Karua anger could ruin her presidential dreams

The resignation of Justice Minister Martha Karua from the Grand Coalition has sparked off a frenzy of realignments that will rock the political scene for weeks, if not months, to come and will likely impact the Kibaki succession.

Martha Wangari Karua

Martha Wangari Karua

It has been obvious for some time that Karua is not happy with her erstwhile political ally, President Kibaki. The two were together for most of the 1990s with Karua a legislator in Kibaki’s Democratic Party. Karua’s disillusion with Kibaki stems from his less-than-enthusiastic reception to her presidential bid.

Karua has stuck with Kibaki through thick and thin even back when he had been written off as a potential successor to former President Daniel arap Moi. Karua moved with Kibaki to the National Alliance for Change (NAC) back in 2001, which later evolved into the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC).

After the disputed 2007 elections, Karua made a mark for herself by engaging in wholehearted defence for President Mwai Kibaki. At one time, the United States and European envoys branded her, “an obstacle to peace” and threatened to blacklist her from ever visiting their countries. Such was her hardline stance in Kibaki’s defence that she worn many enemies across the country. Kibaki went on to keep the Presidency but had to share power with electoral rival, Raila Odinga.

It was from this experience that Karua began believing that she was cut out for bigger things. In her characteristic arrogant style, she dismissed Kibaki’s handlers as “cowards” for not coming out in his defence during the bitter post election talks that led to the formation of the Grand Coalition.

Karua abrasively announced that she was the only “man” around Kibaki. These statements did not endear her to the old, rich men around Kibaki and who collectively represent Kenya’s ruling elite.

Her announcement that she was contesting the next General Elections did not rouse the excitement she expected, especially from President Kibaki. By then, the President was beginning to look at Professor George Saitoti and Uhuru Kenyatta as potential successors. This led Karua to wonder aloud whether Kenyan politics had become the preserve of a few families, what is referred to as dynastic politics.

With time, Kibaki has settled on his godson, Uhuru, for grooming into the Presidency. Saitoti, in his usual style, has decided to lie low like an antelope but Karua explicitly stated how she felt about Kibaki’s choice.

Amidst criticism of premature campaigns, Karua boisterously announced that it was her democratic right to traverse the country soliciting votes. Even international chief mediator, Koffi Annan, criticized Karua for beginning presidential campaigns five years too early.

Last week’s appointment of judges without her knowledge despite being Justice Minister convinced Karua that she was no longer the favorite girl of the Kibaki club. She has chosen to quit and play her game openly without the shackles of collective cabinet responsibility. Whether this will help her presidential bid or sink her ambitions remains to be seen.

It is worth noting that former cabinet Minister in the Moi government, Simeon Nyachae, aroused great excitement when he resigned to fulfill his presidential ambitions. Three years later, in the 2002 elections, Nyachae could only garner less than 500,000 votes nationally.

Karua must be praying hard that a similar fate does not befall her.

UPDATE:

Karua ally, Danson Mungatana, resigns from government.

Hopeless Grand Coalition proves Annan right

A meeting called by Kenya’s Grand Coalition government collapsed in chaos on Saturday, further vindicating a widespread perception that President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are hopeless failures.

ali-gicheru_composite

Ironically, the retreat at the Kilaguni Lodge in the vast Tsavo National Park was meant to prove to the entire world that the Grand Coalition can solve its own problems without the need for international mediators such as former United Nations Secretary General Koffi Annan.

Kibaki and Raila, leading opposite camps of the giant coalition, could not agree on what to discuss at the much publicized meeting. Kibaki wanted to evaluate the performance of the coalition a year after its formation.

Raila and his ODM party not only wanted to renegotiate the terms of the partnership but want Chief Justice Evans Gicheru and Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali dismissed. Kibaki has already made his position clear, that the two will remain in government at least for now.

