Wednesday, May 27, 2009



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
May 27, 2009

Of late the American Ambassador to Kenya, His Excellency Michael Ranneberger has gone to town blasting the coalition government left and right about its slow reform agenda. In this crusade, the Ambassador has received applauding ready-made audiences in the form of the youth and some not so youthful Kenyan activists who have made it their profession to smell cash in every movement that purports to fight for reforms and all manner of human rights under the sun.

Right now those Kenyans at Ranneberger’s high table are the same individuals who for selfish and ethnic reasons derailed the 2002 Narc MoU and ensured Kibaki reneged on it claiming it had no legal standing.

Very early in the Narc government, they ensured that a gentleman’s agreement between NAK and LPD was derailed because at that time, some of them were looking for jobs that they could only be assured of if Kibaki remained the absolute ruler; never mind that in the days of the Moi repression, they were the same characters on the frontline with another American Ambassador, Smith Hempston to remove Moi from power or at least bring reforms that would reduce his powers.

It is true we have a coalition government that is not working as smoothly or as efficiently as Kenyans would have liked. It is also true that Kenyans have realized the bitter truth that left to them, neither ODM nor PNU politicians will push for any meaningful reforms. However, this cannot and should never be an excuse to have a foreign diplomat acting as our prefect on every issue under the sun.

I know some politicians have likened him to a colonial governor. I think Ranneberger’s role in Kenyan politics is increasingly becoming worse than that of a colonial governor. The ambassador increasingly exhibits a level of arrogance he would never dare display in another African country like Rwanda, Nigeria or next door Sudan.

If Ranneberger were posted to Kigali and he as much as criticized Kagame’s regime just once, he would be sent packing even if it meant temporary closure of the American embassy. If he doubts me, let him ask the French government.
I am a strong supporter of Barack Obama as president of the United States. I know he means well for Kenya. But in the same breath, I think Ranneberger is using Obama’s relationship with Kenya to cover up his tracks- especially his role in Kenya’s bungled elections of 2007.

If the truth be told, the Republican Administration that Ranneberger represented in Kenya suppressed the truth or at best misled the White House to endorse a flawed election in more ways than one. One such method was to hurriedly congratulate Kibaki for winning the elections. The other was to suppress the IRI Exit Poll results that were sponsored by USAID.

In this scheme of things, two operatives at UNDP and the World Bank Country Director were in the know.
It is common knowledge that once the American administration changes, most ambassadors that serve under Republican or Democratic administrations are recalled depending on which party is replacing which at the White House.

It is wrong to retain an ambassador who now pretends to know what is good for Kenyans yet when Kenyans needed him to stand firm and neutral he wavered left and right.

But the most disgusting thing is this desire by Kenyans to follow blindly one foreigner who will not miss an opportunity to abuse Kenyans and their country under the pretext of fighting for reforms. Worse still, prominent Kenyans; some of them former holders of prominent public offices can actually find time to cheer him on!

What is it that these Kenyans can do, now that they are out in the cold which they couldn’t do when they were in Parliament or serving in influential commissions in this country? When they were in office, they looted public coffers just like the rest of our leaders. Now that they are out; suddenly they are our next saviors! Give us a break brothers and sisters; we are not that dumb.

The other day I watched the Indian general elections, a land of 1.9 billion people. And I started thinking aloud. I realized that if just 10% of their population voted, they would have to count 190 million voters to decide a winner. It never took them long to announce the winner.

How long did it take us to announce the results of just 10 million voters? It took forever and finally we never knew the winner.

The beauty of a working democracy saw Indian Prime Minister name a cabinet of 19 ministers from outside parliament; one cabinet post per 100 million people!
Here in Kenya, for a mere 35 million people with an economy that grows at 1.7% we load ourselves with a cabinet of 90 politicians that cannot even prepare a supplementary budget let alone scrutinize it!
So much for our democracy!