Friday, October 31, 2008

Who Controls ODM?

In Kenya every political party “ina wenyewe” has its owners. Who are the owners of ODM? After ODM rejected the Waki Report (The Daily Nation, 31 October 2008), the question becomes pertinent. Earlier in the year I wrote in this blog about Demystifying ODM (see below) because I believed that ODM was taking Kenyans for a ride with their pro-masses and pro-people rhetoric – “ODM has camouflaged its anti-masses agenda through leftist and popular rhetoric”, I wrote. But I found an appropriate article debunking ODM myth by Mukoma wa Ngugi “Understanding the Kenyan Opposition”. If you have not read that article and you want to understand who owns ODM you better do so now.

Coming back to who controls ODM, the rejection of Waki report answers the question. Ngugi identified three forces in work in ODM.

“Within the opposition leadership (or the Pentagon as they refer to themselves), there are at least three competing elements -- the activist-intellectual left, the Moi-ist retrogressives, and the populists, he wrote.”

It is now clear as daylight that the populist faction led by the Prime Minister Raila Odinga does not control ODM. Others in this group may be Musalia Mudavadi and James Orengo. Raila does not also seem to have the control of the Luo Members of Parliament as one would think. They defied him for supporting the implementation of the Waki report and even purported to gag him from speaking out on national issues. The Standard 31 October 2008 wrote:

“Nyanza MPs have asked Prime Minister Raila Odinga to consult his ODM colleagues before commenting on sensitive national issues. The MPs also told Cabinet ministers Anyang’ Nyong’o and James Orengo to be careful while contributing to political issues. Sources at a meeting held at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Centre said the 14 MPs also cautioned the PM over his position on the Mau Forest. "We asked him to be careful with political issues, which we felt may not augur well for his political future," said an MP, who attended the meeting. The MPs told the PM to his face they would not tolerate any more outbursts from him. "We sought to know from him, what interest he had on the Waki Report or Mau Forest to go the extent of committing political suicide while there are ministers supposed to handle the issues," the source said.”

Even the maverick James Orengo was made to eat his own words.

The stormy meeting saw Mr Orengo withdraw and apologise over remarks he had made that those named in the list should carry their own crosses.

The activist-intellectual left led by Anyang’ Nyong'o does not too control ODM. Nyong'o has not made his position on the Waki report known so far. His colleague, with whom they led this faction during the pre- and post-election, Salim Lone has since quit his job as the adviser of the Prime Minister. Perhaps he realised that the owners of ODM were about to claim its control and made an early exit.

That leaves us with the Moi-ist retrogressives. For all practical purposes this is the faction controlling ODM. It is led by William Ruto and William Ole Ntimama. This is the group where those allegedly involved in past and the recent impunity congregate. Ruto, Ntimama, Henry Kosgey and Fred Ngumo were the first out to trash the Waki report in the ODM. They have now enlisted most of ODM politicians especially MPs. Most of the MPs in ODM belonged to the past Moi era and part of his regimes impunity. It is not surprising now that they are taking control of ODM to shield the impunity. They have even the impunity to declare that they will protect those on the secret list.

“ODM on Thursday rejected the Waki report on post-election violence as its leaders said they would resist attempts to charge any of those named in a secret list of suspected perpetrators.” The Daily Nation 31 October 2008.

By the time of writing PNU has yet to issue its official stand on the Waki report. When they do then we will know who owns PNU too. But from their utterances it is not difficult to tell. We, however, give them the benefit of doubt for now until they state their official position.

The Waki report belongs to the people of Kenya and international community not the politicians who are part of the impunity. The politicians have been taking the people for granted. They unleash impunity and declare themselves innocent. It is time to reject all politicians who reject the Waki report. The people should support implementation of the report and refuse to be divided on ethnic lines by the politicians. The international community should now know all Kenyan politicians are the same and support the people of Kenya in bringing those in the secret list to the International Criminal Court.

This is the time for the civil society, religious faiths and all people of Kenya to stand together against the monster of impunity. Don’t fall prey to the divisive tactics of the politicians this time round. It is time to demand Justice.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Kibaki and Raila Should take a Retreat Urgently

Kriegler and Waki reports are a damning audit of Kenyan leadership, institutions and society. According to the reports, leadership and institutions in every sector of the society were culpable for the political and moral decadence that led to the pre-election and post-election violence. The reports unanimous conclusion is that the culture of lawlessness, disregard of rule of law and impunity in society, is to blame. The reckless culture was exhibited by the top most State executives down the hierarchy to the ordinary persons.

The report by Kriegler went further and stated that even a new constitution may not solve the problem which basically is cultural in nature. It demanded a head on, no nonsense approach to deal with the lawlessness and impunity. Waki report reiterated the same and offered a prescription for dealing with the problem through establishment of a special tribunal to investigate and prosecute those bearing greatest responsibility in the matter. In addition, both reports recommended a complete legal and institutional overhaul and reform to ensure transparency and accountability.

The task ahead is enormous and requires creativity, honesty and forthrightness. The national behavior of pointing fingers, blame and burying the head in the sand will not do this time. There is no single institution that with moral authority left to suggest others are to blame. The entire country should stop and examine itself as cosmetic solutions are not appropriate. The country needs long lasting and sustainable legislative and institutional solutions.

When the leadership and institutional credibility in the society is questionable, hope for restoration and renewal resides in the highest authority in the country. The President and the Prime Minister are the highest authorities in the country as leaders of the government of coalition. During the post-election crisis the country trusted Kibaki and Raila to rise to the occasion and end the violence. They did. Now again the society expects them to show leadership and restore the dignity and respectability of the nation.

The grave conclusions by the two reports should have made the two leaders to go to a close door retreat urgently in order to discuss the reports and come out with a blueprint on the way ahead. The compromised Cabinet and Parliament might not have the faith of the people to do this. Their role currently, until they are also reformed, should be to give administrative and legal effect to the decisions of the principals. That is an indication of the level and extent of decay in the national institutions and society.

The modus operandi here my sound dictatorial, but during institutional crisis, as the one the country is facing now, a singular and purposive direction is required. Taking a leaf from the prevailing international financial crisis, the big capitalist countries’ leadership moved very fast, without any delay, to arrest the situation. The way they did it cannot be said to be democratic. Decisions were made by the top most government executive authorities and were presented to their institutions for administrative and legal authorization. Less is expected in Kenya now.