Yesterday’s events were both laughable and tragic at the same time. Laughable when senior government ministers appear in front of the press naively admitting their inability to function. Tragic because the fate of over 35 million Kenyans lies in the hands of bungling idiots who could not draft an agenda for a weekend meeting.

Though Koffi Annan is not known to gloat at the failure of others, he must be feeling that his work in Kenya is far from done. He had called both President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga for a meeting at Geneva base. Both shunned the meeting arguing that Kenya is a sovereign state that does not answer to foreign masters, or words to that effect.

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka told Annan that Kenya’s government could handle its own affairs and that international mediation was no longer necessary. Indeed, this is the reason why the Kilaguni meeting was called: to demonstrate that the key partners of the Grand Coalition could meet at a place and time of their choosing to discuss the way forward for Kenya. Too bad none of the partners actually knew what they were going to discuss.

Right from the start, both Kibaki and Raila had opposing views about the meeting. When Koffi Annan first issued his Geneva invitations a month ago, Raila was of the view that the National Accord that formed the Grand Coalition was going to be renegotiated. Raila has complained of not having enough power to enact reforms and that he should get a higher salary than Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka.

In reality though, Raila’s main concern is his inability to appoint ODM supporters to key government jobs as he promised during the 2007 election campaigns.

This is what is driving his calls for the dismissal of such key government personalities as Chief Justice Evans Gicheru, Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali. Raila wishes to appoint ODM affiliated personalities to the key positions in order to demonstrate his influence in government.

Raila further believes that Gicheru and Ali helped Kibaki consolidate his rather shaky electoral victory in the 2007 General Elections. Gicheru presided over the inauguration ceremony at State House on December 30th 2007 that gave Kibaki a second presidential term. Raila is also convinced that the post election violence could have forced Kibaki out of power if it wasn’t for the police and military.

The ongoing saga over the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) can also be seen in similar light. KAA Managing Director, George Muhoho, is a key ally of President Kibaki and his ouster would be a coup for Raila. However, it appears that Kibaki may have seen through the machinations and instructed Transport Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere to give Muhoho a one-year contract just to prove who is in charge of appointments.

It is interesting that the latest failure of the Grand Coalition comes after a sustained national campaign by both Kibaki and Raila to show that they are happily working together. 2009 began with the unravelling of massive corruption scandals involving Kibaki and Raila allies. The inability of the two principles to act against those stealing from the government was telling.

Opinion poll ratings give the Grand Coalition an approval rating of only 30%, making it more unpopular than the Moi government. Religious leaders accuse the Kibaki-Raila duopoly of poor leadership and have called for fresh elections which the government outrightly rejects. The release of the United Nations Special Rapporteur’s report implicating the Grand Coalition in the deaths and disappearances of thousands of youths didn’t do much to enhance the government credibility.

With these manifest failures, Kibaki and Raila have spent the last month traversing the country campaigning for their coalition. Kibaki has been creating new districts in an unprecedented frenzy aimed at wooing the public but civil servants are questioning the strategy behind the move. Both principal partners have been at pains to prove that the Grand Coalition will survive until the next General Elections in 2012.

When Koffi Annan made his Geneva invitations, both Kibaki and Raila closed ranks to prove that they did not need foreign interference to solve disputes within the Grand Coalition. Last Saturday’s retreat was the culmination of Kibaki and Raila’s cosying up together but the disastrous end shows that Kenyans are in for another rough ride.

With ODM saying that they will announce their next moves in coming days, it should now be obvious to Annan that his involvement with Kenya will last far longer than he originally thought.

Assertive Kibaki suprises Kenyans

Widely criticized for complacency, dilly-dallying and even cowardice, President Mwai Kibaki has lately come out in full force to show the people just who is in charge.

President Kibaki (right) at a national function with Chief of General Staff, Jeremiah Kianga.

President Kibaki (right) at a national function with Chief of General Staff, Jeremiah Kianga.

