Raila, Ruto clash not surprising at all

Deep ideological differences between Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Agriculture Minister William Ruto are responsible for the split in the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

raila_rutoIn their eagerness, or perhaps desperation, to win power in the 2007 General Elections, Raila and Ruto disguised their personal differences to unite under the ODM party. Both men knew that they could not get into government by themselves. This was more the case when Kalonzo Musyoka left ODM in mid 2007.

Immediately after Kalonzo’s exit, Raila and Ruto got into a very strong alliance that helped bring the Luo and Kalenjin votes directly to Raila’s presidential candidacy. Come the elections, the Luo and Kalenjin voted for Raila en-masse. When President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner, the Luo and Kalenjin were at the forefront in protesting the election results. The Prime Minister himself has acknowledged the role of Kalenjin warriors in forcing Kibaki to the negotiating table.

Today, that alliance lies in tatters. Raila and Ruto have inevitably parted ways and are both seeking alternative allies in readiness for the 2012 elections. While Raila is an obvious candidate, Ruto sees himself as presidential material for Kenya’s future. He will either run for the office or support somebody else in exchange for the Vice Presidency or the Premiership. Those mentioned as Ruto’s possible allies in 2012 are current Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta. Meanwhile, Raila is talking to politicians from Central Kenya in a bid to woo Kikuyu, Embu and Meru votes.

Raila and Ruto come from opposing schools of political thought. Raila is a socialist who learnt politics from his father, former Vice President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. Due to Communist leanings, Jaramogi fell out with President Jomo Kenyatta in 1966 and became a perpetual opposition to the Kenyatta and Moi administrations until his death in 1994. Jaramogi inculcated socialism in Raila by sending him to study Engineering in the former East Germany which was a Communist state. In the 1980s, Raila was tortured for involvement in the 1982 coup attempt. It was almost as though President Daniel arap Moi was deliberately targeting Raila in order to cause psychological anguish to Jaramogi.

Ruto, on the other hand, was an ardent student of the Moi brand of politics. Picked from obscurity before the 1992 General Elections, Ruto was appointed second in command of a new organization called “Youth for KANU 1992” or YK92 in short. YK92 had only one goal: to use any means necessary to ensure the victory of Moi and the KANU party. YK92 received an unlimited amount of funds to buy support for KANU. The source of the cash was a mystery but it is believed that the government engaged in massive printing of money. The Goldenberg scandal could have provided more slush funds.

Moi and KANU managed to win the 1992 elections but, needless to say, the operations of YK92 had flooded the economy with paper money. The years 1993 – 1994 witnessed the highest inflation in Kenya’s history as prices of basic commodities doubled and trebled. This was when the Shs500 currency note was introduced.

Come the 1997 elections, Moi supported William Ruto’s candidacy in Eldoret North constituency against the late Reuben Chesire. The interesting angle is that Reuben Chesire was related to Moi. However, friendship counts for little in politics and Moi is the master of use-and-dump strategies. With Moi’s backing, Ruto won the elections and was appointed to the cabinet. By 2002, Ruto was a powerful Minister for Internal Security and an ardent defender of Moi.

In a sense, Ruto symbolized the arrogance and corruption of Moi’s last years of office. He displayed a great deal of single-mindedness when defending Moi’s choice of Uhuru Kenyatta as successor in the 2002 elections. Ruto virulently opposed the constitutional review process led by Professor Yash Pal Ghai and which culminated in the Bomas conference. Often, Ruto appeared on national television frothing at the mouth as he dismissed constitutional reforms as an attack on the Moi presidency. To Ruto’s credit, Kibaki ally John Michuki confirmed in 2003 that constitutional reforms were meant to remove Moi and KANU from power.

Ruto has never subscribed to Raila’s populist approach to politics. Ruto is a hardcore conservative more comfortable with Mwai Kibaki than with Raila Odinga. It was naked opportunism that brought Raila and Ruto together. Raila needed the Kalenjin vote and Ruto wanted to get back into government after KANU’s loss in 2002.

Ruto is among politicians who believe that Raila is a reckless activist who cannot be trusted with leading Kenya. Ruto is certainly not a socialist. He is an extremely wealth man who made lots of money through his connections to Moi. Apart from unlimited access to YK92 funds, Ruto was allocated government land which he afterwards sold to state-owned corporations at a huge profit. For instance, Ruto made hundreds of millions of shillings selling land to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). Ruto’s companies won tenders to supply government departments and state corporations.

In 2007, Moi decided to support President Mwai Kibaki’s candidacy and told Ruto to follow suit. Ruto was convinced that Raila had the best chance of winning and refused to heed Moi’s calling. Now, it looks like Ruto is going back home to Moi and Uhuru Kenyatta as Raila’s political fortunes dwindle by the day.

One final point to consider: Did Ruto really fall out with Moi in 2007 or was it part of Moi’s political strategy of ensuring he had a stake in government regardless of who won the election? The hard fact is that if Raila had won the presidency, Ruto would have taken care of Moi’s interests.

Today, with Moi firmly on Kibaki’s side, Ruto doesn’t seem to be doing badly either. Early this year, Ruto survived a no-confidence motion in Parliament thanks to support from pro-Kibaki legislators.

Mau Forest politics: a detailed explanation

It is estimated that there are 25,000 people who either legally or illegally have settled in both Mau East and Mau West forests. The Government plans to resettle them elsewhere and fence off the water tower, one of the five in the country.

Destruction of the Mau Forest. Picture source: (see below)

Destruction of the Mau Forest. Picture source: (see below)

The Kipsigis community, the main occupants of the water-catchment area, oppose the eviction, saying they settled in the forest legally. Elders say their community is being punished by the coalition Government following their stand in the 2007 General Election. The elders have warned the Government over the evictions, saying the move was causing panic among residents, some of whom were threatening to disrupt peace.

