Tuesday, September 23, 2008



Kenya Times
Nairobi, Kenya
Tuesday, September 23, 2008

THE turmoil the country faced early this year precipitated by a vastly flawed presidential election, should have taught politicians a big lesson. A lesson that hopefully was going to change their political mode of operation. However, going by events of the last three months, nothing seems to have changed. In fact the political mood as displayed by the political class is as if a general election is just around the corner.

The succession scuffles have escalated especially in the conglomeration of parties – the Party of National Unity – where the war of words about who should succeed President Mwai Kibaki come 2012 is deafening. The same struggle is evident in the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) over the number two position to the party leader Raila Odinga. Leaders, particularly from Rift Valley, are aggressively rooting for William Ruto to replace Deputy Premier Musalia Mudavadi who is the declared and presumptive second in command to Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

While the ambition among leaders of different parties that form PNU and those in ODM is understandable in view of the fact hat every party leader aspires to capture the highest seat in the land, it is important that politicians should not lose sight of the reality regarding the election emotions that ran high after the disputed presidential poll. These emotions are still fresh among millions of Kenyans. Can leaders kindly tone down their politicking. The General Election was held nine months ago.

Although a dispute arose and the international community stepped in to help resolve it, a coalition was formed and the two principals--President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga--have strenuously pledged that the coalition will work and succeed. Indeed all the symptoms of a working coalition are evident. The success of this working coalition is what every Kenyan and friends of Kenya continue to pray for. It is, therefore, a little disturbing that so much valuable time is being expended by our politicians campaigning to succeed current holders of executive power so early.

We still have a whole four years before another general election is called unless of course the coalition fails. It is tragic that none of the political leaders, it seems, is alert enough to recall the kind of violent political convulsions this country experienced in the first two months of this year. It was all as a result of political rivalry. Yet what is happening right now is pure campaign to succeed leaders who are still in office for the next four years. It makes little political sense. The timing of the current canvassing is ill-advised.

For now it is more prudent the political class to save Kenyans the trouble and concentrate on healing the wounds inflicted on many communities following the post-election violence. Thousands of Kenyans are still in IDP camps. Thousands others have temporarily been resettled and even hundreds of thousands are experiencing the pangs of hunger in such areas as Turkana, Samburu, West Pokot and North Eastern Province. These are situations that need the attention of our leaders to save them from the famine agony.

Still there are many other areas that need attention like in education, rehabilitation of our infrastructure, unemployment and the rising crime wave. Already one organisation--Strategic Public Relations and Research Ltd.--has shown that Kenyans are dissatisfied with the government’s performance over issues to do with dehumanising poverty, corruption, tribalism, unemployment, and economy. Kenyans are getting uncomfortable about the performance of elected leaders. This public discomfort is going to lead to the discomfiture in four years of many MPs who do not seem to take public opinion in this matter seriously.