The President is touring the country and whenever he is in State House, he holds strategy meetings with leaders from across the political divide. Observers note that Kibaki is at his busiest since he took office on December 30th 2002.

Kibaki’s first term was marked by lethargy as he recovered from a near-fatal road accident he got while campaigning for the 2002 General Elections. It is widely believed that the President suffered a stroke while in office in the first few months of 2003. The affairs of government during Kibaki’s first term of office were largely run by a group of loyal aides most of whom were his buddies.

Today, Kibaki is back in his element. The Kibaki of today is the man that Kenyans knew before that disastrous accident of December 2002. He is clear minded, articulate and forceful. This was seen in Kisii last Tuesday when Kibaki pulled no punches in criticizing his own cabinet ministers.

“If you are a minister and you are dissatisfied with the Government, you either quit, be quiet or I will show you how to leave,” thundered Kibaki as the crowd watched in disbelief.

The President said he was angered by ministers who have been complaining about the Grand Coalition, without offering any solutions. “They remain silent during Cabinet meetings, but rush to complain to wananchi about the running of the Government,” said a visibly upset Kibaki.

After the rally, the Airforce helicopter carrying Kibaki to another venue almost crashed when its engine began spewing thick smoke. What did Kibaki do? He got out of the stricken chopper, got into another one then promptly went to address public gatherings elsewhere.

In the coming week, the President is expected to visit Western Province and is already making arrangements with Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, the highest ranking government official from the province.

If Kibaki had been this energetic right from January 2003, most of the problems we are experiencing today would have been avoided. The Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence blames Kibaki’s weak leadership during his first term of office for the near civil war in early 2008 that left at least 1,500 dead and divided the country’s people along ethnic lines.

“The post election violence therefore is, in part, a consequence of the failure of President Kibaki and his first Government to exert political control over the country or to maintain sufficient legitimacy as would have allowed a civilized contest with him at the polls to be possible,” wrote Commission Chairman, Justice Philip Waki.

Kibaki’s predecessor, ex-President Daniel arap Moi, had been a forceful personality in the previous 24 years. There was an entire generation of Kenyans who had not experienced any other style of leadership other than what Moi showed them. Moi’s hand was everywhere, he had something to say for everything under the sun. Moi was a micro-manager who made telephone calls to government officials at anytime of the day or night.

Kibaki on the other hand delegated his authority. He gave general directions without getting involved in day to day intricacies. He left Cabinet ministers and top government officials to operate independently. Looking back in hind sight, Kibaki now realizes he should have maintained closer supervision for the sake of maintaining order in government.

As Cabinet Ministers realized that Kibaki was not supervising them, the government literally ran amok. Decisions were made with little co-ordination. In some cases, government departments stagnated as officials used to Moi’s micro-management found themselves in the unfamiliar situation of having to decide for themselves. Amidst the apparent vacuum, over-ambitious politicians sought to fill the void.

Roads Minister Raila Odinga led a rebellion in the cabinet as he sought to capitalize on Kibaki’s absence from public view. At one point in mid-2003, politicians close to Raila discussed introducing a motion of no confidence in Parliament on grounds of the President’s ill health. Had the motion passed, the country would have been forced to hold fresh elections. However, Kibaki still enjoyed public support back then and the idea was shelved.

By 2007, Kibaki’s was spending so much time at State House that he had lost much of the support he won in 2002. In the meantime, the opposition was maintaining high public visibility and presented itself as a viable alternative to Kibaki.

Kibaki managed to squeeze into a second term of office in the disputed 2007 polls. Ironically, Raila’s reckless campaign drove millions of voters into electing Kibaki. Raila promised to redistribute jobs, businesses and land, to institute ethnic federalism (Majimbo) and to repossess government shares sold at the Nairobi Stock Exchange. These statements were scary to entrepreneurs, diplomats, land owners and those investing in shares.