On the other hand, Maasai community leaders say there should not be any compromise over the evictions. Maasai leaders say that the illegal extension of ranches bordering the forest in 1998 by the Narok County Council was the genesis of the threat to the water-catchment area. They say the area was allocated to powerful individuals in Government who are now opposed to the evictions.

There are fears that the Maasai and Kipisigis ethnic groups, both of whom have stakes in the Mau Forest Complex, might clash violently.

The more than 25,000 settlers, who are mainly farmers, have totally degraded and destroyed the environment to pave way for their settlement and farming. These combined activities have caused several rivers to dry up permanently.

Origins of the current situation

The encroachment and destruction of Kenya’s forests is closely related to many controversial land issues. In Kenya, as in many African countries that experienced colonisation, the issue of access to land is complex and emotive.

During colonialism, white settlers were allocated the most productive and fertile 20 per cent of Kenya’s land mass. When Kenya was declared a British Protectorate in 1895, forest cover was estimated at 30 per cent of total landmass. At independence in 1963 this figure was just 3 per cent. Following independence, there was popular expectation of increased and more equitable access to land for ordinary Kenyans.

However, post- independence governments failed to put in place a land program that met popular expectations. Instead, land was systematically used as a tool of political patronage. Huge tracts of public land were allocated to political elites and to political supporters. Since independence forest cover in Kenya has further shrunk to just 1.7 per cent of the total land mass.

Lack of alternative livelihood opportunities in these areas has left land as the only resource to mine for people’s basic needs. Without a comprehensive approach to sustainable livelihoods, rural communities are degrading the very environment on which they depend.

Specifics of the Mau forest problem

Since 1993, the Kenyan Government has systematically carved out huge parts of Mau Forest for settlement of people from other communities. It is said that local leaders condone the destruction by using land as a political tool, oblivious to the consequences. Even members of the provincial administration were involved in the plunder.

For politicians and senior government officials, the settlement scheme was a political arena in which they promised their people land in return for votes. The majority of people who were settled were supporters of the [former] ruling party, the Kenya African National Union (KANU). They view the land as a political reward for voting their party into power.

On 16th February 2001, the Environment Minister, Mr Francis Nyenze, gave 28 days’ notice of the excision of more than 167,000 ha of forest land from the Mau. This decision caused a serious uproar from a cross-section of Kenyans opposed to the excision.

Recent actions

In 2003, the government set up a commission to investigate land grabbing. The Ndungu Commission, as it is known, reported to the government in June 2004, and the report was made public in December 2004. The report catalogues a staggering level of illegal and irregular allocations of public lands under the administrations of both Presidents Kenyatta and Moi, for largely patronage purposes.

For example, 1,812 ha of forest in Kiptagich, which is part of the Mau Forest complex, was cleared to resettle the Ogiek community, which has traditional rights to the forest, but the Ndungu reports states that the main beneficiaries were not the indigenous Ogiek but prominent individuals and companies.

The Ndungu Commission recommended that the large majority of the land grabbed should be revoked, stating in relation to forests that:

  • All excisions of forestland which were made contrary to the provisions of the Forests Act and the Government Lands Act should be cancelled.
  • All titles which were acquired consequent upon the illegal excisions and allocations of forestland should be revoked. The forestlands affected should be repossessed and restored to their original purpose.

However, the Commission made provision for addressing situations where forest land had been set aside in order to settle landless people. In such cases, where genuine landless people had been settled, the Commission recommended that while the titles should be revoked (given their inherent illegality), the Government should – subject to compliance with other legislation – issue new titles to the landless settlers.

Early efforts to remove people from the forest were stopped, among others, by a High Court injunction granted to seven individuals on the strength of their title deeds. It later appeared that the injunction applied only to the seven applicants. Later, based on increasing consensus among the Cabinet on the need to conserve the Mau, the Government decided to move ahead, evicting 10,290 people in May and June 2005.

In 2007, the decision to evict settlers from the Mau Forest suffered a setback due to the General Elections of December that year. The government of President Mwai Kibaki succumbed to pressure from opposition politicians who were using the Mau Forest evictions as a campaign platform to woo the Kalenjin ethnic group. In a bid to recover lost popularity, the government promised to issue title deeds to the settlers.

After the elections, and with the formation of the Grand Coalition, the government resumed its campaign to evict settlers from the Mau. The Sondu Miriu hydro-electric power station in Nyanza Province was unable to produce at full capacity because the Sondu Miriu River – whose source is the Mau Forest – is drying up. Opposition arose from within the coalition as majority of the Kipsigis settlers had voted for Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) which capitalized on local discontent created by the 2005 evictions.

The conflicting positions of cabinet ministers, especially opposition from Kipsigis legislators backed by their Kalenjin compatriots, paralyzed planned evictions. If anything, degradation of the Mau Forest intensified as settlers and loggers sought to make the most of their remaining stay.

Outlook

Protection of the forest and protection of human rights are not mutually exclusive, and in the case of the Mau Forest evictions, the failure to address human rights has undermined protection of the forest. The overall consensus amongst environmentalists in Kenya is that the forced evictions have largely failed to protect the forest – in many cases people have simply returned to their former homes because they have nowhere else to go.

Without an adequate resettlement plan in place, evictions not only violate international human rights law; they fail to provide a solution to forest protection. The Government’s argument that the title deeds are illegitimate fails to recognise that many poor people acted in good faith when they obtained title. Moreover, where people are suspected of having obtained title deeds through corrupt or illegal practices, the burden of proving this rests with the government.

