Bickering in Government is not helpful
Updated 9 hr(s) 27 min(s) ago
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The launch of the Yes’ to the Proposed Constitution at Uhuru Park two weeks ago evoked feelings of nostalgia and must have left all the leaders asking where the rain started beating their combined hopes and aspirations.
It was the very podium that the same leaders, save for one or two, lambasted the former regime, unveiled their manifestos, cobbled alliances and received very public acclamation and mandate to ride the last government out of town.
Then, the public read unity of purpose, purity of intent and hailed them as liberators. They went on to take over the reins of Government. And the rest is history, right?
In less than three months, the Memorandum of Understanding that brought the leaders together was in tatters and almost all pre-election pledges remained on the shelves as battles, covert and overt, were fought for dominance. The aspirations of the voter were relegated to the periphery.
Ministers jostled for supremacy. Assistant ministers, Permanent Secretaries and departmental heads stoked separate fires under the ruling alliance and by 2005, there were clear fault lines by party as well as ethnic affiliation.
To compound the already fragile situation, a referendum on a new constitution snipped away any strings of co-operation that were left. As Kenyans went into the General Election of 2007, what little pretence of solidarity or nationhood was dropped and armed mobs took to the streets to murder, rape, pillage and torch.
Despite the internationally-brokered National Accord and Reconciliation of February 2008, attrition in Government operations has been slowly building.
Weekly Cabinet meetings became mere rumour. Ministers no longer respected colleagues and openly castigate, plot, threaten and dismiss colleagues, making a mockery of the principle of collective responsibility.
As a result, discordant voices soar in the face of national challenges. For instance, there has been no concerted effort to answer to the frequent armed incursions into Kenyan territories from Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda or the Indian Ocean. This has left hundreds of herders killed by raiders and international terror suspects and drug traffickers literally walking in and out of the country at will.
There has knee-jerk and unco-ordinated response to national calamities like flooding, famine and environmental degradation. In fact, an attempt to reclaim Kenya’s main water tower, Mau Forest Complex spawned such acrimony, it has spilled into all spheres of life and deal a killer blow to the national psyche.
Even on matters of life and death, the twin health ministries have seen a dogfight between the respective ministers that funding for drugs programmes has been frozen. Then again, one minister has engaged Treasury in accusations and counter-accusations over funding hiccups to buy medicines and medical kits.
The ministries of Agriculture, Special Programmes, Treasury and various departments traded barbs over resettlement of forest evictees, internally-displaced victims of post-election violence and donations to other displaced groups.
This week came the turn of the Ministry of Lands, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Parliamentary Departmental Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations facing off over perceived supremacy and shocking accusations of treachery in foreign capitals involving treasonable amounts of bribes.
These are but a few instances of the Tower of Babel that is the Coalition Government. The leaders are working at cross purposes.
Conflict arises when people are convinced they are entitled to something and then meet opposition. In such cases, the wiser choice is not to push things to the brink. Creative solutions that meet others halfway are more valuable and longer lasting than victories achieved through force and abuse.
But then again, as some sage said: There are three sides to every argument: your side, my side and the right side.
Clearly, there is insincerity, distortion and misplaced loyalties. Does this mean this Government has failed? Perhaps not. The last time this happened, they sought mediators to settle matters.
Failure is the final taboo in society. It is, therefore, not an option. The leaders who congregated at Uhuru Park recently need to recall what they set out to do in that seemingly far off, charged 2002 afternoon. It was a noble objective.
Grumbling, Cabinet sibling rivalry and entrenched system flaws are to be expected if the leaders are to reclaim the NARC dream. Remember, all worthy goals meet resistance of some kind.