It is now a year since Kibaki and Raila entered a Coalition of the Unwilling. Opinion polls show that the Giant Coalition is widely unpopular, with only 30% of Kenyans giving their approval. Ministers, Members of Parliament, Judges and top civil servants engage in endless squabbling over protocol and control. The government appears clueless as 10 million Kenyans suffer from famine. Unemployment is worsening amidst the global economic crisis. The failure of rains means that hunger and water shortages will worsen.

The President’s first wife and her children engage government officials in public wars through the media. Meanwhile, the President’s second wife is busy telling Kenyans that, “her man” will be retiring soon and that she will “identify” a suitable presidential successor.

As the Grand Coalition falters, Kibaki has began reasserting his Presidency across the country. If it wasn’t for the fact that he is constitutionally barred from running for a third time, Kibaki could as well be in campaign mode!

Kibaki’s experience shows that it will take a long time to undo Moi’s 24 year legacy. Kenyans must learn that it is not necessary for a president to attend public rallies in every school or market place in Kenya. As former Subukia legislator said when Moi left the Presidency in December 2002, “Moi is gone, but Moism will be with us for a long time.”

Lands ministry criticizes Jomo Kenyatta

A top official in Kenya’s Ministry of Lands has blamed founding leader Jomo Kenyatta for the country’s land conflicts, in remarks likely to justify land-driven ethnic clashes.

Permanent Secretary Dorothy Angote said that, “the colonialists left behind a lot of money to resettle the landless but the money was diverted.” Addressing a workshop, the Permanent Secretary admitted that, “the ruling class used land to bribe politically-correct individuals, rejecting the plight of landless Kenyans.”

Kenya is grappling with a land distribution crisis that has assumed violent characteristics due to ethnic politics. High population growth is placing increased pressures on land for farming and settlement. Most of Kenya’s population is concentrated on less than 30% of the land. Politicians, eager to win votes from their own ethnic groups, have in recent years demanded for land settled by immigrant communities. In parts of the Rift Valley, large numbers of Kikuyu, Kisii and Luhya farmers have been evicted by Kalenjin youth who went ahead and subdivided farms amongst themselves.

The Coast province is also home to large numbers of immigrants. Lands Minister James Orengo has said that he will review land ownership in favor of local ethnic groups. The remarks have intensified ethnic tension at the coast as unemployed coastal youths demand for what they call, “the land of our ancestors.” Dr Orengo has expressed opposition to the settlement of Europeans in coastal villas.

Ethnic clashes following disputed elections in December 2007 have been blamed on land pressure in areas settled by immigrant ethnic groups. The peace accord negotiated by former United Nations Secretary General, Koffi Annan, and which formed Kenya’s coalition government, was mandated to explore the land situation in order to avert future clashes. However, discussions on land reform appear to have stalled as the coalition parties get engrossed in government affairs.

After Kenya’s independence in 1963, President Jomo Kenyatta announced that land ownership will be on the basis of “willing-seller, willing-buyer.” The government would neither confiscate land from anyone, nor would it give it away for free. Kenya’s independence constitution gave its citizens the right to purchase property anywhere in Kenya. The policy served Kenya well, until the 1990s when populist politicians incited desperate youth to invade farms on ethnic grounds.

The remarks are likely to put Ms Angote into conflict with President Mwai Kibaki, who retains much respect for Kenya’s first president. Indeed, President Kibaki served in Kenyatta’s cabinet and was a baptismal godfather to one of Kenyatta’s sons, Uhuru. In 2003, when he assumed Kenya’s presidency, President Kibaki ordered the Central Bank to put Kenyatta’s portrait on all currency notes and coins.

Former President Daniel arap Moi wanted to cut a different image from Kenyatta but he did not tolerate criticism of his predecessor. Moi served Kenyatta as Vice President for 11 years. Had Ms Angote made the remarks during Moi’s presidency, she would probably have lost her job before the workshop was over.