The pressure on land, water, and forested ecosystems is a function of population growth, urbanization processes, increased per capita consumption of forest resources and the failure of previous interventions to adopt approaches aimed at achieving both social and ecological goals. Equitable and sustained poverty alleviation is contingent upon the pursuit of environmental sustainability in the context of implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which can be said to have mediated Kenya’s new generational laws.

In truth, the problems being experienced in the Mau Forest complex are a product of the government’s own making. This, therefore, necessitates the humane approach advocated by civil society, scientists and some politicians. There’s no doubt that the settlers must be relocated but considerations regarding the acquisition of title deeds must be kept in mind. While there’s no denying that the settlement was done by previous administrations and a political party which is today at the fringes, government actions supersede individual occupants of high office. A government decision does not become illegal just because the person who made the decision is no longer in office.

As political leaders and elders have noted, the issue of settlers in the Mau Forest must be handled with extreme sensitivity and through a just mechanism. Unless justice and compensation are handled to the satisfaction of the settlers, the government could easily be laying the grounds for armed conflict that could have major repercussions on the stability of the Kenyan state.

All over the world, the mishandling of problems similar to what we see in the Mau has led to rebel movements and possibly the toppling of government. The Mau Mau crisis of the 1950s was in large part attributed to the manner in which the British colonial authorities mishandled Kikuyu land grievances. We must learn from history so as not to repeat similar mistakes.

Sources

  1. Amnesty International (2007). Nowhere to go: Forced evictions in Mau Forest, Kenya.
  2. Kemei, Kipchumba (2004, February 25). Plunder of Mau Forest a Threat to 3m People. East African Standard.
  3. Masibo, Kennedy. (2008, November 25). Destroy Mau Forest and forget L. Nakuru Park. The Daily Nation.
  4. Nkako F, Lambrechts C, Gachanja M, & Woodley B (2005). Maasai Mau Forest Status Report 2005. Narok. Ewaso Ngiro South Development Authority.
  5. Sang, Joseph K (2001). The Ogiek in Mau Forest.
  6. Sayagie, George (2008, November 9). Groups differ on Mau forest evictions. The Daily Nation.

Why Mau Forest is so important

The larger Mau Forest Complex, is one of the five main “water towers” of Kenya, the others being Mt. Elgon, Mt. Kenya, the Aberdare Range and the Cherangani Hills.

Zebra grazing at the world-famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve. Without the water that flows from the Mau Forest, the Maasai Mara will practically die.

Zebra grazing at the world-famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve. Without the water that flows from the Mau Forest, the Maasai Mara will practically die.

Because of massive destruction in the Mau Forest, Lake Nakuru may be extinct in another eight years unless the current destruction is contained. The after effects of the destruction have led to the lake receding. Other lakes affected are Baringo, Bogoria, Natron and Turkana.

Kenya Wildlife Service director Julius Kipng’etich says the impact on the encroachment of human settlement has affected the rivers which had been draining into the lake, with some drying up or becoming seasonal. River Njoro’s water volume has gone down by more than 75 per cent, while the Mara River is only one-twelfth of its original volume.

He pointed out that without the rivers, the algae plant will no longer find its way into Lake Nakuru and the famous Flamingo birds will no longer survive because they feed on the plant. The director said the impact would affect the Lake Nakuru National Park which is a leading tourist attraction.

Indigenous Peoples Land Commission says that ongoing destruction of the Mau catchment area is threatening the survival of over three million people. According to the group, tourism activities in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve and the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem will suffer as the livelihood of the Maasai and Ogiek communities, who depend on these resources, falls into jeopardy.

Narok District is known for wheat production. This crop, as well as others, benefits from the essential environmental services provided by the Mau Forest, in terms of water from the streams and rivers flowing from the forest and favourable microclimatic conditions around the forest. The Mau provides non-timber forest products, including medicinal plants, wild honey and wild fruits, many of which are consumed locally. Local communities also use the forest as dry season pasture.

If conserved, the Mau Forest could be a major asset for tourism development. It could become a twin conservation area with the Maasai Mara National Reserve, which is a major source of revenue for Narok and Transmara districts. Such potential was highlighted in the 1988 study “Maasai Mau National Reserve: Proposed Development Plan,” commissioned by the Narok County Council, which states that the Maasai Mau “will serve as a great contrast when visitors leave the Maasai Mara [National Reserve] or Nakuru [National] Park, which are lowlands parks, to enter into a highland Reserve with a variety of birds and abundance of animals.”

Game and bird watching and walking safaris were identified among the initial activities. Accommodation could include self-service bandas and a small lodge to be located at the waterfall near Imbenek Dapashi Hills.

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Picture of Zebra by tik_tok.

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What is the Mau Forest?

The Mau Forest complex is the largest remaining near-contiguous bloc of montane indigenous forest in East Africa.

Map showing the location of the Mau Forest complex in the Republic of Kenya. Map by Google Maps.

Map showing the location of the Mau Forest complex in the Republic of Kenya. Map by Google Maps.

It covers an approximate area of 350,000 ha and is situated about 170 km north-west of Nairobi and stretches west bordering Kericho District, Narok District to the south, Nakuru to the north and Bomet to the south-west. The forest is divided into seven blocs comprising South-West Mau (Tinet), East Mau, Ol’donyo Purro, Transmara, Maasai Mau, Western Mau and Southern Mau. These seven blocs merge to form the larger Mau Forest complex.

The forest lies 1,200 – 2,600 m above sea level with an annual rainfall of about 2,000 mm spread throughout the year. The forest regulates the stream flow, thus helping to control flooding and maintain water catchment areas, and drains into Lakes Nakuru, Bogoria, Baringo and Victoria. The forest is a source of 12 rivers.

Studies have shown that the Mau Forest Complex is an important bird area, with over 450 species. Two ungulates – the Bongo and the Yellowbacked Duiker, two carnivores – the Golden Cat and the Leopard, and the African Elephant are known to occur in Trans Mara and South Western Mau forest reserves, which neighbour the Maasai Mau Forest.

