Tuesday, December 16, 2008



December 15 2008

BESIDES THE DETAILS IN THE unacceptable anti-media law passed by two some two dozen MPs last week; something else that comes about the whole idea is just how dysfunctional this grand conspiracy government is.

There has been the tendency to blame Information minister Samuel Poghisio and his PS Bitange Ndemo for pushing through the reprehensible and retrogressive legislation; but if truth be told, that was a Government Bill, not a Private Members Bill or a Party Bill.

When ministers move to distance themselves from the Bill, they are not being honest.

We heard over the weekend, for instance, Lands minister James Orengo publicly declare his opposition to the Bill after it had already won passage in Parliament.

He went a step further and declared that ODM was not party to the Bill, and would even move to challenge it in court of it got President Kibaki’s assent.

One must wonder where Mr Orengo was when the Bill passed by the popular acclamation of a handful of MPs that did not even make a quorum.

One must also wonder where Mr Orengo was throughout the process when the Bill was being debated both inside and outside Parliament.

Then there is the fact that the Ugenya MP sits in the Cabinet, and would surely have been privy to whatever process gave the Ministry of Information and Communications the go-ahead to proceed with the contentious legislation.

Mr Orengo is also being rather economical with the truth when he attempts to distance ODM from the Bill. The fact is that ODM has an equal share in the grand collusion and therefore must bear equal responsibility for anything done by the Government of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga.

Nowhere is it on record that ODM in the Cabinet opposed the Bill. Nowhere is it on record that in Parliament, ODM whipped its MPs to oppose the Bill.

Indeed, some ODM legislators were the most enthusiastic promoters of the brazen move aimed at “fixing” the media, and there is no record of any of them being censured.

The fact is that if ODM files a case in court over the Bill in question, or any other Government move, it will, in effect, be suing itself.

ODM is part of Government. Period. There should be no instance where the likes Mr Orengo, Mr William Ruto, Mrs Charity Ngilu, Prof Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, or any other Cabinet ministers are forever railing against the very same Government they sit in.

If they do want to keep publicly finding fault with their Government, then the decent and honest thing would be to resign and have the freedom to yell from the rooftops; but from the outside looking in and not while continuing to enjoy the perks of ministerial office.

But then this is a Government like no other. It is clear that the right hand often does not know what the left is doing, and that is how the grand deception that rushed the contentious Bill into Parliament came about.

WE HAVE SEEN MANY OTHER INST-ances, in recent days, of just how dysfunctional the Government is – to the point that divisions within the Cabinet on the most mundane of issues are being played out in public.

The pitiful Government attempts to win over MPs on the constitutional amendments required to disband the Electoral Commission is a case in point.

Twice over the past week, President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga have failed at informal kamukunjis in Parliament to secure the requisite majority. The amazing thing is that they have faced not only rebellious MPs, but also Cabinet ministers who have played key roles in campaigning against the proposed amendments.One would have imagined that before any such proposals are taken to the MPs, they have the backing of a united Cabinet.

The same applies to the circus over the clause in the Finance Bill that would have required MPs to pay their full dues to the taxman.

We have seen the most senior of Cabinet ministers publicly state that they are not opposed to paying tax, but nowhere have we seen any determined Government effort on the issue.

Instead the Government meekly caved in when MPs threatened to throw out the entire Finance Bill.

After that successful bit of blackmail, the MPs were emboldened to hold the Government to ransom at will, and that might be just what they are doing with the Electoral Commission issue – another bit of blackmail to ensure that the Government does not listen to reason and bring back the little matter of their tax evasion.

When the grand coalition was formed, fears were expressed that it was akin to a one-party state. Far from it. What we have is a largely rudderless contraption beholden to a small group of MPs that have abandoned both their party lines and the national interests in pursuit of personal goals.

The President and the Prime Minister can no longer afford to sit twiddling their thumbs. What they must do as a matter of urgency before everything collapses around them is to enforce discipline in the national leadership, and that starts with the Cabinet.

The Cabinet must take clear positions on all issues, and those not willing to toe the line must be asked to leave and take their agitation to the Opposition benches.