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Kenya grand rip-off

This deal must not be another rip-off

Publication Date: 4/19/2008

Finally, the grand coalition has given birth to a grand Cabinet which it is hoped, will lead Kenyans back to the grand march they hesitantly started in 1992.

And even better, there is now talk of a grand opposition by the backbenchers in Parliament to provide the checks and balances necessary to ensure the grand alliance does not pull us back into the cesspool of grand corruption that has been the country’s bane since the 1980s.

Despite the many loud murmurs of discontent on both sides as well as the opposition over the bloated Cabinet, the principals to the peace negotiations seem to have so far pulled it off with minimum damage to their credibility. 

But Kenyans want to go on with their disrupted lives, deal or no deal.

The Cabinet deal could be a strength or a weakness that has been shown many times in Kenya’s history. We seem keen to patch things up instead of seeking full solutions. 

Our history is replete with the skeletons in the cupboard about past deals which smoothed over crises irrespective of the dangers to the national fabric.

Maybe it is part of the machinations of the ruling class which has retained power since independence despite various attempts to remove them by any means, constitutional or unconstitutional.

To withstand the onslaught launched against it in the 1990s, the Moi regime acceded to minimum reforms in 1997 to give birth to the Inter-Party Parliamentary Group (IPPG) accord. The pact gave the ruling class a lifeline which they used to great effect in that year’s elections which they “won”.

In 2002, the divided ruling class joined with the genuine opposition to kick out the crass pretence at governance, and in came the first grand coalition. 

The inherent contradictions and power struggles came to a head in 2005 where again, either by design or default, we were rail-roaded into the constitutional referendum by the oranges and bananas even when common sense dictated that we resolve the contentious 20 per cent of the draft to give Kenyans a new document.

NOW, AFTER LAST YEAR’S IMPASSE, WE seem to have climbed a step higher by having all voices on board after a killing spree. One hopes that this is not grand fraud again.

The other day, as I watched the State House announcement of the Cabinet at Tandoori Restaurant at Diani in the midst of a horde of enthusiasts representing the beach subculture. 

Being the only “outsider”, I was amazed at the passion the group showed every time an ODM minister was announced. 

Later in the evening, I went to one of the newly opened meat places for a drink and dinner with a friend and the mood was reversed. 

Here, the celebrations were for the PNU side, with many proclaiming that they had “retained the powerful portfolios.” 

On Monday evening, I was back in Ukunda town from my retreat to find a town in depression; everyone was eyeing one another suspiciously, and as we watched news of the Mungiki mayhem, the celebrations of the previous day seemed too far away. 

The kiosks had closed early, but the brave ones watched over their wares in groups as unfriendly ethnic brick-bats were hurled and as mixed groups watched the evening news. I quickly retreated to the safety of the foreign-owned hotel only to find the waiters also in ferment. 

The grand affair must now move with alacrity to start mending the torn national fabric because, despite the signs of camaraderie, the underlying tensions can easily be taken advantage of by rabble-rousers with amazing success.

The glee with which the new ministers took their places shows that they are keen to keep them for as long as it takes, and Kenyans only hope that, for a change, they will put in some work and that the “mix-them-gather-them” effort will keep all on their toes.

If they get too cosy, we will be in for another grand rip-off.

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About SG

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


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