Additional animals of special interest that inhabit the higher moist forest zone of the Mau Complex, include: Giant Forest Hog, Colobus Monkey, Potto, Sotik Bushbaby and the Greater Galago. In the other forest formations animals commonly found included lions, leopards and hyenas, Grant Gazelle, Coke’s Hartebeest, giraffes, Cape Buffalo, hippopotamus, rhinoceros and African Elephant.

The vegetation cover varies from shrubs to thick impenetrable bamboo forest. There are big numbers of indigenous trees like cedar (Juniperus procera), African olive (Olea africana), Dombeya spp. and plantations of exotic trees like cypress (Cupressus lusitanica), pine (Pinus patula and Pinus radiata), Grevillea robusta and Eucalyptus spp. which are regularly planted by the Forest Department mainly for revenue purposes.

The forest was declared Crown Land in the 1930s and made a Natural Reserve in the 1940s. It was officially gazetted in 1954 as a Forest Reserve under the Forest Act (CAP 385).

Raila in tough battle over Mau forest

As with everything else in Kenya, the conservation and destruction of the Mau forest is proving an intractable matter for one simple reason: too many vested political interests will ensure that nothing will change despite ongoing destruction of the forest and which can only be described as a looting spree.

A tea plantation (foreground) bordering part of the Mau forest. Excisions of the Mau forest have been driven by demand for farmland.

A tea plantation (foreground) bordering part of the Mau forest. Excisions of the Mau forest are driven by demand for farmland.

Many people wish for the Mau settlers to just pack up and leave to let the forest regenerate itself. With intensified settlements in the past 20 years, the weather patterns in Western Kenya have changed for the worse. Rivers have dried and timber has become a scarce commodity as vast swathes of indigenous forest were cleared for settlements. It is believed that restoring the Mau forest could improve water supplies and help attract rainfall.

Unfortunately, its not easy asking tens of thousands of people to leave a place they have called home for more than a decade. It is a political tinder-box with the capacity to not only ruin careers but also to spark instability in a part of Kenya notorious for ethnic clashes. It gets worse when politicians are the cause of the problem.

Excisions of the Mau forest began during the British colonial era. Tens of thousands of acres of land were cleared to make way for tea plantations and white settler farms. After independence, most white settler farms were allocated to Africans (for a fee) while the tea plantations remained in the hands of multinational corporations.

Between Independence in 1963 and 1990, there were several excisions done to create room for an growing population. However, the excisions responsible for the current controversy were done in the 1990s by former President Daniel arap Moi.

Faced with opposition to his rule after grudgingly accepting to register opposition parties in 1991, Moi needed support. As a practitioner of patron-client politics, this meant dishing out gifts in exchange for votes. That is how the Mau forest complex began getting sub-divided as a means of rewarding Moi’s cronies.

Initially, the beneficiaries of the plots were top government officials, senior security officers and members of Moi’s Kenya African National Union (KANU) party. Provincial Commissioners, District Commissioners, Permanent Secretaries, KANU branch chairmen, military commanders as well as clergymen benefited from the allocations. Of course, Moi did not forget himself and his land parcel was big enough for him to establish a tea estate.

The initial allottees subdivided their parcels and sold to tens of thousands of other people, mostly from the Kipsigis dialect of Moi’s Kalenjin tribe but also some Kisii. The politicians are believed to have made millions from the scheme as most of them were allocated the land almost for free.

Today, the politicians who made so much money selling forest land are at the forefront resisting the eviction of their settlers. That is to be expected considering their role in the saga. President Mwai Kibaki has, for long, wanted the settlers evicted and ordered an operation in 2005. However, Prime Minister Raila Odinga finds himself in a difficult position as most Kalenjin legislators are from his ODM party.

As a matter of fact, Raila himself used the Mau saga in his campaigns against Kibaki during the 2005 Referendum and the 2007 elections. Kibaki became unpopular in Kalenjin districts largely due to the brutality of the 2005 evictions. Raila capitalized on the Mau saga to win Kalenjin votes by promising that he would not evict them.

Reality was to come crashing on Raila in 2008 when the new Sondu Miriu hydro electric plant in his Nyanza home turf could not operate as the Sondu Miriu River was drying. Reason? The river’s source high in the Mau forest was affected by settlements. Faced with the spectre of a failed project, Raila quickly changed tune and began demanding for the eviction of settlers from the Mau.

Raila is having a difficult time with Kalenjin legislators because of his abrupt change of political stance regarding the Mau settlements. Only two years ago, Raila promised their continued stay in the forest but now, he appears to have sided with President Kibaki. The Kalenjin community sees the stance as the ultimate political betrayal considering the fanatica support they gave to Raila’s presidential candidacy back in 2007.

The Kalenjin were the most militant during post election violence, where they made it very clear that they did not recognize President Kibaki. For Raila to turn against the community is something that has not been taken kindly by the Kalenjin.

Certainly, the Kalenjin will never forgive Raila for the treachery and there will be major political ramifications on Raila’s political future as far as Kalenjin support is concerned.

For the settlers though, it appears their fate is sealed. Public opinion for their eviction is running high, largely due to water shortages caused by dying rivers. Even the international community has said that it would support the restoration of the Mau forest.

As debate rages on what to do with the settlers, illegal loggers have taken advantage of the confusion to engage in massive looting of timber and other forest resources. From reports coming out of the Mau, it would seem that by the time a hard decision is made, there will be very little forest left to conserve.

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Picture of the Mau forest by sll627

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Kibaki creates 20 provinces; ethnic clashes now feared

UPDATE – 22nd July 2009:

The Standard has reliably learnt that the number of sub-provinces is now 22 after two were added, reportedly to accommodate interests of certain communities in Nyanza and Rift Valley.

