By Jerry Okungu
June 25, 2011
This week there were reports that the Ugandan opposition leaders have taken their campaign against Museveni to Western Capitals in London and Washington. The aim here is to impress it upon donor communities that the regime in Kampala does not deserve Western support because the elections that gave Museveni another five year term were not free and fair. The other line they are likely to peddle is that the government back home is corrupt resulting in donor money being squandered by the elite in the Museveni regime.
Mr. Mao, a noted Ugandan opposition leader is reported to have kept a 24 hour vigil outside the gates of the White House in the hope that President Obama would give him a hearing. And as Mao was probably winding up his vigil at the White House gates, another Ugandan journalist, Charles Bukenya planned a hunger strike at the same venue until Obama agrees to see him! This is a very interesting development considering that President Obama has mountains of his own problems that he must solve before he attends to numerous picketing individuals that are a permanent feature at the White House. May be a text message on his blackberry would reach him faster.
However if Museveni is the issue, how about keeping vigil or going on hunger strike outside the gates of the Presidential palace in Entebbe? Think about it. It might just move Museveni to tears and convince him to make concessions!
Three weeks ago there were reports in the Kenyan press that our leading opposition leaders, some of who are candidates for The Hague trials later this year had met with Presidents Jakaya Kikwete and Yoweri Museveni to map out strategies on how to stop Raila Odinga from winning the 2012 presidential elections. During those meetings, it was alleged that the two presidents had agreed to help Ruto and company to raise Ksh 10 billion for the 2012 presidential race.
Personally I dismissed such allegations as idle talk even if the Ruto – Uhuru alliance held discussions with Kikwete and M7.
Consider this: Ksh 10 billion is the equivalent of US $ 150million; the kind of money that makes the headlines whenever a donor or the World Bank gives it to a country. And knowing how the economies of East African partner states are struggling to make ends meet, it would be the height of recklessness and political suicide if the two heads of state were to squander their resources to finance a foreign political campaign
There are two things we must consider in the actions taken by the Ugandan opposition chiefs and their Kenyan counterparts. First, campaigns in foreign capitals against home governments will not change the situation at home unless NATO allies decide to bomb Uganda in support of the opposition chiefs. As long as the same governments choose to do business with Uganda, no amount of demonstrations in London and Washington will change things in the streets of Kampala. Someone like Ambassador Olara Otunu should tell them how futile such an exercise can be because he was in that game for decades when he worked for the United Nations in New York.
The Kenyan situation is even more intriguing considering that the two presidents alleged to be plotting with Ruto and Uhuru are senior members of the East African Community. If indeed they undertake to underwrite the opposition campaign and their candidate loses, where will that debacle leave the unity of East Africa? Can the two heads of state be naïve enough to sacrifice the EAC dream on the altar of political expediency?
For those who may not understand Kenyan politics, there are a few things that Kenyans deeply detest. Much as they will fight and kill each other over almost everything under the sun, mention of external foreign interference rallies Kenyans together like nothing else. The voters will reject anybody perceived to be a puppet of some super power because Kenyans dread recolonization.
Another thing; the masses of Kenya tasted the blood of political anarchy in 2007-2008. If any leader in the region is imagining that he can manipulate Kenya’s elections in his favour, this time it will not be just Kenya burning. The whole of East Africa will be in turmoil. And being the largest economy in the region, the effect will be felt beyond Uganda and Tanzania. Burundi, Rwanda and even the DRC will feel the heat.
However in retrospect, now Kenyans are beginning to piece together where the Ruto-Ruto alliance would get their Ksh. 10 billion from. The money would come not from Jakaya Kikwete or Yoweri Museveni as we were earlier made to believe. An activist in Kenya called Mwalimu Mati has gone through Uhuru’s 2011-2012 budgets and detected some very interesting mathematical “errors” that if Parliament passed unnoticed would have easily facilitated the release of Ksh 10 million to the opposition to which the Finance Minister belongs.
This theory cannot be farfetched if you consider that the budget in the Kenya Embassy at The Hague jumped from Ksh 3 million to 9 million in anticipation of The Hague trials for the Ocampo Six; never mind that under normal circumstances, the Kenya government should not bear the burden of feeding The Hague suspects as that responsibility belongs with the ICC.
In the 2011-2012 budgets The Hague Embassy has details of tea, cakes, mandazis and other things that go with tea. One wonders how much tea and goodies the Ocampo Six can consume in a year worth US 100,000!
Now that Mwalimu Mati h as punched holes in to the Uhuru budget, which the Treasury has quickly dismissed as false allegations, Kenyans are waiting to see how Parliament will handle these allegations if indeed they exist. Let us hope Parliament will not sleep on the job as Treasury continues to fund fictitious projects as Mati says.