the odm supporter was shocked .Hell was looking grim the people were in rags and they were hungry, the place smelled and garbage was strewn all over ,there were flying toilets and rapes ,violence and all sorts of things . Saint peter quickly shut the door and left the odm supporter ,The odm supporter started complaining I was here yesterday everything was fine the people were happy the place was clean there was free rent ,food and drink this is not the same .At this point RAILA(The Devil) put his hands around the odm supporter and said .


    Think before you vote ODM!

    Posted by mogi | October 10, 2007, 6:32 pm

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