Criticism of Kenyatta’s policies by a highly placed government official will complicate the land debate in Kenya. If anything, it may justify the actions of those elements that wish to drive out immigrant ethnic groups from certain districts. All in all, more blood is likely to be shed before a solution is found.

Raila attacks African presidents

Political leadership in Africa is typified more by grotesque examples than by positive role models, said Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, during his trip to the United Kingdom.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga in traditional dress

Prime Minister Raila Odinga in traditional dress

Raila also criticized the African Union for welcoming Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe to its summit in Egypt. “The African Union singularly failed in condemning the sham elections in Zimbabwe … You only have to look at the credentials of some of its leaders and know what binds most of them together,” said Raila in remarks likely to distance him from the continent’s leadership.

During his speech at Chatham House, Raila paid tribute to former South African President, Nelson Mandela, Sir Seretse Khama of Botswana and the late Leopold Senghor of Senegal. He described them as positive role models for Africa. The three former African leaders are famous for willingly resigning from power.

According to a press release from the Prime Minister’s office, Raila is heading a delegation comprising government officials and private sector representatives that is in London for an investment conference. The conference aims at promoting Kenya. During the trip, Raila met British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown at No. 10 Downing Street.

Raila had harsh words for African leaders: “Mugabe’s victory was accepted by the world’s longest serving President, Omar Bongo of Gabon, with a strange logic. ‘He was elected, he took an oath, and he is with us, so he is President.”

Analysts say that Raila was disappointed by the lack of support he got from the rest of Africa during Kenya’s election crisis early this year. Raila believes he won the 2007 elections and that President Mwai Kibaki robbed him of victory. Majority of African leaders quietly supported Kibaki and a few, such as Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, went ahead and recognized Kibaki’s victory.

The East African weekly reported that during initial mediation following the election crisis, President John Kufuor of Ghana told Raila that he was lucky that Kibaki was willing to talk. Kufuor’s remarks made Raila and the ODM party to reject his involvement.

On Zimbabwe, Raila says that ongoing negotiations should recognize MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai as the legitimate winner. However, Zimbabwe did not necessarily have to copy the Kenyan model of a grand coalition government.

In recent weeks, the Zimbabwe government has dismissed Raila’s opinions, saying that Raila has, “blood on his hands.” Violence between Raila supporters and those of President Kibaki left close to a thousand Kenyans dead and half a million displaced. Protests over election results turned into ethnic clashes.

In his London speech, Raila said that Africans should stop blaming the past. “It is pointless for some to look back to yesterday’s colonial period. Most of our people are too young to have known anything except our own independence.”

“Africans may be poor and getting poorer, but Africa is not poor. It has all the resources – human, natural and mineral – it needs for its development, but these have been exploited over the years to support other economies.”

Blunders mar Kibaki’s presidency

From downright contempt for public opinion to costly blunders, the tenure of President Mwai Kibaki will be remembered as one that pushed Kenya close to the abyss of national catastrophe.

President Kibaki (right) at a national function with the Chief of General Staff, Jeremiah Kianga.

President Kibaki (right) at a national function with the Chief of General Staff, Jeremiah Kianga.

From 2003, hundreds perhaps thousands of lives have been lost needlessly through ethnic clashes, police killings, violent crime and road accidents. Scores of businesses have shut down due to lop-sided taxation and ministerial directives aimed at benefiting pro-Kibaki merchants. Ethnic tension has increased as top government positions are filled with members of Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe. Unemployment figures in Kenya currently stand at 65%, not very far from Zimbabwe’s 80%. The latest saga involving the Grand Regency Hotel is proof that corrupt practices reign in the corridors of State power.

All these make for a very dissatisfied populace, and the Kenya of 2002 – as bad as it was – is largely forgotten amidst the problems of today. Critics say that President Kibaki’s tenure makes the 24 years of ex-President Daniel arap Moi’s administration look like a Swiss democracy.

