KENYA: Blame sharing in Grand Coalition

By Standard on Sunday Reporter


If it is not about who muddled the 2007 presidential election, it isabout whose side is more corrupt. When one side accuses the other ofinability to lead, the response from the other end is that you, too,are ineffective.

But there is a new side to the blame game. Enquiries reveal that withinRaila's Orange Democratic Movement there is growing fear that by 2012in the eye of the public, there would be little difference between itand President Kibaki's Party of National Unity.

That is how the dismissal of President Kibaki as moribund' and Railaas "ineffective PM" by the National Council of Churches of Kenya wasreceived.

ODM sees the latest attack on Kibaki and Raila, in equal measuredespite the fact that executive authority rests with the President, asa blame sharing' strategy.

ODM secured a place in government on the platform that Kibaki's victorywas illegitimate while the country fought. It fought the election onthe platform of change and anti-corruption.

The more the tag both sides stole the elections takes root, the fasterODM loses the moral high ground it claimed when it entered government.

It is also true that the more the country resigns to the fate that bothODM and PNU ministers are eating', the less the differences betweenthe two blocs before the eyes of Kenyans.

Bait, line and sinker

Then there are those in ODM who think their precarious position – inwhich they feel the 50-50 per cent sharing of power exist only on paper- is deliberate and their captain has swallowed the bait line andsinker.

They point to the gusto with which he has promised changes and sackingsthat are yet to come, and the enthusiasm with which he first went aboutthe proposed Mau Forest evictions – which is expected to hurt himpolitically.

Though its strategic importance as the main water tower is notdebatable, the question in ODM remains why Raila accepted to be used'.

Rating of government

Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang' said a few months ago, the partywas fighting and would be hurt by someone else's war. He pointed outthat it was PNU that re-invited the inhabitants of Mau Forest during2007 campaigns and so should be at the forefront in sorting out itsmess.

Appreciating the magnitude of the problem it has stirred, Raila thismonth said he was not like a dog that gives birth and eats its puppies.He meant he would not turn against his supporters, who form the bulk ofthose who could be evicted from the Mau Forest.

The foundation of the blame-sharing' is the perception the coalitionhas failed, the rating of government continues to plummet, and alreadycalls for fresh elections have been made. The situation has beenaggravated by President Kibaki's laidback style of management andperception that he lacks the fire in the belly to confront corruptionand impunity – the two pillars some argue his regime is built on.

In ODM the frustration stems from the fact that the Civil Serviceremains intact and the PM has only pushed through a negligible numberof appointments.

On the other hand, the President's old friends, including formerministers, remain the beneficiaries of key appointments. They includeMr Raphael Tuju, Mr Kipruto arap Kirwa, Prof Kivutha Kibwana, Mr RashidShakombo and Mr Njeru Ndwiga.

This is the flipside of the coalition that on February 28, last year,brought together political adversaries who could literally strangleeach other if put on one table. Today the more they accuse each other,the more they look and sound the same.

Between ODM and PNU there is an equal measure of alleged corrupt deals,mismanagement of resources, and politicking. And although thepoll-rigging claim was initially associated with President Kibaki andPNU, this perception is slowly changing over time. ODM has graduallylost the propaganda war and Raila, whose poll lead of over a millionvanished within hours in highly suspicious circumstances, is todayswimming in the same dirt.

Loser in the game

The Minister for Justice Martha Karua, borrowing the verdict of SouthAfrican retired judge, Johann Kriegler, told students at Moi Universitythat the two principals were "as per Kriegler report guilty of pollrigging. NCCK followed it up by calling for fresh elections and iscurrently collecting at least one million signatures, to push for this.

ODM is struggling to retain its identity as it sinks deep in the abyssof an increasingly unpopular government. While Kibaki is serving hislast and final term, the real loser in the game could be ODM, and Railain particular, who has his eyes set beyond the 2012 General Election.

"Kibaki as a lame duck president no longer appeals to Central Province.Agwambo (PM) was beginning to gain popularity among residents until hebegan repeating the same mistakes Kibaki made," Kanu Secretary forLegal Affairs Justin Muturi, told The Standard on Sunday.

Curse of last term

He said the locals were on the verge of desperation and regretting whythey voted for Kibaki. This feeling was accentuated by the new economicand political challenges. But like Kibaki, Muturi now observes Raila,too, has begun to disappoint. Assistant Roads Minister Lee Kinjanjuirefers to what is happening as the "unfortunate curse of a last termpresident".

"This is a political disease that happens everywhere in the world,including the US. A president's last term is always far from perfectand there is a tendency of his lieutenants defying him to chart theirown succession plan," observes the Nakuru Town MP.

Whichever way, the overriding feeling on both sides is the 2012 GeneralElection could be fought on platform of 2007 electoral theft.

The Standard on Sunday

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