Tuesday, February 17, 2009



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
February 17, 2009

As things stand now, Kenya is at cross-roads. Nobody and nothing is safe. Our tomorrow is not guaranteed. What seems to be holding us together is shakier than ever before. If according to Muthoni Wanyeki of Kenya Human Rights Commission; we are preparing for a second round of political upheavals; then we have reason to be weary.

Both Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki are doing a good job of it putting on a brave face that everything is fine. However, talking to both ODM and PNU insiders from time to time; one gets this strange feeling that all is not well with everything including the Grand Coalition. Too many high ranking politicians including senior ministers, believe that the only people who think the Coalition is working are the two principals.

Just look at this: if Mutula Kilonzo can go on the podium and ask the principals to resign for having failed to provide leadership; if Prof. Anyang’ Nyongo’ can challenge Mutula Kilonzo to resign for challenging the principles to do the same; if it is true that senior cabinet ministers voted with the government while detailing their party colleagues to vote the other way; if Mungatana and Martha Karua could vote differently, then there is something fundamentally rotten in our present government.

Right now Hague trials are not far fetched; and neither is the possible vote of no confidence on Saitoti, Ruto and Murungi for economic crimes and crimes against humanity that took place under their watch.

The dragons of the oil scam, maize scandal and extrajudicial police killings will not just go away until they claim their victims. No amount of denials or back-passing will do this time round. The country is watching every step the two principals are making in dealing with impunity of every sort, ranging from economic crimes to reckless murders by the trigger-happy police force.

The tragedy that Kibaki and Raila find themselves is that they are some kind of prisoners of their own political outfits. Raila cannot let Ruto go from the cabinet due to the maize scandal without going down with him either now or in the future. The Kalenjin backlash will be too devastating to bear. Yet in the same ODM camp, several ministers and MPs are bent on letting Ruto go for having embarrassed the once clean party.

On Kibaki’s camp, the mere fact that Kiraitu Murungi and George Saitoti may leave the cabinet a second time on graft accusations in six years will be too painful to bear. In Murungi lies the Meru’s continued support for the President especially now that the President’s son has vouched for the Meru’s turn to lead Kenya when Kibaki retires in four years’ time. Saitoti on the other hand is Kibaki PNU National Chairman as well as a possible successor.

Assuming that the maize and oil scandals will go away leaving Ruto and Murungi intact in the government and that extrajudicial killings will not remove Saitoti from the cabinet; it is still possible that the Hague-like trials will net prime suspects of the 2007-2008 post elections violence. That list that Waki handed to Kofi Annan is rumored strongly to include Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto among other 10 prominent Kenyans.

Ironically, when the violence erupted, William Ruto and Uhuru Kenya were in opposite camps. But now that it has dawned on them that the principals that supported are now in a grand coalition and will not hesitate to let them hang alone, they have found solace in one another as former comrades. They have realized that they have to hang together or be hanged separately. The more reason it was recently reported in n the local press that soon after their joint fundraising for victims of petrol fire in Molo last week, Uhuru managed to sneak Ruto into State House for consultations with the president on obvious matters.

In this game of chess, Uhuru would love to see Ruto abandon Raila Odinga for the future political battles. Meanwhile in KANU camp where Uhuru still half heartedly belongs, the Moi family would not shed a tear to see William Ruto on his knees.
Grapevine says that Martha Karua is seething with rage at some senior cabinet ministers who stabbed her on the back during the Constitutional Amendment debate.

She says whereas they voted with the government; they detailed their MPs to go and vote the other way. Not blameless is the Head of the Civil Service who to this day believes that the local Tribunal that was supposed to be set would be subordinate to the High Court; an attitude that hardened the feelings of rebel MPs and other cabinet members against the bill.

With the kind of dysfunctional government that we have today, one may be excused for crying loud over the death of collective responsibility. Where is the leadership that can get us out of this mess?