Southern Nyanza, which was initially lumped together with Eastern Nyanza, will now have its headquarters in Homa Bay. Eastern Nyanza will be administered from Kisii town and cater for the Gusii and Kuria. Also added to the list is Western Rift, to be governed from Kericho town. It was originally part of Western Rift Valley, which will now be called Eastern Rift with offices in Eldoret.

Read more on this story from the Standard daily >>

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After he was warned against splitting Kenya’s provinces, President Mwai Kibaki has resorted to deceptive tactics to impose 20 new provinces through a bizarre concept of “sub-provinces.”

The new provincial units created by President Mwai Kibaki

The new provincial units created by President Mwai Kibaki

In an unexpected political maneuver last week, the President made far reaching changes in the Provincial administration. Not only did he replace at least 6 Provincial Commissioners, but he also introduced 20 deputy provincial commissioners to be in charge of the 20 “sub-provinces.” Meanwhile, all 210 constituencies have been declared as districts but the final district tally is 254, meaning that some constituencies have more than one district!

The interesting fact is that the President’s Party of National Unity (PNU) had earlier proposed splitting the country into 20 provinces. The proposal was however rejected by majority of legislators. Even ex-President Daniel arap Moi, who lately supports Kibaki, rejected the proposal arguing that it will worsen ethnic tensions especially in the Rift Valley Province.

There are now fears of a resurgence of ethnic clashes as the new provincial borders appear aligned on ethnic lines. For instance, the larger Nyanza Province was split into Kisumu and Kisii sub-provinces. Western Province has been split into Bungoma and Kakamega sub-provinces to separate the Bukusu community from the rest of the Luhyas.

In the Rift Valley, the Maasai have been given Narok sub-province, the Kikuyu have Nakuru sub-province while the Kalenjin have been allocated Eldoret sub-province. The pastoral communities of the Pokot, Turkana and Samburu will be administered from Lodwar sub-province.

Central Province has been split into three: Thika, Nyandarua and Nyeri sub-provinces.

The Kamba ethnic group now have the Machakos sub-province.  Embu sub-province will administer the Embu, Meru, Tharaka and Nithi ethnic groups. The nomadic communities in the northern sector of Eastern Province now fall under the Marsabit sub-province. Likewise, the Somali dominated North Eastern province has been split into Wajir and Garissa sub-provinces.

At the coast, the Taita have a sub-province at Voi, while the Mijikenda will have Mombasa sub-province. The rest of the Coastal communities, including the Pokomo and the Bajuni have been clustered under the Malindi sub-province.

Districts with a mixed ethnic composition will experience ethnic tension as controversy emerges over which sub-province will administer those districts. For instance, will the Kalenjin prefer Nakuru sub-province or Eldoret sub-province? In Western Province, which Luhya sub-tribes will want themselves under Bungoma sub-province and which ones will prefer the Kakamega sub-province?

Some districts in Nyanza Province have a mixed Luo and Kisii ethnic composition. Will such districts be placed under the Kisumu sub-province or under the Kisii sub-province? Where will the Kuria ethnic group be placed? Will they demand a sub-province of their own?

In Eastern Province, there will be tension over Isiolo District. The Meru will want it placed under their Embu sub-province but the nomadic groups will want it under Marsabit sub-province. The presence of significant Somali and Samburu populations in Isiolo will complicate the equation.

North Eastern province is ethnically homogeneous but clan affiliation among the Somali is very strong. Which Somali clans will prefer the Wajir sub-province as opposed to the Garissa sub-province?

It appears that President Kibaki does not understand the danger of what he has just done. Everybody – including the international community – warned him against splitting provinces but he has thrown caution to the wind and implemented his diabolical plan. How can a leader get things so wrong?

Should clashes arise from the creation of sub-provinces, Kibaki must bear full responsibility for deaths, injuries and the destruction of property. The beneficiaries of this sinister political strategy should likewise share the blame.

Ethnic violence culprits escape justice again

One and a half years after the devastating violence that followed the December 2007 elections, not a single person has been prosecuted and jailed for the deaths of at least 1,500 people during a three month orgy of killing, looting and rape.

kingpins_of_violence

Lack of political will among Kenya’s ruling elite has bogged down the prosecution process, meaning that those behind the killing and destruction will not stand trial any time soon. Meanwhile, the desire among western powers for stability in Kenya explains why the International Criminal Court at The Hague gave one more year for Kenya to establish a tribunal to prosecute those who planned, financed and participated in the clashes.

Kenya’s ruling elite were behind the violence whose victims were mostly slum dwellers and impoverished peasants. There is clear evidence of top politicians making hate speeches, administering oaths and paying youths for the mayhem. The two leading presidential candidates in 2007 – President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga – kept silent as fighting raged in their names.

Even today, inter-ethnic relations in Kenya are fraught with tensions, as politicians are not eager to unite the people. Politicians have boycotted peace meetings called to reconcile warring tribes because it is easier to campaign on a platform of ethnic nationalism rather than a campaign of unity. Indeed, majority of Kenyan leaders are mere ethnic warlords with no interest in national unity. They want to isolate their tribes in order to enhance their own power and eventually pass the baton of leadership to their children. In effect, what we are seeing in Kenya is the rise of a feudal class that wants to monopolize political and economic power for generations to come.

For sure there is more-than-enough evidence to begin criminal prosecutions against those involved in the political and ethnic clashes. Thanks to the media, there are acres of tapes showing looting and actual killings taking place. Politicians were recorded preaching ethnic incitement to their followers. Others were taped threatening those ethnic groups that they thought would vote for rival candidates.

