Tuesday, July 8, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
July 8, 2008

On Sunday last week, Amos Kimunya swore on his mother’s name that he would not resign.He vowed that he would only relinquish his Treasury office if the Raila Odinga team also resigned. On this score he had the support of none other than Uhuru Kenyatta, one of Raila’s deputies.

Two days later, Kimunya threw in the towel as pressure mounted with the possibility that the entire government would crumble when one considered Charity Ngilu’s warning to President Kibaki that if Kimunya did not go, ODM would pull out of the coalition to pave way for fresh elections!

The utterances of Kimunya over the weekend were pretty careless but not unexpected. He had been careless for a long time; the kind of behavior one only expects from a spoilt brat. None of his bravado utterances either before or immediately after the flawed elections reflected the thinking of a respected government official.

Kimunya’s threats to the Prime Minister’s committee were as telling as they were mischievous. One could discern a message that seemed to suggest that Kimunya was more important than the Prime Minister and his committee. He seemed to say that as Finance Minister, he was only answerable to the President.

If Kimunya decided to take Raila Odinga and team on, his was to demonstrate that he had no faith in them and therefore would not work with them in the future. What he did without knowing was that he alienated President Kibaki against him rather than Raila Odinga’s committee. In so doing, he was telling the President to dissolve the cabinet- sacrifice Raila Odinga and his team for Kimunya’s sake. He miscalculated big time. The President was not ready to go back to the elections with a possible second round of electoral violence as was witnessed early this year.

The location he chose to issue his threats were equally telling. He chose his Kipiriri constituency complete with demonstrators to send a message to Kibaki that they were fully behind their Member of Parliament, thief or no thief. What they had forgotten was that the Merus also held similar demonstrations in support of Mwiraria and Kiraitu when they faced similar circumstances. Their demonstrations never moved the golfing gentleman from Othaya.

So Alfred Mutua has found his voice again now that Kimunya has stepped aside! The curious thing about Mutua’s position is that he is doomed to always saying the right things at the wrong moments. A good government spokesman must always weigh his words against the mood of the moment. It doesn’t have to be blind faith till death do us part even to the people who have raped, plundered and shamed their motherland.

If Amos Kimunya stepped aside, why did it have to be Alfred Mutua to say so? Has Mutua become Kimunya’s personal assistant or has he become an appointing authority of the cabinet to decide who steps aside or resigns?

In civilized societies, when an important political decision like that one is made, either the appointing authority addresses the nation or the affected individual calls a press conference and makes his exit speech. It does not fall on a government functionary to muddle the waters further.

Whichever way one looks at it, Amos Kimunya must remember that he replaced David Mwiraria who also stepped aside. Mwiraria never returned to that office. He must remember that Kiraitu Murungi also stepped aside from the powerful Justice Ministry. He never lived to return to that office. There is one chance in hell that Kimunya will return to the Treasury let alone the cabinet any time soon.

In Mutua trying to convince Kenyans that his friend Kimunya has simply stepped aside temporarily, let him remember that this government is unlike President Kibaki’s last government of GNU. This government is a coalition government with two principals. Any appointment to the cabinet must be done in consultation with the other partner; therefore it will not be business as usual.

In my opinion, there are many upright Kikuyus that are qualified to be Finance Ministers if Kibaki feels that the office must be occupied by one of his own. Personally I would recommend John Michuki or Stanley Githunguri for that slot if it has to go to PNU. These are mature people who have seen all the money in the world and would not be tempted to go berserk the way Kimunya did at the Treasury!