In spite of implementing projects that had been lagging for years and thus spurring the highest rate of economic growth Kenya has seen in thirty years, President Kibaki is not exactly the most popular president. Within his Kikuyu ethnic base, Kibaki is refered to as one who avoids confrontation. Indeed, majority of the Kikuyu support Kibaki because they fear the alternative, represented by Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

President Kibaki’s administration suffers from a poor legacy because of a lingering perception that his allies in government exhibit arrogance towards other Kenyans. Cabinet ministers disobey court orders, others have unleashed the wrath of the security forces on the citizens while yet others are responsible for meddling in state corporations in an attempt at micro management.

President Kibaki’s cabinet is seen to veer between 1960s development plans on one hand and the panicky appeasement of voters on the other hand by creating new districts or dishing out land titles. Today, almost every clan of each tribe has its own district. There have been so many districts created in the past two years that few people in Kenya know the total number of districts in the country.

When Kibaki took office in 2003 on the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) party, he pledged to respect the rule of law. This was to distinguish the NARC administration from the previous 40-year administration of the Kenya African National Union (KANU) whose flouting of the constitution were among many reasons its popularity tumbled over the years. However, Kibaki’s allies generally behave as though the law does not apply to them.

Disgraced Kibaki protege, Amos Kimunya, went against government procedures by secretly selling the Grand Regency Hotel to a company whose ownership is a mystery. In the past year, Kimunya ignored public opinion as well as the views of the opposition and sold a substantial government stake in Safaricom, Kenya’s leading mobile phone company. Two years earlier, Kimunya publicly announced that he would ignore a court decision stopping the Kenya Revenue Authority from forcing traders to install electronic tax registers. When he was minister for lands, Mr Kimunya dismissed a court order obtained by residents of the Mau forest and which was supposed to stop the government from evicting them. The eviction went ahead resulting in destruction of property and several deaths when the residents were rendered homeless. Kimunya famously said that title deeds, “are nothing more than a piece of paper.”

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta broke the law when he nominated more councilors than prescribed. In some cases, he ignored the lists provided by political parties and appointed his own people. Uhuru created a mess that the current Minister for Local Government, Musalia Mudavadi is attempting to clean up. But the damage has been done.

Amidst all these, Kibaki kept quiet and made not a few infractions of his own.

Last December, President Kibaki broke the tenets of the 1997 Inter Parties Parliamentary Group (IPPG) agreement that specified the manner in which political parties would appoint commissioners for the Electoral Commission of Kenya. It was a deal that even ex-President Moi, for all his tendencies, followed to the letter. Not so with Kibaki. He dismissed IPPG as a gentleman’s agreement not rooted in the constitution. True enough. But by going against IPPG, Kibaki set the stage for suspicion in the conduct of the Electoral Commission. When he was declared winner of the 2007 elections, the opposing parties cited the composition of the Electoral Commission as grounds for dismissing the results. Violence by opposition supporters left hundreds, possibly, thousands dead and close to half a million homeless.

If you thought that the Kibaki administration had learnt its lesson from the violence of early this year, then you are mistaken. Nothing has changed and the bad old ways continue. As the violence raged, Kibaki’s ministers ordered internally displaced persons to, “go home.” The refugees protested, saying that they had no homes to return to. However, police were sent to forcibly remove people from the Nairobi showground and other areas. Apparently, the sight of refugee camps in the capital city was an embarrassment to the government.

In the Rift Valley province, which bore the worst of the violence, the government launched “Operation Go Home.” Without going into the sordid details, Operation Go Home involved pushing refugees into army trucks then dumping them in isolated, violence-prone farming fields with no food supplies, no housing and no sanitation facilities. Ironically, many of these refugees are from Kibaki’s Kikuyu ethnic group. They had initially been promised some form of monetary compensation to help them rebuild but the money is yet to come. Those lucky enough to get the promised funds were given Shs10,000 (US$150) each. A few refugees who have been mobilizing resistance to the forceful closure of camps have been tortured and shot.

