Kenya’s political scene would have been more stable today had Raila Odinga been appointed prime minister in 2003, one of former President Mwai Kibaki’s confidantes has claimed in a book,’The Native Son’, to be launched next month.
In the book, he admits he prefers an advisory role,mostly to ensure a conducive business environment.
His disinterest in political office
seems to derive from what he thinks is the dishonesty and chaotic nature of “the dirty game” in Kenya. “Matatu politics”, he calls it, comparing the survival-of-the-fittest tactics to the notoriously messy public transport system.
That he was in the engine room of the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) campaigns in 2002 is not
in doubt — even serving as chairman of the presidential election board that helped remove Kanu from power.
“It was like the doors of a pitch-dark bunker had suddenly been flung open to let in the daylight.
Liberties that had long been unimaginable were now there for the taking,” he writes.
Wanjui admits the key role of Mr Odinga in delivering the victory — starting from the “Kibaki Tosha” endorsement to leading the campaigns.
“I personally can vouch for the fact that Raila Odinga was the most energetic campaigner for Kibaki in the 2002 election campaign,” he writes.
However, the author regrets that the Narc honeymoon did not last long with disagreements between the Kibaki and Odinga factions.
A contentious Memorandum of Understanding between the two sides, which Kibaki’s National
Alliance Party of Kenya was alleged to have dishonoured, particularly caused much tumult with Odinga’s Liberal Democratic Party turning into the opposition within government.
“It all boiled down to trust — or rather lack of it,” he notes.
Wanjui strongly believes that had Odinga been made Prime Minister — even without executive powers — Narc would have remained stable and so would the political scene today.
“I am not a politician, but the ethos of the private sector in which I have worked provides for rewards— or compensation, if you like — commensurate with the work done,” he writes.
He believes that even though the then Constitution did not expressly have the PM’s position, it would
neither have been unconstitutional nor eroded the President’s powers.
The author, however, reveals he was part of a team that unsuccessfully attempted reconciliation.
“Long before the breach became final, there were many meetings held in an apartment in Nairobi’s
Lower Hill area (in Nairobi) when serious efforts were made to patch up the differences and restore
the relationship … Everything from the alleged MoU to the prime ministerial position was put on the
table,” writes Wanjui.
But the fallout continued into the defeat of the government side in the 2005 referendum, a Cabinet reshuffle that ejected the Odinga faction, the subsequent formation of the Orange Democratic Movement and eventually the contentious 2007 elections.
President Kibaki was to later form the Grand Coalition Government in 2008 with Odinga as PM in the wake of the post-election violence.
Nonetheless, Wanjui believes that Kenyans had become so used to Moi’s dictatorship for more than
two decades that when President Kibaki took over in 2003, they had trouble adjusting to the new reality and kept asking, “Why isn’t the President speaking out? Why isn’t he reading the riot act to errant ministers? Why doesn’t he respond to his opponents? Why is he so quiet?”
This, he suggests, was like the biblical story of the children of Israel who started asking for the chicken
they ate during bondage in Egypt instead of God’s free manna.
“With time, Kenyans will fully begin to realise that oppression does not equate to order, or liberty to
chaos. The give and take of democracy is always messy. Yet in the end, it is the most liberating
factor of all,” he writes.
Comparing the Kanu rule to Narc, Wanjui believes a “fundamental difference” between Kibaki and his
immediate predecessor (Moi) is that Kibaki is an educated man.
He finds it ironical that Moi seemed
to have dedicated his time fundraising to build schools and promoting education, but at the same time “showed strange aversion to educated people”,the likes of the late Professor George Saitoti,Dr, Josephat Karanja,among others.
“He was more comfortable surrounding himself with cronies and court jesters who had barely gone to school like Ezekiel Barng’etuny, Kariuki Chotara and Mulu Mutisya,” writes Wanjui.
This may have reflected on Kenya’s policies for decades, even though he admits Moi is a pleasant man at a “personal level”.
“Moi may not have been like(Uganda’s Iddi) Amin,but his obsession with political survival and his lack of economic imagination drove Kenya to her lowest post-Independence level, just as Amin did with Uganda,” he writes, criticising the killing of investment during the Nyayo era.
Wanjui acknowledges the transformative power of Kibaki’s 10 years in office.
The new Constitution,economic progress, big infrastructure projects,
freedoms, regional integration, free primary education, and improved tax collection are among the highlights.
“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®