Saturday, January 17, 2009



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
January 17, 2009

Justice Minister Martha Karua calls them a 12 member team of corrupt individuals. She maintains that some of them should be in jail instead of being appointed to any respectable government office. These are the 12 wise men President Kibaki appointed late last week to be responsible for resolving his coalition problems from time to time whenever disputes arise.

Ironically this team has excluded two senior women cabinet ministers who have served with distinction in similar high profile arrangements in the past.

It will be remembered that when the first ever coalition government was formed by NARC in 2002, Charity Kaluki Ngilu was not just the chairperson of the NARC party. She was also a member of the 8 man NARC Summit that was chaired by Mwai Kibaki. At that time she was a strong member of the Kibaki side of the coalition, having joined him earlier with the late Kijana Wamalwa. Since then, Ngilu has served in the Kibaki cabinet except for a short stint when she was fired at the end of 2007 soon after she defected to Raila Odinga’s ODM party.

Martha Karua, President Kibaki’s once ardent supporter since their Democratic Party days has also served in the cabinet since Kibaki came to power in 2002. In the 2007 elections, she was one of the most controversial PNU leaders who single-handedly stood by Kibaki when things were really thick. For this reason, Kibaki appointed her as one of the four PNU/ ODMK negotiating team formed under Kofi Annan to broker a power sharing arrangement with the ODM party following post election violence that sent Kenya on the brink of social disorder. Kenyans will never forget how her abrasive approach to the negotiations almost derailed the talks when she took the external team head on, on matters of their personal integrities.

It is possible to understand why Karua is not on the 12 member Kibaki team but it is difficult to discern why Charity Ngilu, a member of the ODM Pentagon is missing from the table.

Of late Martha Karua has not seen eye to eye with the likes of Kalonzo Musyoka, George Saitoti, and Uhuru Kenyatta due to the fact that she has bolted out of the Kibaki stable to vie for the presidency come 2012. Their gripe with her is that they see her as a spoiler who is intent on derailing the Kalonzo, Kenyatta, Kiraitu and Saitoti lineup against ODM in 2012. Despite several rebukes from the President regarding her ambition, she has decided to soldier on and declare publicly that she will not seek anybody’s permission to vie for the highest office in the land.

What of Charity Kaluki Ngilu? Could it be because she recently declared a truce with her perennial nemesis for the Ukambani leadership Kalonzo Musyoka; a man the ODM brigade would love to hate? Could this be enough reason to sideline the only woman in the Pentagon?

Looking at this lineup more critically, it would seem more like a team headed for a collision than a team building group. This is because it includes some of the most treacherous, devious and unreliable group.

More importantly, some members of this team have permanent grudges with some ODM members who they think are responsible for having derailed their presidential ambitions in the past. Worse still, quite a number in this team may be on their way out into political wilderness due to the looming Waki Tribunal trials due to begin in March 2009. If this happens, it may be fair to speculate that potential losers would just be too happy to derail the coalition and scuttle the entire governance process and return Kenyans to another round of chaos!

Looked at another way; how can anybody expect Uhuru Kenyatta, George Saitoti, Kalonzo Musyoka and Mutula Kilonzo to sit in a room with James Orengo, Anyang’ Nyongo’ and William Ruto to resolve a dispute? Is Kibaki trying to mix water and oil here?

On another note; can it be Kibaki’s unstated intention to muddy the political waters as much as possible, cause as much friction as possible on the political landscape such that come 2012, it will be any body’s game and certainly not the bickering current lot of leadership? Could Kibaki be secretly planning to derail the political careers of Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta, George Saitoti and Kalonzo Musyoka without appearing to do so?

These appointments have opened another battle-front for the coalition government. Now; woman have painfully realized that the two principals do not care much about the law and are politically insensitive to their plight in this country. Can anybody blame them for thinking this way, considering that soon after the announcement; Kibaki followed it with another list of all male ambassadors, adding more fuel to the fire?

If these 12 men will be going for one another’s throats in their boardroom wars, there will be more drama outside trying to discredit them with unbridled gusto. Leading the pack will be women cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, the civil society groups and the Law Society of Kenya.
All I can do is to wish this team all the luck because they will need it.