The tragic political circus of Kenya’s giant coalition continues while hundreds of people die from famine, criminal gangs, road accidents and a rogue police force.
The country’s politics are so polarized that decisions cannot be made without a rabble-rousing furore that only worsens the moribund governance in the country.
Take for example the events of this week. A simple act of opening Parliament in order to discuss matters of crucial importance to Kenyans, ended in chaos. Why? The Vice President and Prime Minister could not agree who among them should be the leader of government business. The week ended with total paralysis in Parliament as House Speaker Kenneth Marende attempted to save face by promising to work with President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga in getting a solution to the impasse.
Outside Parliament, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka was vowing to stick to the fight. Kalonzo said that President Kibaki, who backs him as Leader of Government Business, was the country’s chief executive by election and agreement and deserved respect. “We are going to move on and there are no two ways about it,” chest-thumped Kalonzo.
For his part, Raila has stated that his ODM party will not allow another leader “with a party of 12 MPs” to assume the position while the Constitution was clear on the holder. “The Constitution says the leader of the party with majority MPs in the House becomes the Leader of Government Business. How can a leader of a party with 12 MPs lead the majority? Where on earth has this happened? This seat belongs to ODM and we cannot allow another mistake to occur,” Raila said at a burial in Eldoret East constituency.
The prolonged ODM – PNU rivalry is not doing much to enhance inter ethnic relations among Kenya’s 42 tribes. Issues are still interpreted along ethnic lines, using arguments like, “why can’t tribe X be satisfied with what they have,” or “Kenya would be better if tribe Y was not here …”
Politicians have absolutely managed to convince Kenyans that their rivalry is about ethnic competition, that the fight over power is about one ethnic group fighting it out with another. The reality is different though, for what we see in Kenya is a power struggle among the ruling elite. A younger political elite from the 1980s and 1990s seeks to overthrow the post colonial establishment that has ruled Kenya since 1963.
All the drama around power sharing, government posts, respect and carpets is a side show meant to hoodwink the gullible Kenyan public to the real struggle behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, Kenyans have bought the “ethnic struggle” lie almost completely and it is just a matter of time before a large conflagration drowns this beautiful East African state in the blood of innocents.