By Jerry Okungu
March 6, 2013
Kenya’s 2013 general elections will go in history as one the most vicious for the established political class. It felled more cabinet ministers than one can care to remember. It would appear as if the Kenyan voter was upset with the greedy 10th parliament that robbed them blind day in day out for the past five years. And when an opportunity occurred for them to deal a blow to the outgoing honorable members of the august house, they grabbed it and inflicted maximum pain.
Let us start with the former ODM Pentagon members who campaigned with Raila Odinga against Mwai Kibaki in 2007. These members were William Ruto of Rift Valley, Charity Ngilu of Kitui Central, James Orengo, Joe Nyagah of Embu, Musalia Mudavadi of Western Province, and Najib Balala of the Coast. Four of these individuals became part of the Annan Peace Team that negotiated a shared power arrangement with Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity. And for their efforts that year, they were rewarded with ministerial posts as follows: James Orengo- Ministry of Lands, Charity Ngilu- Ministry of Water, Joe Nyagah- Ministry of Cooperatives, William Ruto- Ministry of Agriculture, Musalia Mudavadi- Ministry of Local Government and Najib Balala- Ministry of Tourism.
However, as the impact of the 2008 violence began to take effect with the possibility of prosecution of planners of violence dawned on the political class; cracks started developing on both sides of the grand coalition. These cracks got wider as it dawned on the political class that Mwai Kibaki was serving his last term and a successor was required in late 2012. This latter realization necessitated political realignments on both sides of the divide.
With time, we had all sorts of political groupings such as G47 Alliance, G7Alliance and Simama Kenya. At the end of 2012, these early alliances had mutated into four distinct political alliances such as CORD Alliance, Jubilee Alliance, Amani Alliance and Eagle Alliance. With these formations, Raila Odinga lost all his Pentagon members most of whom joined Jubilee and Amani Alliances headed by Uhuru Kenyatta and Musalia Mudavadi, his former deputy prime ministers.
Meanwhile another ODM kingpin, William Ruto who was also the ODM Deputy Party Leader had also defected to three different parties, finally settling in Jubilee Alliance with Najib Balala, Charity Ngilu and Joe Nyagah. However, when the election results were announced, all former ODM Pentagon ministers mysteriously lost their seats! Was this poetic justice?
The grand coalition right from February 28 2008 had one of the largest Cabinet in Africa considering the small population of Kenya with its modest economy. Of the 42 cabinet ministers, 22 on each side, a good number of them will not see the inside of parliament when it opens later this month.
The among the casualties of this voter anger are the Ministers for Justice, Foreign Affairs, Transport, Communications, Finance, Water, Roads, Regional
Development, Trade, Agriculture, Local Government, Housing, Cooperatives, Heritage, Environment and Forestry and Wild Life.
Other notable losers included Martha Karua, former Minister for Justice, former assistant minister Wakoli BIfwoli, former assistant minister Ayiecho Olweny, lawyer Gitobu Imanyara, Joshua Kutuny, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, Danson Mungatana, Kiema Kilonzo who wanted to become the Kitui County Governor and Ekwe Ethuro from Turkana.
Incidentally most of the ministers that lost the elections were either supporters of Jubilee Alliance or came from Jubilee and Amani zones. For example in Ukambani, only Charity Ngilu a Jubilee affiliate was the only cabinet casualty there. In Mombasa, Ali Makwere’s closeness to William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta did not save him. In Kisii, the Jubilee strongman, Prof Sam Ongeri was swept aside by Cord candidate Chris Obure.
Another lot of antagonistic MPs whose stock in trade was to insult and embarrass the President and Prime Minister must have danced their legs lame on the political platform. They over performed as national clowns to the chagrin of their electorate that decided that enough was enough even if their object of ridicule was Raila Odinga. This lot included Joshua Kutuny of Cherangany, Danson Mungatana of Garsen, Kiema Kilonzo of Kitui and his namesake Charles Kilonzo and Turkana counterpart Ekwe Ethuro all of who were shown the door by the electorate.
Having said the above, what angered the electorate so much that they chose to change the nation’s leadership in parliament?
One explanation is that most of the senior MPs that had for decades mismanaged national resources such as CDF, LATIF, Education funds, Youth Funds had chosen to move up the political ladder from constituency to Senate or County governments where the new constitution was allocating more resources. Having seen how the same MPs had raided the treasury from time to time to pay themselves lavishly while refusing to pay taxes, Kenyans chose to teach them a lesson. Whether this lesson will deter future elected leaders from engaging in economic crimes remains to be seen.
Meanwhile these fallen leaders must cool themselves under a banana stem for the next five years if they want to come back to the public arena.