Wednesday, February 17, 2010



By Jerry Okungu
February 15, 2010

As mainstream media salivate and excite every one to watch the unfolding drama between the President and his Prime Minister, let Kenyans not even think of celebrating. As political activists and opportunists stoke the fires of ethnic politics so that there can be a fallout, let Kenyans be weary of their intentions. There is so much at stake now that this country cannot afford to go back to those dark days of 2007 and 2008.

Let us sober up and bring the two principals to their senses. Individual egos aside, let reason prevail for once at this point in time. The reason I’m pitching for reason and good old common sense is because there is so much at stake regarding reforms that are in the pipeline. If the two principals fall out, the first casualty will be Kofi Annan’s negotiated Agenda 4, the new constitution and all those institutional reforms that have been lined up.

Of immediate concern to all Kenyans is the possibility of ethnic flare up in Kenya’s political hotspots. Already there are rumors that ethnic tensions are building up in parts of Nyanza and Rift Valley. Such tensions are not good for this country, neither are they good for any community. In a conflict situation, everyone hurts and loses in the end. It is impossible to imagine another conflict when IDPs of the 2007and 2008 conflict have not all been resettled. Things can only get worse if not get out of control.

As we await the opening of Parliament in the next week or so, let us bear in mind that a polarized political atmosphere were are witnessing right now will find its way into the august house on February 23. MPs from both sides of the political divide will most likely enter the house of reason with guns blazing. And as they sit to wait for written speeches from the President and the Speaker, it may be the only sane moment thereafter.

When Parliament opens in a few days, it is expected to debate the draft constitution and pass it for onward submission to the AG before Kenyans go to the referendum. However, if partisan politics take centre stage, my bet is that the draft constitution will die on the floor of the house and possibly be buried there the same day. It will therefore be another lost opportunity to give Kenyans what they have hunted for in a long, long time.

With a polluted political atmosphere, the fight against corruption, reclaiming the Mau Forest and Ocampo’s dealing with the lords of impunity will all be dead in their tracks because KACC will be afraid to arrest those corrupt warriors that enjoy political security from either of the two principals.

The security forces will be hard pressed to move to Mau Forest to evict illegal land owners if they are not so sure who is giving the orders. More scaring is the fact that criminal gangs hired to protect land grabbers will be so bold as to thwart government efforts in the knowledge that there is conflict at the top.

The other casualty will be the economic growth that had started showing signs of recovery from an all time low of 1% following the 2007 aftermath. If we derail the reforms and drive a wedge between communities, violence will follow as sure as sunset follows sunrise. If that happens then we must say goodbye to economic growth and brace ourselves for hard times ahead.

But perhaps the biggest casualty will be our relationship with the international community at two fronts. First there will be this feeling that Kenyans can no longer be able to govern themselves without international intervention. It will be most embarrassing that every time our leaders differ, we must run to the international community for arbitration.

Others will be asking what went wrong the Kenya of yesteryears that was more famous for brokering peace among its warring neighbors than fomenting civil strife within its borders. Somalis and Sudanese will be wondering aloud what went wrong with their former haven of peace.

However, with the United States and the EU slowly getting fed up with the slow pace of reforms, a complete halt to these reforms will ignite another round of condemnation with more of our leaders being quarantined within our borders. International aid will freeze if not be completely cut off. Possible sanctions against Kenya may not be far away especially if politically induced violence will erupt again.

This is the time to know what type metal our parliamentarians are made of. This is the time for our MPs to stand up to the two principals and tell them the truth; that Parliament will not follow them blindly in their personal differences at the expense of our nation.

This is the time to remind our leaders that reforms for this country are more important than any individual politician. This is the time when our country must be seen to be greater than any one of us. Therefore our political leaders must hold their horses and let us conclude the constitutional process and other reforms in the pipeline for the good of this great country’s future generations.