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Greed and selfishness to blame for the Cabinet-making crisis

Publication Date: 4/5/2008

It is gratifying to note that the once vibrant lobby groups are back in the streets over a critical national issue, and the teargassing of the demonstrators confirms that police will never be anything else other than a machinery of violence.

But the activists need to conduct an indepth analysis of the Cabinet stalemate and let Kenyans know the root cause.

If politicians mobilise Kenyans on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, nepotism, patronage and corruption, and not on what is positive for the country, it is not surprising that there is no political will to resolve critical national issues.

Are we not witnessing the folly of Kenya’s winner-takes-all political system? Are we not witnessing how unpatriotic the MPs are? It is this negative politics that is at the heart of as the Cabinet crisis.

Is there anything magical about the numbers being debated? What are the fundamental differences between 44 and 34? The argument is that a lean cabinet is cost-effective.

True as this may be however, a larger cabinet paid less may be both cost-effective and efficient.

There is need, therefore, to focus the activism and agitation on the critical issue of  the salaries of MPs, ministers and assistant ministers. The culture of service to the people is not in our politicians, and we may want to use the stalemate to debate the nurturing of such a culture.

All ministries would be critical if power and resources were equitably shared among the ministries.

For instance, would the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports, Culture and Social Services not be the most powerful if it had more resources?

Given the post-election conflict, is this not the ministry that should be well resourced to allow the country’s reconstruction?

As long as some ministries trump all others in terms of power, resources, and decision-making as well as remain unaccountable to other ministries, the struggles will always be there to control the key ministries.

The lobby groups’ activism and agitation should focus on how ministries should be weighted equally in terms of power, resources and decision-making.

The struggle for ministries is also based on corrupt practices and greed. The lobbies seem to forget that certain ministries have been engines of corruption.

Should this not be exposed as the root cause of the political stalemate? Some ministries will ensure the party that gets them is involved in corrupt deals.

This fact is important because both PNU and ODM are engaged in struggles to capture state power in 2012.

New political alignments are afoot and new alliances can be potential winners in 2012 only if they pick ministries that will enable them to replenish the political war chest for the next elections.

Certain ministries can be a political kiss of death to the holders, for they expose them to political vulnerability, although no politician has made such a complaint.

One reason why former Environment minister Kivutha Kibwana lost the election was his inability to implement changes in issues pertaining to the environment and land.

If a minister from northern Kenya takes charge of Public Works and does not start the building of roads in the region, he or she may as well kiss goodbye the possibility of re-election.

It is, therefore, important that the issue of equality in the distribution of resources in ministries becomes a key issue of agitation and activism.

The imperial presidency is alive and kicking. And undemocratic practices are not dead either.

Why have the political parties ceded to their leaders the democratic right to discuss power sharing? Would it not be a good idea if they democratically discussed the issues so that they may be resolved?

Is it that difficult to set the criteria of how leaders should pick their ministers? Why leave the responsibility to the leaders of parties and waste time secretly lobbying them?

Kenyans must change their style of doing politics if they care about the country’s interests. The cabinet stalemate reflects the depth of the political leadership crisis in Kenya, and indeed, in Africa.

The continent’s political leadership suffers from extreme bouts of unpatriotism, greed, selfishness, unquenchable thirst for wealth and the protection of ill-gotten gains. Does Kenya need such leadership?

With such leadership controlling our resources we should not be surprised if the country remains economically, socially, culturally, spiritually, ideologically and politically paralysed.

Our politicians are pushing us back to the precipice of a failing state yet again. Let us all join what the lobby groups have started. Legal civil disobedience is the people’ political right.

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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