The most blatant flouting of the law and the most overt display of the kind of arrogance associated with Kibaki’s henchmen (and women) is the, still unexplained, presence of the Artur brothers in Kenya. The obnoxious duo introduced themselves as businessmen but it was obvious that they had powerful state connections. In the end, they were deported from the country after they over-stretched the patience of whoever was hosting them. In their lavish home at the exclusive Runda estate were found police uniforms, government issue firearms, government cars and identification documents linking them to national security apparatus. However, the Artur brothers saga was the height of public contempt that the Kibaki government has exhibited to Kenyans.

It all began in early 2006 when police raided the newsroom and printing plant of the East African Standard, Kenya’s second biggest daily newspaper. The Standard had printed several articles critical of President Kibaki. When questioned about it, the Minister for Internal Security, John Michuki, proudly boasted that he was behind the whole operation and that he was willing to do it again. “When you rattle a snake, prepare to be bitten,” were Michuki’s remarks that drove newspaper cartoonists to draw him with a snake’s tongue protruding from his mouth. Video images of the police operation indicated that it was led by foreigners. Opposition leader, Raila Odinga, claimed these were mercenaries hired by top government officials to assassinate critics of the government. It was after this that the Artur brothers came into the public limelight to deny they were mercenaries.

The Artur brothers were linked to Ms Mary Wambui and her daughter Winnie Wangui. The two women are beleived to be part of Kibaki’s family and enjoy massive state security. Mary is usually seen traversing the country campaigning for President Kibaki and dishing out large sums of money whose source is the subject of very telling speculation. At one time, Winnie was said to be President Kibaki’s daughter born out of a liaison with Mary but the President subsequently held a televised address denying the links. Winnie was an ally of the Artur brothers and almost married one of them.

How is it possible that a 77 year old politician, with close to 50 years of experience, can display such incompetence? Why does Kibaki allow such blunders to ruin his leadership? Why is Kibaki so blind to the day to day realities of his voters? The Makerere University graduate of economics is, in many ways, an intelligent man. He has very sound policies on development and economic growth.

Maybe its because of his character. Kibaki has long been cited as a man without a distinguishable position on anything – a fence sitter. Kibaki procrastinates on making important decisions. He delegates too much authority to his cronies and proteges. The result is a class of people who use the president’s authority to make dubious decisions aimed at benefiting themselves. It has nothing to do with tribe, its a matter of economic and political class. That explains why Kibaki failed to stop the massacre of his own people in Eldoret, almost 300km northwest of Nairobi. However, when violence spread to Naivasha – just 90km outside the capital – Kibaki was quick to send helicopter gunships.

Because of his failings, Kibaki’s legacy is similar to that of a tattered rag. Kibaki’s presidency is like the building whose construction stops at the foundation level, then slowly crumbles into a dust heap with bits and pieces of steel rods poking out everywhere. History provided Kibaki with the opportunity to create a memorable leadership that could be an example to the whole of Africa. Instead, Kibaki trampled on the opportunity. What folly!

Kibaki: Worst president of Kenya

Sobering Journey to Western Kenya

By Claire Hollis

Despite having visited Kimilili many times before, it was my first time driving in that direction since returning to Kenya at the end of January, and therefore the first time since the violence at the beginning of the year. To get to Kimilili, I pass through Nakuru and Eldoret, both names that appeared in the news all too often at that time.

Destroyed buildings on the highway between Eldoret and Nakuru.

About half an hour from Nakuru, we began to pass destroyed buildings, generally missing at least the roof. In the case of mud houses, all that remained was the floor. What was particularly surreal was that it wasn’t every building. There were those that remained intact presumably belonging to Kalenjin, the destroyed ones having been occupied by Kikuyu. I wondered how many of the people who were around at the side of the road had themselves been involved in the violence, either as perpetrators or as victims.

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