Shortly after the results of the August 8 election were declared, President Uhuru Kenyatta summoned Jubilee lawmakers to State House for their first Parliamentary Group meeting.
His party had won an impressive majority across all seats around the country.
“We are now only 13 members shy of a two-thirds majority, meaning we can even change the Constitution of Kenya without a single member of Nasa,” he would later brag.
During the private meeting, the president made it clear that it was his party and the legislators would have to do as he wanted.
Without discussion or consensus-building, the party’s leadership informed them of who would be the Majority Leader in the Senate and National Assembly, the respective speakers and other key positions in that arm of government.
Many of the MPs and Senators there were scandalised but none dared to speak up or even contradict “H.E”, as he is known to insiders, lest they face his wrath and fall afoul of the new state religion.
That meeting set the tone for President Kenyatta’s last term: it will be his way or the highway.
Even though he had gained ground in traditional opposition strongholds such as Kisii, Western Kenya and Kajiado, there remains a sizeable chunk of the population that is not convinced about his message and for whom his first term was largely disappointing.
Governors Hassan Joho and Amason Kingi are probably only finding a pliable audience for their secession crusade because they have genuine concerns about years of marginailsation and economic exclusion.
It was just the Mombasa Republican Council talking about the right to self-determination but now millions of people see it as a way out of this failed experiment called Kenya.
COUNTRY WILL BE DIVIDED
As President Kenyatta begins his second term today, he can’t go on with this take-it-or-leave attitude, or it will serve to further divide the country, not unite it.
Though he’s verbally promised to be the president of every Kenyan, including those who did not vote for him, his actions have almost always fallen short of that noble intention. In appointments to lucrative state positions, in allocations of resources and in political statements, there has always been a worrying double standard that falls hopelessly short of the equal treatment the job demands.
H.E. wears this beautiful Kenyan wristband and everyone around him somehow has one but the outward show of patriotism has a much more limited definition within this inner circle: you’re either with us or against us. The men — and they’re almost all men —who have President Kenyatta’s ear only respond to sycophants who sing their praises and arrogantly dismiss anyone who has a divergent point of view as a supporter of the Opposition and, therefore, unworthy of acknowledgement.
The obvious problem with such bootlickers is that they probably tell the president only what he wants to hear, protecting him from the critical feedback and tough love.
President Kenyatta must surround himself with more aides who are secure enough in themselves to give him a realistic assessment of what’s going on at all times. He needs to work fast to heal the wounds the extended, divisive election season has caused. With Nasa maintaining that they will not recognise him or his government, he has to tackle the resistance ahead with a clear mind and rational judgment.
The percentage of the population that feels disenfranchised after this entire process is too large to ignore, as former President Robert Mugabe recently learnt.
If his security forces keep shooting dead innocent civilians exercising their rights to protest, he will soon have a full-blown revolution on his hands, and it might be difficult to survive.
This administration has been surprisingly intolerant of criticism, considering the solid media backgrounds of many in the State House communications team.
Journalists who toe the line, report favourably and fawn over officials in exchange for access got all the interviews with the President, his deputy and Cabinet while the rest made do with media briefings and press releases.
A review of which journalists and/or media houses interviewed the President or his deputy since 2013 and comparing it to their editorial output should be very instrumental in understanding this strange phenomenon. It worries me that professionals in charge of messaging for a government expect adoring coverage in the national media, as if we were North Korea or someplace worse.
Some notoriously poor performing Cabinet secretaries should also? be fired pronto.
That waste, pilferage and grand corruption has taken on monumental scale during President Kenyatta’s first term is not news.
It is time to rein in the government’s spending, and borrowing, and refocus on priorities that need immediate attention. We’ve already spent a ridiculous Sh300m on an inauguration ceremony, which tells you all you need to know about how out-of-touch the decision-makers are. Hopefully, the hard-won freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution will continue to flourish without being curtailed like in these ominous last few weeks.
Is he right? Send your comments to Larry Madowo at [email protected]
SEASON TWO OF GOVERNORS, DEPUTIES FIGHT ON
The disagreements between Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Babayao Waititu and his deputy, Dr James Nyoro, have spilt into the open.
So strained is that relationship that they openly feuded before DP William Ruto at a church service, no less.
Babayao accuses the agricultural economist of “making too much noise” while the deputy governor is reportedly unhappy with his boss’ abrasive style.
This was the same week Nairobi Deputy Governor Polycarp Igathe was forced to deny that relations between him and his boss, Mike Sonko, were frosty. The city governor also made a big show of unity, sharing pictures of a meeting he chaired and attended by Igathe as a sign that all was well. The similarities in the two counties are obvious: charismatic governors with questionable academic or management experience tap deputies with solid resumés to win elections but then quickly fall out. Similar issues must be playing out in many other counties even without press coverage.
Bernard Kiala broke ranks with Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua almost immediately after the last election and they barely tolerated each other for the rest of their term. You’re not supposed to outshine the master but what if you’re smarter than them?
IN LIBYA, A MODERN SLAVE TRADE
Imagine being sold for just Sh40,000. You’re merchandise now, someone’s slave and they immediately put you to work while beating you up and denying you food or regular breaks. That is the reality of the modern-day slave trade in Libya uncovered by a CNN investigation.
Thousands of African migrants hoping to be smuggled into Europe for a better life are languishing in the North African nation and some are getting traded like goods in 2017! Rwanda offered to resettle the 30,000 Africans currently enslaved in the country as condemnation flowed from everywhere but little else.
American President Donald Trump’s response? Criticising CNN International for representing the US poorly to the rest of the world, not offering leadership at a time of great crisis.
“I call on all African member states, private sector and African citizens to pool resources and add the voices to support our brothers and sisters suffering in Libya,” tweeted African Union chair Moussa Faki. What a time to be alive!