Wednesday, April 16, 2008



By George Subsahara

Kenyans finally have a cabinet in place. However nobody has popped the champagne yet. In fact what is rapidly emerging amongst most Kenyans all over the world is deep exhaustion when it comes to Kenyan politics these days. Very telling was the fact that the wild celebrations that one would have expected from Kisumu did NOT happen.

Just thinking about the twists and turns in Kenyan politics since last December makes many Kenyans feel very tired. But as our very own mwalimu likes to say; na bado.

One of two things will happen next. Either Ali Baba and his 41 thieves will eat in bliss and you will not hear a sound because when thieves know too much about each other, they fear each other. Or alternatively we are about to be treated to endless squabbling, turf wars and all sorts of clownish activity. Most analysts agree that there is no option “C”

Sigh. Just thinking about it makes even me feel very tired.
There are a few things that have clearly emerged from the coalition cabinet named yesterday. For instance, the dominance of Kenyan politics by one tribe continues.

There is no doubt that the Prime Minister’s office will wield immense powers despite what skeptics say. That means that the deputy Prime Ministers will be fairly powerful people and will no doubt overshadow even the vice presidency which has just become an even weaker office that it was previously.

It beats logic how the president of Kenya can hail from the Kikuyu tribe and then have one of the deputy prime ministers hail from the same tribe. That does not augur well for the country, period. It is instructive that all the front runners for deputy premiership from PNU were from that single tribe. In fact this is the big weakness with PNU that many people have not seen. The memories of Kenyans are indeed very short. Everybody seems to have forgotten that what really caused Moi’s downfall was the fact that Kanu was fairly dominated by persons from the Kalenjin community.

However what President Kibaki has done in barely a quarter of the time that Moi was in power is amazing to say the least (that is in the 5 years, going to 6, that he has ruled Kenya in comparison to Moi’s 24 years). Kibaki has surpassed what his predecessor did in 24 years in avery short time. When you understand this key point, you will understand why President Kibaki lost the elections of last December by close to a landslide and you will also understand why chaos broke out immediately after the so-called election results were announced. You will also understand why PNU’s fall will create a more resounding crash than that of KANU before it.

The choice of Uhuru clearly shows you just how influential retired president Moi still is. We all know the thinly veiled threat that came from Kanu before the cabinet was named. Clearly the old man is still dreaming dreams about KANU. In my view the rapidly emerging political landscape can only mean that Kanu is dead as a dodo, whatever Moi or anybody else does.

The other thing that is very clear from the bloated cabinet is the fact that political games are still being played big time. ODM has emerged in a much stronger position than most analysts seem to realize.

We now have a prime minister at the heart of government with constitutional powers for the next 2 years to stick his nose in government business and government secrets. That can’t be good news for PNU hardliners some of whom were determined to retire very rich when President Kibaki’s final term comes to an end. That is the point that everybody has missed, concentrating instead on the much hyped portfolio balance.

Raila likes to say; Usione Simba imenyeshewa ukafikiri ni paka. (Do not see a lion that has been rained on and dare mistake it for a cat). That is the exact position Raila thrives from, that of being seen as an underdog. Indeed he started his presidential campaign as the “unelectable presidential candidate” Remember? It looks like Raila is at a great disadvantage now but just watch what will happen.

Of course the other thing that all this does is to complicate the Kibaki succession a great deal and I am convinced that the current Mungiki troubles across the country are linked somehow to the Kibaki succession.

What PNU have done as precautionary moves is to move the Ministry of Special programs out of the president’s office and then crowd the presidents office with numerous new portfolios that they believe need to be watched, mainly because of the individuals who occupy those dockets. These are immigration (Otieno Kajwang) national heritage and culture (William Ole Ntimama) as well as public service (Dalmas Otieno). All these are key allies to ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Clearly ODM have been fed a suicide ministry called the ministry of Lands (headed by James Orengo). This is the ministry that will have to be at the forefront of sorting out the mess created by President Kenyatta with big help from retired President Moi in the 60s which culminated in the recent troubles. Orengo has been set up for major failure mainly because he has no powers to make the bold changes required to correct the injustices of the past which is the only way to restore permanent peace. This story of always falling back on the law and the legal owners of the land will just NOT wash.

Then somebody has gone and done a ludicrous thing with the ministry of education. We now have a ministry of education and a ministry of higher education, science and technology (Sally Kosgei). The implication here is that the Ministry of education is the “boss ministry) while the Higher education ministry is a junior ministry reporting to it. If this were not the case then Sam Ongeri’s ministry should have been called the Minstry for basic education.

Another political game that has been played is what has been done with the Ministry of tourism and wildlife. It has been split into the ministry of tourism headed by Najib Balala of ODM and the ministry of Wild life and forestry headed close Kibaki confidante Noah Wekesa. At first glance Hon wekesa looks like he’s been fed a weak ministry. However the truth is that Forestry and Wild life will control all the lucrative parks in the country and will have the real power while the ministry of tourism will see Balala as a pen pusher and globe trotting salesman for Kenyan tourist attractions.