Root causes of Kenya’s problems

Kibaki at State House, Nairobi.

Kibaki at State House, Nairobi.

While President Mwai Kibaki will be remembered as the man who bungled an election so badly that the winner will never be known, Prime Minister Raila Odinga has the dubious distinction of inciting ethnic cleansing in full view of the media.

The 2007 elections were the first under a Kibaki presidency. The 2002 polls that got him into power were organized under the tenure of former president Daniel arap Moi. The maladministration of the 2007 elections by Kibaki makes former president Moi look like a Swiss democrat – which he is not.

President Kibaki lost his supporters for failing to protect them from marauding ethnic militias. According to the Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence, chaired by Justice Philip Waki, the government knew in advance that ethnic violence would erupt in parts of Kenya regardless of who won the 2007 elections. No action was taken and the result is at least 1,000 dead and hundreds of thousands unable to return home.

But then, this was not the first of Kibaki’s blunders and neither will it be the last. Kibaki won the 2002 elections under the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), a movement uniting most of Kenya’s politicians. Within one year, NARC was dead thanks to his moribund leadership. A politician who turns hope into despair can hardly be described as inspirational.

The disappearances and killings of thousands of Kenyans especially in the past two years is another cause of anger among Kenyans. Thousands of men and women have been grabbed from their homes in Nairobi, Central Province, Mount Elgon, Mandera and the Coast. The youths were tortured, killed and their bodies dumped in the bushes to be devoured by wild animals.

At the coast, Kenyan citizens were abducted from their homes by security forces and secretly flown to Ethiopia allegedly for sponsoring terrorism. Even the Ethiopians admitted that there was no evidence against the Kenyans but it took over a year for the Kenyan government to facilitate their return to the country.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga shares responsibility with Kibaki for Kenya’s woes. His personality-based battle for the presidency directly and indirectly led to the deaths of thousands of Kenyans.

A five year presidential campaign based on agitation against the Kikuyu ethnic group largely contributed to the violence that rocked the country after the 2007 elections. Between 2003 and 2007, Raila blamed the Kikuyu for his problems with President Kibaki. Diplomats, free from the delusion of reform espoused by the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), say the party was mostly an anti-Kikuyu alliance.

At the Coast, Rift Valley and Western provinces, Raila’s and ODM blamed poverty on the presence of Kikuyu settlers and business people. Unfortunately, poor rural youth believed the propaganda and voted for ODM in large numbers expecting to get land, shops, jobs and business opportunities. During the 2007 campaigns, Raila referred to the Kikuyu as ‘the enemy.’

As Raila was busy lighting ethnic fires, his first born son got engaged to a Kikuyu woman. Another son of Raila’s is close to a grandson of the late President Jomo Kenyatta and buddies with the son of a former top detective – all Kikuyu. Raila Odinga has gone into joint business with prominent Kikuyu personalities.

The other characters who comprise Kenya’s ruling elite are not any better. Most of them are linked to corruption scandals and ethnic incitement. Others are afflicted by poor character. Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka supported ODM’s ethnic-based campaign until he left the party a few months to the election. William Ruto has been implicated in ethnic violence and could easily find himself at the International Criminal Court. Musalia Mudavadi is widely viewed as a spineless politician whose claim to glory is his family name.

Uhuru Kenyatta, son of founding president Jomo Kenyatta, has also been blamed for ethnic violence and could end up alongside William Ruto at The Hague.

Politicians who wanted to form an Opposition to challenge President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila have been accused of hoarding millions of bags of maize, thereby driving up prices for the staple food. Incidentally, the politicians got approval from the Agriculture Ministry – headed by William Ruto.

Its not enough for legislators to decide to pay taxes and assume that Kenyans will be happy. The tax issue is a mere manifestation of a much bigger problem of impunity and lack of respect for the people. Even if the politicians succumbed to pressure and paid taxes, they will find another means of exploiting Kenyans.

Kenya does not have credible leaders at the current moment. The nation needs a complete change in leadership. None of the current crop of leaders should ever be allowed to hold any position anywhere in the republic. Kenyan leaders have reached the end of their usefulness: they cannot produce new ideas, but will merely recycle ethnic garbage to divide and conquer Kenyans.

Kenyan leaders are not for the prosperity of the people but are interested in pursuing the status quo of privilege for the few. That explains why government appointments only benefit their family and friends. The President, Prime Minister and cabinet ministers have filled the government with their brothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends, cousins and grand children.

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Mass action updates – 16 December 2008

Mass action updates as at 17:30hrs Kenyan time.

– Maseno student leader arrested for distributing T-shirts urging MPs to pay tax. President Mwai Kibaki is scheduled to attend the university’s graduation tomorrow.

– Tomorrow’s media demonstration in Nairobi against the Communications Bill 2008 banned by police.

Mass action update – 14th December 2008

Mass action updates as at 16:15 Kenyan time.

  • Kenyan paramilitary police seal off Uhuru Park following reports of planned rallies.
  • Mwalimu Mati and his wife released from Langata Police Station following protests and blockading of Langata Road by civil society activists.
  • Police seal Kariakor roundabout after Mungiki threaten to demonstrate in the city.
  • Demonstrators dispersed from Ufungamano House.
  • Oscar Foundation head arrested.

Reports by Citizen TV, Nation Media and Capital FM.

Jamhuri Day mass action updates

Dozens of protesters were arrested at Nairobi’s Nyayo Stadium for expressing disgust at Kenyan legislators for receiving large allowances amidst inflation and food shortages that have worsened life for the poor.

Kiss FM’s Caroline Mutoko, Classic 105’s Mwalimu King’ang’i and radio personality Nyambane were whisked away from Nyayo Stadium, where President Mwai Kibaki was due to address the nation.

The organizer of the protest, Mwalimu Mati of Mars Group, was surrounded by a police contingent and driven to the Langata police divisional offices.

People dressed in black T-shirts as a mark of protest were turned away by police officers at the stadium grounds.

Meanwhile, Jamhuri Day celebrations in the port city of Mombasa were drowned by heckling from the crowd. From the North Eastern Provincial headquarters at Garissa, Citizen Radio reports that four youths were arrested for expressing dissatisfaction with Kenyan legislators.

Hours before the national celebrations, the government issued a warning against demonstrations and other forms of political expression during Jamhuri (Independence Day) celebrations.

The journalists and Mwalimu Mati were leading a show of disgust against members of parliament for refusing to pay taxes on their allowances. Kenyan politicians are among the best paid in the world.

The journalists are also angered by a new media law that allows the Kenyan government to raid media outlets and disable broadcast equipment at will. It is beleived that Parliament passed the bill to intimidate the media from speaking out against their hefty perks.

Apologies, but we’re back!

Greetings to all esteemed readers of the Nairobi Chronicle,

As the Chief Editor, I wish to express my apologies for being off-line for a whole week since last Friday. I suddenly found myself swamped with work and even had to travel outside my normal work station to a rural area without internet connections. However, I am now back and going through your comments as well as your story ideas.

I much appreciate this and I really am encouraged. I will do all I can in the next couple of days to “catch up” with your comments and emails. We are also working on this side to ensure that future interruptions are kept to as minimal as possible.

Its our hope that you continue visiting the Nairobi Chronicle for news and features from Kenya. Have a wonderful day!

The CHIEF EDITOR

 

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