Tuesday, March 3, 2009



By David Ohito

A year after the National Peace Accord was signed, Cabinet ministers say the spirit of power sharing and the grand coalition have been dampened and reforms agenda scuttled.

Beset by infighting, mistrust, lack of confidence, jostling for President Kibaki’s succession in 2012 and political intrigues as well as competition among political parties have denied the grand coalition its performance edge.

The sharply divided Cabinet is rocked by allegations of corruption and the lack of decisive action from President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga against errant ministers.

So grave are the matters of Cabinet that Metropolitan Minister Mutula Kilonzo challenged Kibaki and Raila to resign for failing to lead the reform process.

ODM maintains it was shortchanged and real power sharing as spelled out in the accord ignored or at times flouted, but PNU denies the claims, arguing bickering and differences are normal in a coalition.

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka is optimistic there is a lot already achieved by the coalition and the Government was keen on delivering a new constitution.

Tremendous progress

Kalonzo argues the Grand Coalition Government has made tremendous progress in governance and developmental issues.

"On governance, Parliament set the road map for delivery of a new constitution through the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Act 2008 among other pieces of legislation," he says.

On youth empowerment, the Government has come up with Kazi kwa Vijana (jobs for the youth) project, which seeks to create jobs for thousands through labour intensive projects like roads and dams construction.

While responding to ODM claims on the raw deal of power sharing, Kalonzo said: "The nature of coalition arrangements is that there are quarrels over policy and positions, but they are always resolved or coalition partners learn how to live with it."

No consultation

ODM Secretary-General and Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o says: " We assumed so many things would be done. Power sharing is as remote as ever and implementation of agreements has been abandoned.

"We operate as if the structures of the accord didn’t exist. Positive sides of the accord have not been fully exploited."

Prof Nyong’o said there was no consultation at all with ODM on matters relating to appointments of diplomats, provincial administrators and the civil servants.

"It is important to talk openly and honestly when (former UN Secretary-General) Dr Kofi Annan meets the President and the Prime Minister in Geneva at the end of March," Nyong’o said.

He said it was proper to give an objective appraisal of the performance of the coalition since signing the of peace accord.

But Environment Minister John Michuki, speaking on Sunday in his Kangema backyard said, "The President is fully in charge contrary to claims by detractors that he is not in control and is sharing power with the Prime Minister."

Said Michuki: "Kibaki is a veteran politician who has survived many storms. He is fully in control. People should be happy they elected Kibaki into office."

But Nyong’o said the statement by Michuki was unfortunate and must be treated with the contempt it deserves. That is how bad the coalition looks, Nyong’o said.

Michuki, however, admitted that bribery and corruption have earned the country a bad image internationally. "We should all join hands to fight corruption," he said.

Fresh spat

The ministers spoke as a fresh spat between Nyong’o and Public Health Minister Beth Mugo over appointments in the ministry came out in the open.

Fears abound that with the Special Tribunal law defeated in Parliament, disagreements over the Interim Independent Electoral Commission, the Constitution review delayed, the envisaged reforms will not be met within the set time frame.

Said Lands Minister James Orengo: "The biggest criticism is that there is no real power sharing. But worse is that lords of corruption are sitting in Parliament and Cabinet. They preside over cartels with impunity and scheme to oppose reforms."

Mr Orengo, who is a member of the Serena mediation committee says, "The political will to exorcise the ghost of corruption is lost".

Diplomatic test

"President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila are under duty to provide inspirational and principled leadership to the State ship towards a new Constitution," Orengo says.

Housing Minister Soita Shitanda says foreigners are increasingly interfering with the internal affairs of the country. "The issue of UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston giving directives is unwelcome.

"It failed the diplomatic test while dealing with sensitive security matters that would have been handled in a better and objective approach," Shitanda said.

On a referendum, Kalonzo says consensus must be built to avert divisions witnessed between the Orange and the Banana camps in November 2005.

"We want to build consensus among political leaders, the clergy, the civil society groups and professional groups so as to agree on contentious issues ahead of a referendum. A contested referendum has the potential to divide Kenyans, a prospect which must be avoided at all costs," Kalonzo said.

Equal partners

Today, ODM holds a National Executive Council meeting at Orange House, which will address the status of the coalition following remarks by the Environment Minister.

Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula similarly denied ODM was shortchanged under the National Accord agreements.

"We are equal partners and there is no question of shortchanging any party."

Mr Wetangula said the war on corruption was on course and the reform agenda would be met fully with commitment from both sides.

Yesterday, Education Minister Prof Sam Ongeri said Kibaki and Raila needed support to steer the country to meet the set agenda.