By Jerry Okungu
December 30 2011
As the year comes to a close, many Kenyans will thank God that finally the worst year is gone for good.
It was indeed a year of many challenges for us as a nation and at times a bad year for many individuals.
At the personal level, it was the year Prof. Peter Anyang fell ill with prostate cancer and had to spend sometime in Sanfransisco undergoing treatment. Five months later, yours truly had to experience the same ailment and was to be hospitalized in Nairobi for five weeks before being flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for further treatment.
Later in the year, Kenyans had to lose two prominent Kenyans to other forms of cancer. Prof Wangari Mathai our only Nobel Peace Laureate succumbed to ovarian cancer as one of our Court of Appeal judges also succumbed to another form of cancer.
On the political side, Kenyans did not fare well either. Our six prominent Kenyans were finally taken to The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity following the 2007 post election violence. Despite protests and blame game that became the trade mark of the MPs and other leaders affected, they finally appeared at The Hague for preliminary hearings in April and September 2011. As I write this article, they are anxiously waiting to hear if their charges will be dropped or proceed to full trial.
While on The Hague trials, the Kenya government did not fare well either in trying to block the ICC hearings for the Ocampo Six. Attempts to lobby the AU, individual African leaders that included the toppled Muamar Kaddafi and UN Security Council members to prevail over the ICC to defer the Kenyan cases fell on deaf ears. The aggressive shuttle diplomacy that was partially conducted by one arm of the Coalition government only managed to swallow millions of Kenyan shillings with nothing to show for it.
It was also the year of national embarrassment when several MPs chose to escort the Ocampo Six to The Hague and made fools of themselves by singing on the streets of The Hague in solidarity with the charged politicians. Unfortunately when they got to the ICC, they were barred from entering the court room. And just like ordinary Kenyans they had left in Kenya, they were forced to follow the proceedings on television screens.
On the economic side, it was a terrible year for Kenyans when the Kenya shilling became the worst performing currency in the world by losing 30% of its value in just three months. When the shilling fell from 80 to 107 to the dollar in just weeks, inflation shot through the roof from a mere under 6 to 19.6 a 300% rise in just ten months. As this slide continued, fuel pumps also jumped from Ksh 80 a litre to Ksh 124 per litre, the highest fuel pump price that Kenyans had ever seen. With those two steep rises, all prices of basic commodities suddenly became unaffordable for most Kenyan households. However, this national economic disaster did not deter the National Assembly Speaker from ordering new chairs for Parliamentarians at a cost of Ksh 200,000 a piece despite public protest.
On the brighter, Kenyan athletes did Kenya proud by winning many gold medals around the globe and at times either breaking world records or just generally coming tops in every long distance race.
Another gem in our lives was when Kenyans came together to raise close to Ksh 700 million to feed the nearly 10 million Kenyans facing starvation despite the AU summit failing to raise any substantive amount of money at the special summit to discuss famine in the Horn of Africa.
Having had such a year of mixed fortunes, what do we expect in 2012?
We expect the Ocampo Six cases to be settled one way or another so that we can move on with general elections. We also expect the High Court to decide whether we will hold elections in August 2012 as stipulated in the constitution or push it to December 2012 as the IEBC chairman prefers. Either way, we will have elections in 2012.
The year will also see President Kibaki joining Daniel arap Moi in retirement leaving the succession battle wide open. This means that before 2012 ends, Kenyans will know who their new President will be from among the ten plus contenders who have announced their interest.
The year will also usher in new administration units as the provincial administration disappears from our life. The first casualty will be the Provincial Commissioners and DCs who will be replaced by elected County Governors, their deputies, chief officers and County Assemblies. Also to disappear from our political realm will be municipal, city and county councils together with their mayors, chairmen and councillors.
At the national level, we expect to elect not just the President and MPs but Senators as well whose job will be to guarantee the well being of county governments and where possible, impeach the President or Cabinet Secretaries and any other constitutional office holder where necessary.
However, what will capture the imagination of many Kenyans will be three events; the battle between the Attorney General and the Chairman of the Constitution Implementation Commission as the struggle to implement the constitution to the letter without amendments takes center stage. Also of interest will be how the Ocampo Six cases develop at The Hague. In the event they are acquitted or charged, how will the decision impact Kenyan politics?
However, the mother of all battles will indeed be the presidential race! Will the G7 or G47 hold together against the ODM nominee? Will Kalonzo Musyoka, William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta go it alone or come together merely to stop Raila Odinga from becoming Kenya’s 4th President?
In the event that Kalonzo, Uhuru and William Ruto find their names on the ballot box, where will this scenario leave Eugene Wamalwa, Omingo Magara, Moses Wetangula, and Ali Makwere who have also declared their interest in the race under PNU Alliance? Will Uhuru Kenyatta contest the presidency under KANU leaving PNU to George Saitoti?
The 2012 calendar is definitely packed for Kenyans.