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The euphoria is over; now the fear factor has kicked in

Publication Date: 3/14/2008

IT’S TRUE THAT THERE’S NEVER a dull moment in Kenyan politics. It is also true that our politicians have mastered the art of melodrama, so that even turning a simple stone can quickly degenerate into a huge falling out. 

Whoever gets to it first, whether the Orange Democratic Movement or the Party of National Unity, they can be sure the other side will take a jaundiced view of the stone — which could well be an aid to healing — and the country will come to a standstill as the matter is debated to an “nth”. 

Now it appears that even topnotch civil servants have waded into the national sport. Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura should know better than to join the club that has made a hobby of stirring political passions, shaking things up, and generally raising the hackles of long-suffering citizens. 

Isn’t this man well past the age at which people go home to look after their goats, anyway?

His workforce remains unstable in several parts of the country, many professionals having fled the violence that rocked the country to its core only recently. They are now queuing up for transfers. 

One thousand or so other Kenyans were not so lucky. They were tortured, shot in the back, hacked to death and burnt alive.

The horror that Kenya has gone through lately is not something to be trifled with, and we can only wonder at the man when he comes up with an interpretation of the peace accord that runs counter to what the average Kenyan believes. 

They did not pour into the streets and spend the night drinking (another national sport!) because a token agreement had been reached. 

Kofi Annan did not spend 42 days in Nairobi twiddling his thumbs and coming up with a document that any PNU factotum could have written with eyes closed.

Did Mr Muthaura read the national mood accurately before he went on air the other day with a Government line-up that appeared to shunt aside the 50-50 power-sharing pact that gives the position of prime minister a hefty amount of clout?

Now it appears that Mr Muthaura was only setting the stage for what appears to have been a dedicated onslaught on the pact. 

This week, an anonymous leaflet was planted in the pigeonholes of MPs urging caution on the key agreement of the Annan Accord — which was division of power between the President and the Prime Minister. 

The document came from the office of Government Chief Whip, George Thuo, who apologised to the House while claiming he did not know its origin.

This is not good enough. When I was knee-high to a grasshopper, there was a popular saying that “sorry” broke all the plates, cups or glasses in the Mzungu’s house. 

There’s too much at stake for anyone to casually brush aside these two incidents. 

WITH DUE RESPECT TO THOSE committed to sensible leadership, a woman can get to a point where she begins to believe that there are all too many busybodies who are determined to cling to power and position regardless of the cost to the country. 

On a good day, we might look upon them kindly and dismiss them as people who are simply driven by fear. 

But we don’t pay any of these chaps to spread fear and alarm arising from their insecurities. We expect them to provide leadership and direction in tune with the needs of the people, who are their true employers.

There are two kinds of fear ruling this country right now. There is the kind experienced by ordinary Kenyans who dread the idea of returning to the anarchy they’ve just gone through. 

They have learnt the hard way that your party will not be there to protect you when the militias are in control. 

This comes out of having experienced being homeless and losing control over your personal territory.

When you are on the run or stuck in a refugee camp in your own country, you have serious things to worry about: where will you sleep tonight, what will your children eat, what will you do for a change of clothing, what of sanitary towels, medicine and safe water to drink, what if the attackers overrun the camp, and what does tomorrow hold?

The challenge for those who revolve around power blocs is very different. It is the fear that they will lose their standing in society, not to mention the juicy perks that they have drawn over the years. 

Then there is the power to hire and fire. Power is addictive, and being driven back left past the hordes of Kenyans walking home must give you quite a kick. 

Let’s not give in to our fears and/or ambitions. The country comes first. For those who did not take part in the fight for Independence, this is the time to face up to the daunting task of being Kenyan — and all that this means. 

The euphoria over the Annan Accord is over. Now comes the hard part. To their credit, the much-maligned MPs have so far held up their end of the agreement. 

For all we know, the Tenth Parliament might well be the one to change the way we look at political leadership. 

Ignoring those who are hell-bent on fomenting political tensions is not an option. We need to see action taken against them, or we might be tempted to ask: “Whose spanner-boys are they?”

Write to the author

About SG

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


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