The Majimbo (federalism) debate stoked ethnic tension prior to the 2007 elections. Anyone with a political knowledge of Kenya would have known how the concept of Majimbo was used to perpetrate ethnic killings in the 1990s at the Rift Valley and Coast Provinces. To bring up the same debate in an election year was not only naive but extremely reckless. The consequences were easily predictable, especially with millions of unemployed youths eager to take over the properties of people perceived as “outsiders.”

Kenya’s politicians are split among themselves over whether to establish a local tribunal or to let the International Criminal Court do the work. And it all has to do with the 2012 Presidential elections when President Mwai Kibaki will be stepping down.

On the one hand, Kibaki and Raila want a local tribunal because they think that they can manipulate judges and intimidate witnesses, resulting in acquittals and light sentences. On the other hand, a second group of politicians led by William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta fear that a local tribunal will turn them into sacrificial lambs. Ruto led fighting in Eldoret on behalf of Raila while Uhuru organized retaliatory attacks by the Kikuyu ethnic group on behalf of Kibaki.

Ruto is loudly complaining that Raila has abandoned the youth who fought for his premiership. Ruto says that both Kibaki and Raila should face trial as everybody else was fighting for either of the two men. Ruto believes that Raila has a soft spot for Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, and having Ruto in jail would automatically clear the path for Mudavadi to succeed Raila sometime in future.

On his part, Uhuru believes that his political rivals want him jailed. His rivals in the Kibaki camp for the 2012 presidential elections are Internal Security Minister George Saitoti and former Justice Minister Martha Karua. It should be noted that Karua and Uhuru’s rivalry grew because Uhuru thought that Karua as Justice Minister was going to ensure that Uhuru was knocked out of the presidential succession race.

Uhuru and Ruto want the International Criminal Court (ICC) to take over the cases for several reasons:

  1. They perceive that the ICC will be much more fairer as it does not have a vested interest in the 2012 elections in Kenya.
  2. Court cases at the ICC take years to conclude. By 2012, the cases will not even have began and when they do, it is possible that either Uhuru and Ruto will be president and will therefore use state resources to escape prosecution.
  3. It will not be possible to take the thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to The Hague to testify whereas a local tribunal will easily be accessible to IDPs.
  4. If the worst comes to the worst, Ruto and Uhuru can implicate both Kibaki and Raila at the ICC. Should we have a local tribunal, it will be very difficult to bring charges against the President and Prime Minister but the ICC is not intimidated by titles. After all, the ICC currently has a warrant of arrest for President Omar al Bashir of Sudan.

As for the Kenyan people, what do they want?

Kenyans want the entire political class to be taken to The Hague as this will ensure justice for the hundreds of thousands still suffering the effects of post-election violence. There are fears that, unless something is done stop to ethnic warlords, the next General Elections of 2012 will be the end of Kenya as we know it.

Just to show that Kenyans want The Hague Option, the Standard daily reports that the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) is questioning how a Parliament housing the perpetrators of the 2008 violence can agree on a law to incriminate itself. Many in the House have been named as purveyors of ethnic strife.

The NCCK’s Secretary General, Peter Karanja, has scoffed at the one year extension given to the Kenyan government by the ICC saying the repreive is a delaying tactic against justice.

Moi makes comeback as Kenyans yearn for sober leadership

Despite contributing to the mess in Kenya, former President Daniel arap Moi has wormed his way into the public confidence by carving a niche as the only sober politician around.

ntimamawithmoiin1999

Former President Daniel arap Moi (right) with his ministers in this 1999 photo. William Ntimama can be seen at the centre pointing something out to Moi.

He is not called the Professor of Politics for nothing: Moi has an amazing ability to revive his political fortunes long after everybody has written him off. During the 2007 elections, it appeared that Moi’s Kalenjin ethnic group ignored his advice and followed his former protege William Ruto into Raila Odinga’s ODM party. Political analysts talked of the end of an era in Kalenjin politics, where youthful personalities led by William Ruto had forcibly snatched the mantle of leadership from the old order.

For sure, Kalenjin politics – and that of the Rift Valley at large – has irredeemably changed. Moi is no longer the only voice but, as the younger politicians are beginning to realize, it would be foolish to dismiss him entirely. Moi has been in politics longer than most of the current leaders have been alive. Indeed, most – if not all – Kalenjin political leaders owe everything they have to Moi.

As Kenya’s second president for 24 years, Moi molded and transformed politicians into his own image. The fact that the same personalities now claim to have rebelled against their Grand Master is laughable. They simply do not know any other political ideology other than Moism. The likes of William Ruto, Isaac Ruto, Franklin Bett, Margaret Kamar, Zakayo Cheruiyot, Hellen Sambili, the late Kipkalya Kones plus many others are Moi stooges.

What is Moism? Moism is a political system characterized by a permanent state of intrigues that involve shifting alliances that never result into anything tangible. The behaviour of Moi’s proteges best illustrates the lasting effects of Moism on the political landscape. Political bigwigs and greenhorns alike are constantly forming alliances with each other but nothing ever comes out of those moves.

You will hear of a Ruto – Uhuru alliance, then an Uhuru – Kalonzo movement, followed by Raila – Karua talks. Within a matter of weeks, these alignments cease to exist and you hear of Kibaki – Uhuru alliance, Ruto – Mudavadi ticket and so forth. None of these alliances succeed in the long-term.

Since the violence of 2008, ex-President Moi has traversed his Rift Valley region preaching peace. The Rift Valley was worst affected, with hundreds killed and thousands of homes destroyed. Entire trading centres were razed to the ground in an orgy of looting, killing and rape. Tit for tat ethnic killings sparked worldwide fears of a Rwanda like scenario forcing the international community to intervene.

However, Moi is largely responsible for ethnic clashes in Kenya and especially in the Rift Valley and Coast provinces.

