Kibaki The lame Duck President..

Posted on July 18, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The embarassment caused to the President by the party in which he is the only individual member – the incongruously named Party of National Unity (PNU) – has helped to debunk two fallacies:
One is the relevance of the President as a player in the current political equation, and the other about the place of politics in the normal order of things.  President Kibaki became a lame-duck on February 28, 2008, immediately he signed the grand coalition deal that ushered in the twin-headed governance structure.

  And Kenyans will be happy to know that their perpetual preoccupation with politics is not an aberration. Every society politicks all the time; it is the quality and purpose of politicking that differs.

  When the parties affiliated to PNU met and the bigger among them shut out the President’s proposal that they coalesce into one large entity to effectively stave off ODM’s onslaught in Parliament and fully enjoy the public funds available since July 1, the message was simple – he has no role to play in how politics shapes up in the coming years.  

Had he wanted to be relevant, at least for five years, he should have picked up Raila Odinga’s gauntlet for a re-run of the December 2007 polls. A clean electoral mandate would have assigned him the prerogative to bribe, cajole or browbeat party members into seeing things his way.  

By signing away half of the powers of the presidency to someone so unambiguously ambitious and so ruthless in the pursuit of that power, he signalled his willingness to be a ‘‘ceremonial’’ president for the remainder of this term.  

Not that he has much to lose in the process – he simply wanted to be president, just like he was in his first term.

Statements from Raila that the two work well together are actually true – one largely does not really care, the other has to work because he still aspires to be elected Kenya’s president.  

So you now know why he is officiating at all functions – those he has been invited to and those that Mr Kibaki has no time for, yes, even in Central Province. Strategy and energy are elements that Raila has never been short of.  

The second fallacy has flourished partly because of the dynamism of people like Raila who see in every event (or non-event) an opportunity to chase his ambition to rule.  

The grouse we hear often is that politics dominates Kenya’s social interactions to an unhealthy degree. Our Vice-President lamented recently that we should shelve politics until the next round of electioneering, which will be in 2012. The President’s own ‘‘no vacancy’’ invocation exposed similar concerns.  

However, why should anyone think that Kenyans are any different from other nations? Show me any one country where politics is shelved after elections and I will show you a frozen system.  

In every society, apart perhaps from North Korea, two forces clearly define and shape social relationships and interactions – the ambition to lead and the desire to be rich (politics and money). Which of the two dominates is a function of the sophistication of business because money ultimately drives politics.  

The illusion that Western societies do less politics and more business is created and reinforced by the volumes of trade transacted and the sophistication of those markets.  

Of course there is the entertainment media’s almost total dominance of the attention of the youth and young at heart.  But politics is alive and well. It is just that little attention is paid to it except when mega-prices like the presidency or premiership of some rich country is being contested or investigated over corruption.  

In the less sophisticated economies like Kenya’s and those in most of Africa, politicians become the big players, the celebrities whose actions then take on a disproportionately large profile. This is evident in Uganda where President Museveni has a permanent cast of ‘‘peasants’’ he relies on to ward off the elite from ‘‘cities’’.  

It is there in every African country where destinies of countries are still shaped by what, when and how politicians say things, hand over power, and how they play one against the other.  

One reassuring fact for Kenya is that businesses are growing in size and sophistry, and with it, the dominance of politics is waning by the day.  

Sooner rather than later, what Bidco’s Vimal Shah or EABL’s Gerald Mahinda say will be bigger attention-grabbers than Raila’s or Danson Mungatana’s proclamations.  

But it will not mean that politics has been shelved; rather it will just have been right-sized and prioritised as appropriate.

By Tom mshindi


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kibaki is a coward people are tired thy want bold leadership

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