Thursday, February 19, 2009



February 18 2009

As with almost any critical issue in Kenya, the motion of censure against Agriculture minister William Ruto was ultimately decided as a political duel; rather than on the question of whether he has corruptly mismanaged maize trade and distribution leading to severe shortages of the commodity.

Unlike returned Cabinet colleague Amos Kimunya, who lost a censure motion because he was too naive or too proud to play the political game, Mr Ruto used everything in his arsenal to ensure that he did not become another victim of crusading Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale.

His first step was to get the sizeable Kalenjin bloc of MPs firmly behind him, transforming the issue beyond maize or the fate of one individual into an issue of the community’s place in the political landscape.

This was not just on the censure motion, but on another issue that has been pre-occupying leaders from the region —the proposed tribunal to try authors of serious crimes out of Kenya’s bout of post-electoral violence.

In the run-up to the censure motion, Mr Ruto’s biggest concern would have been not so much that he was up against the PNU arm of the coalition, but that he might be up against hostile forces within ODM loyal to Mr Odinga, and a Luhya bloc allied to his rival for the number two slot in the party, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi.

Total rejection

Mr Ruto was able to line up the Kalenjin bloc behind him by simply playing up the issues that have caused a level of discomfort with ODM within the community, such as Mr Odinga’s support for the Mau Forest evictions and his early support for the Special Tribunal at a time when the instinct was towards a total rejection of the Justice Waki report.

While it was clear that there were divisions within ODM over the Ruto motion, it also played into the minister’s hands that key figures in the party, including Mr Odinga, could not take a position.

That would only reinforce perceptions among the Kalenjins of a great betrayal and also contribute to the siege mentality that is leading to calls for a break from ODM towards a party that is more representative of the community.

Then there were the divisions within PNU. Ordinarily it would have been expected that any move with potential to derail Mr Ruto’s political career would excite central Kenya leadership.

But it is also a fact that when it came to issues such as the threat of trials for the post-election violence suspects and issues regarding corruption in government, many of the key leaders from the region were not going to throw stones at Mr Ruto.

It is instructive that other than Justice minister Martha Karua, who has taken the battle to Mr Ruto, other major central Kenya leaders — including Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi —have either backed their Agriculture colleague or maintained a loud silence.

Ms Karua, like Mr Kenyatta and Internal Security minister George Saitoti, is one of the central Kenya leaders seeking to inherit President Kibaki’s mantle. But she is considered an outsider, a loose cannon running a solo campaign.

Among President Kibaki’s inner circle, suspicion is openly expressed that she is more interested in positioning herself for a prominent role in an Odinga-led post-Kikuyu order rather than in seeking the extension of Kikuyu rule.

Thus, her campaign against Mr Ruto is viewed with suspicion, especially against the belief that Mr Odinga has little sympathy for the Agriculture minister.


Submitted by mulosh
Posted February 19, 2009 09:07 AM

Abingoben, don't be funny...where was evidence for kimunya? Rutto's evidence is all over, Jackson Kibor admitted making 85m out of NCBP, from maize earmarked to be sold to starving people. if no one including the 119 waheshimiwas do not see this, then I think this country is no longer a nation but a dustbin of madmen!

Submitted by sliky
Posted February 19, 2009 08:50 AM

I fully agree wth abingoben. Gaitho try thinking outside the box.

Submitted by igirik
Posted February 19, 2009 02:13 AM

Is this the Kenya we realy want? Who will liberate us from this political siege?

Submitted by nnjenga
Posted February 19, 2009 01:00 AM

What is truth? Is it decided by numbers? I hope the jubilant MPs will put food in the plate of starving Kenyans now they have supported one of their own and being blind to the suffering poor Kenyans. Tribe not withstanding, something is wrong with our leaders.

Submitted by abingoben
Posted February 18, 2009 11:46 PM

Gaitho you seem to miss the point and I think you sound too frustrated that this motion has been thrown out. How did you expect the PM Hon. Raila to take a stand over Ruto yet there is no evidence? You only seem to see ODM and Kalenjin factors in the end result of censure motion. Even though you are a journalist, tribal feelings have pushed you too far that your hate for Ruto overshadow your ability to reason. Lack of evidence and proof earned Marther Karua and Dr. Khalwale the big shame they never expected.