For thirty years after independence, Kenya’s people had lived peacefully with each other. Migration within the country was so common it was taken for granted. The fertile lands of the Rift Valley attracted settlers from all over Kenya. People from different ethnic groups intermarried and did business with each other. All this came to an end with the return of multi-party politics in 1990.

As Moi had predicted while opposing multi-partyism, every ethnic group supported a candidate from its own party. Naturally, Moi had the full support of the Kalenjin ethnic group while the Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya and Kisii had their other preferences. Political differences among ethnic groups in the Rift Valley turned into violent clashes that worsened in the period before and after the 1992 General Elections.

Moi supporters, led by William Ntimama, the late Kipkalya Kones, late Paul Chepkok and late Francis Lotodo demanded that non-Kalenjin ethnic groups in the Rift Valley either vote for Moi or leave. Militias intimidated non-Kalenjins by burning homes, looting and killing. The Luo, Luhya, Kikuyu, Kisii and Kamba were attacked mercilessly.

Because the violence was largely state-driven, there was little that the victims could do. Security forces were accused of shielding the perpetrators instead of stopping the clashes. In one notorious case, trucks of the Kenya Police forcibly removed families from a conflict zone and took them to their “ancestral homes.” The families were dumped at a football stadium in Kiambu. Eyewitnesses reported seeing government helicopters assisting the raiders. There were reports that the militias had received specialized training in North Korea.

Ethnic clashes in the Rift Valley and Coast raged for much of the time between 1992 and 1999. There is no way that Moi could fail to know what was going on. Moi was a micro-manager of government affairs who used to call Provincial and District Commissioners in the middle of the night for security updates. During the Moi era, cabinet ministers used to rubber stamp Moi’s decisions. Therefore, Moi is responsible for the ethnic clashes of the 1990s

Nobody was ever prosecuted for participating in the Moi era ethnic clashes. This impunity largely contributed to the 2008 post election violence. Many of the people implicated in the Waki Inquiry into Post Election Violence had also been mentioned in previous inquiries into tribal clashes, including the Akiwumi Commission.

Moi corrupted Kenya’s political system through patron-client relationships that ensured that his loyalists got state funds, government contracts and top jobs. As an entire generation of leaders matured under Moi, these corruption networks came to be seen as normal in politics.

Kenyans are famous for short memories. It is less than seven years since Moi left office but most people have forgotten the kind of person he was. These days, Moi gets cheers whenever he attends public gatherings. Moi has become a celebrity speaker at university graduations, weddings, funerals and state functions. As a keen manipulator of human emotions, Moi knows the right things to say to leave the crowd roaring in applause.

Kenya’s current politicians, led by President Mwai Kibaki are to blame for Moi’s growing popularity. The coalition of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga is so inept that it makes the Moi years look like the “good, old days.” Kibaki and Raila can hardly give a coherent speech without tearing into each other.

This is why Moi seems like a much better alternative.

Dangerous Kikuyu – Luo ethnic duopoly

Thanks to the intense rivalry between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, small tribes in Kenya feel left out as government and private companies fill their ranks with Kikuyus and Luos in a bid to have a “diversified workforce.”

President Mwai Kibaki: asleep at the wheel

President Mwai Kibaki

With politics and resource allocation in Kenya defined along tribal lines, it is generally assumed that the tribe of whoever is at the top will enjoy priviledges in terms of jobs and development projects.

It is these perceptions that largely contributed to the violence that erupted after the December 2007 Presidential elections that pitted President Kibaki, a Kikuyu, against Prime Minister Raila Odinga who is Luo.

After 1,500 people died in the violence, there has been an effort by government and the private sector to have a tribally diverse work force. However, this has not quite worked out.

The reason is simple. Majority of government ministries, churches and private companies think that diversity is merely putting a Kikuyu and a Luo to work together. Which would be fine if Kenya only had the two tribes. But then, it is lost on those implementing “diversity” that Kenya has at least 42 tribes. Therefore, if only Kikuyus and Luos are getting jobs in the spirit of “diversity,” what happens to the other 40 tribes?

A case in point is the recent elections for the Students Organization of Nairobi University (SONU). The elected Chairman is a Luo, while his deputy is a Kikuyu. But then, is it a coincidence that a similar pattern is repeated across all elective positions in SONU? Is it also a coincidence that the outgoing team had a reverse composition, that is, the Chairman was Kikuyu deputized by a Luo?

Within the military, diplomatic corps and state corporations, the Luo – Kikuyu dichotomy is taking shape. In trying to appear fair, top positions are allocated to people from the two tribes. The same pattern is reflected in corporate circles. Companies are appointing Kikuyus and Luos to boards and management so as to appear neutral. A Kikuyu CEO will be assisted by a Luo, or vice versa.

Similar trends are emerging in social circles, as Kikuyus and Luos embrace each other in a show of “tolerance.” Much is made of weddings between Luo and Kikuyu families, as though Kikuyus and Luos cannot marry people from other tribes.

The ethnic dichotomy reached ridiculous proportions in a national radio game show held by one FM station. Out of six winners, three were Kikuyu and three were Luo. Does it mean that only people from the two tribes participated in this NATIONAL game show?

Consequently, the Kalenjin, Kamba, Mijikenda, Turkana, Taita, Somali, Maasai, Samburu, Kisii, Luhya, Pokot, Ogiek, and other communities are feeling left out in this new power dispensation. The sad reality is that if you are not a Kikuyu or a Luo in today’s Kenya, you stand little chance of making it in government and the private sector.

This is the exact situation that led to the formation of the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) back in 1960. KADU was led by the late Ronald Ngala. Other members included the late Masinde Muliro, former President Daniel arap Moi, and the late Sharif Nassir.

