Thursday, June 18, 2009



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
June 18, 2009

The silence is deafening. The guns have gone silent. The American Ambassador to Kenya seems to have either run out of steam, funds for the youth revolution or both. Or may be the State Department has asked him to slow down on Kenyan politics. May be he has been told to do what diplomats are supposed to do in the first place; use quiet diplomacy to achieve better results.

Suddenly, so many voices are quiet on the Kenyan political scene. Perhaps these voices are quiet because Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki are back on track working together. Just goes to show how our politics revolve around just two men in this country.

When Raila and Mwai Kibaki disagree on a small issue; mandarins take over almost as fast. Suddenly there is a flurry of press conferences called by this or that political caucus, the Civil Society or foreign missions based in Kenya. Suddenly alarm bell s are ringing that Kenya is on the verge of round two of the 2007-2008 mayhem. And before we know it, there are dispatches from Washington descending upon us to warn us that we must get our acts together or else…..

Reflecting on January 2008 when the 10th. Parliament opened, one wonders where ODM hotheads like Ababu Namwamba who even refused to take the oath of allegiance to the President are today. It is hard to imagine that young political radicals can run out of steam in just one year of active parliamentary service. Compared to the likes of Martin Shikuku, Koigi Wamwere, James Orengo, Raila Odinga, Kiraitu Murungi, Gitobu Imanyara, Martha Karua, the late Wamalwa Kijana and Charity Ngilu, these latter day hotheads have proved that they were indeed amateurs in the world of real politik. Indeed Kenyan politics is like a long distance race. It requires stamina to remain on the race because the distance is long and tortuous.

After being derailed from forming their grand opposition, young Turks have been rendered moribund and lost like sheep inn the wilderness. All we can hear from time to time are their whimpers in the august house when they are either derailing anti-corruption censor motions against this or that minister. In this regard, one ODM MP has specialized in taking an opposing stand on every issue that ODM has championed. We saw it during the Tribunal debate and again during the Philip Alston controversy.
Close examination of their behavior indicates “despise for sour grapes”.

Some of them indeed expected to be in the cabinet and when they missed out, they went ballistic. It is rumored that during their 2007 campaign, they had generously used the names of their party leaders with claims that due to their personal relations with them, their cabinet posts were assured. Now it is payback time. Their constituencies are asking for the flags they were promised; hence the hostility to their mother parties.

To complicate matters, the newly enacted Political Parties’ law prohibits them from defecting to other parties or undermining such parties as was the case in the 9th parliament. This time round, they can only do so if they want to commit political suicide.

If there is one thing sitting MPs dread the most in Kenya is to be subjected to a by-election when there is no guarantee that the incumbent will come back to the august house. Hence the decision to stay put for five years despite the anger from within.

So, what then is in store for our radicals in the 10thparliament? Can they afford to cut their teeth as James Orengo and the five “bearded sisters” did during the hostile days of the Njonjo era? Are there enough issues that they can rally around as a group and bring about effective oversight in the august house? Or, are they mere appendages of the big and established political players who made their parliamentary dreams possible in the first place? Are they cohesive enough to hunt like a pack or are they lone rangers as they go about the business of the house?

During the maize scandal, some of them were rumored to have immensely benefited from allocations at the National Cereals Board. Could this be the reason their blazing guns have gone silent? Are they part of the group rumored to be on the take during crucial votes in the august house? Are they some of the rumored lot for hire?

If this be the case, can Kenyans say goodbye to the grand opposition that was for along time in the offing? Or could it be the rivalry among them that has quietly scuttled the grand opposition agendum? Don’t tell me that the idea is dead because the new house rules together with the new Political Parties’ law are to blame for the grand coalition’s still birth.

Perhaps the baby mothers conspired with the midwives to abort the pregnancy for the good of the country. Kenya needs fewer hecklers during this transition period. We have enough squabbles between coalition partners to last us three more years.