KADU was formed because the Kenya African National Union (KANU) was dominated by the Kikuyu and Luo. KANU’s leadership included the late Jomo Kenyatta and the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Raila’s father.KADU’s aim was to defend the interests of smaller tribes whose voices were ignored in KANU. In KADU was Ronald Ngala’s Mijikenda tribe, Moi’s Kalenjin and Masinde Muliro’s Luhya. Other tribes that shifted to KADU included the Maasai, Turkana, Samburu, Pokomo, Taita, Somali, among others. KADU wanted federalism, or Majimbo, to ensure that the Kikuyu and Luo did not eclipse the smaller tribes.

KANU won the independence elections and Jomo Kenyatta became Prime Minister. Kenyatta became convinced that KADU had a valid argument and negotiations began that brought the party into government. In 1964, KADU was satisfied with the talks, dissolved itself and joined KANU. It was a fortuitous move for Daniel arap Moi. He became Minister for Home Affairs and was later appointed Vice President by Kenyatta. In 1978, Kenyatta died and Moi took over in accordance with the constitution.

Back to the issue at hand.

The attempt to create diversity by favouring only Kikuyus and Luos is generating a lot of resentment among other tribes. Unless measures are taken to bring on board all communities, inter-ethnic relations in Kenya are likely to remain fraught with tension.

Kibaki buried ethnic reconciliation last Thursday

Kenya’s Grand Coalition last Thursday buried the country’s feeble efforts at ethnic reconciliation. The shreds of national healing were laid to rest together with the bodies of victims of the Kiambaa Church attacks.
 

Youths armed with crude weapons during political and ethnic clashes in Kenya. Picture by AFP.

Youths armed with crude weapons during political and ethnic clashes in Kenya. Picture by AFP.

38 bodies were buried at the Kiambaa church compound in a poorly organized ceremony led by President Mwai Kibaki. The victims were members of the Kikuyu tribe killed during the 2008 post election violence for supporting the President. President Kibaki is Kikuyu.

Kibaki, as usual, messed up what would have been a major milestone in Kenyan history. Instead of the mass funerals contributing to national healing, they have worsened inter-ethnic relations in Kenya. The situation is so bad that there are fears the bodies may be dug up by elements unhappy with the mass funeral.

As a pointer to how low the Kenyan state has sunk, Kibaki’s chief rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga skipped the ceremony. The entire rank and file of Raila’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party were missing at the ceremony. Even local elders and youths from the Kalenjin tribe opted to stay away, making the funeral an exclusively Kikuyu affair.

In a country where support for the President and Prime Minister split the country into two resulting in ethnic clashes last year, the Kiambaa events bode ill for Kenya’s future. Though the Grand Coalition is to blame, Kibaki’s poor handling of the funeral potrays his contempt for peace and reconciliation in Kenya.

ODM legislators say they were not involved in planning for the mass funeral. They were not invited either. Even Prime Minister Raila Odinga was apparently not aware that a mass funeral was in the offing. Government Chief Whip George Thuo, a key Kibaki ally, sent out mobile phone text messages to ODM leaders just hours to the funeral. Neither was the local ODM Member of Parliament kept abreast of events.

ODM has argued that President Kibaki did not attend the funerals of ODM supporters killed in Nairobi, Naivasha, Nakuru and Kisumu and the President was displaying ethnic discrimination by attending funerals of Kikuyu victims.

What should have been a sober moment of national soul-searching was turned into a mockery. This is the tragedy in which Kenyan leaders have driven the country. It is akin to having September 11 commemorations in the United States turned into a black-white or Republican-Democrat affair. Kenyan politicians simply lack a sense of shame as they turn politics into the national staple diet.

As Head of State, Kibaki should have ensured the total participation of all of Kenya’s political leaders. It is difficult to understand why elders in the vicinity and the area member of parliament were not involved. Kikuyu and Kalenjin families had lived peacefully together for decades until political incitement ruined that harmony. Kibaki should have created a situation that would enable the affected communities to remember the peaceful lives they shared until recently.

Kibaki should have engaged with Kalenjin leaders in a dialogue that could bring the Kalenjin community into participating in the mass funeral. The points of difference between the Kikuyu and Kalenjin are not as far apart as they appear. Indeed, Kalenjin political king-pin, William Ruto, has stated that the fighting was not about land but instead, it was political. That proves that Kenya does not need to wait for constitutional and land reforms to attain lasting peace in the country. If political differences between Kikuyu and Kalenjin leaders can be resolved, then incidences of clashes will be stopped.

At the national level, Kibaki should have consulted with ODM and personally invited them to the mass funeral. Had they been approached well in advance, it is very likely that Raila, Ruto and the rest of the ODM fraternity would have jumped at this rare opportunity to put the 2008 clashes behind us. There would have been speeches of forgiveness, co-operation and peace. People from the Kikuyu and Kalenjin tribes would have seen their leaders preach peace together. This alone would have made a major psychological impact.

But then, it is possible the funerals were never about national reconciliation. Kibaki is obsessed with returning the country to “normalcy” hence his decision to erase all marks of the post election violence. The president has ordered the closure of camps that hosted internally displaced persons. Those who were camping along major national highways have been pushed deep into the interior where they are out of sight.

Kibaki has been eager to get rid of the bodies of the Kiambaa Church for a long time and the mass funeral was the culmination of Kibaki’s displeasure at being constantly reminded of the plight of 2008 clash victims. The bodies that were buried on Thursday have been lying at the Moi Teaching and Referral hospital since January 2008.

A few months ago, the government was caught secretly burying the bodies with the help of the police. There was a public outcry and the scheme was abandoned. The Kikuyu were bewildered by Kibaki’s evil act. Last Thursday, Kibaki finally succeeded in getting rid of the bodies while masquerading the event as a state funeral.

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