Right in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis, Kenyans are being treated to an example of how dimwitted and unfocused their leaders are. The battle between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto is gaining pace steadily. That senior members of our ruling elite have time for this, at this crucial time, shows how casually they take their duties.
Five senators who did not support President Uhuru’s move of “fumigating the Jubilee party” are to face disciplinary action from the Jubilee party. They include Iman Dekow, Millicent Omanga, Victor Prengei, Naomi Jillo and Mary Yiane. The ultimate plan may be to get rid of them from the party simply because they appeared to support the Deputy President by not showing up for a meeting with the President.
Kenyatta recently convened a Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting that ratified the controversial removal of Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and his Nakuru counterpart Susan Kihika as Majority Leader and Majority Whip respectively. The two are perceived as allies of Ruto
The language being used is telling. Newspaper headlines carrying words such as “fumigate” show exactly what Uhuru thinks of Ruto and his supporters. In the president’s mind, they are not equal partners in this alliance – Uhuru feels he owns the house and can get rid of “pests” that have been enjoying the comfort of his shelter. His Secretary General, Raphael Tuju, in explaining what is planned for the senators is even more revealing as it seems the decision has already been taken.
They have to explain why they didn’t attend the PG. The object of the summons is to subject them to a disciplinary process that shall result in expulsion. Those with genuine reasons will be spared based on the outcome of the disciplinary process
Between 2003 and 2007, Kenyans witnessed the deterioration of the relationship between 2 coalition partners, Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga. Four years of infighting and mutual disrespect resulted in parting of ways and a disputed election that still haunts Kenya’s memory. It did not appear to be a big deal when the squabbling began but it built up slowly, tit for tat, until it was simply out of control.
Uhuru is not content to have Murkomen and Kihika’s heads on a platter. He is now combing through his backyard to identify MPs who support Ruto and will only rest when they lose their seats. In his crosshairs are Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, Kandara MP Alice Wahome, Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua and Kikuyu’s Kimani Ichung’wa
In an unprecedented move, the head of state plans to pitch camp in select Mount Kenya constituencies to spearhead the removal of some elected MPs through the recall clause. This would be a Kenyan first.
Such energy would have been very welcome in fighting Corona virus. It is admirable that the president wants this task done to completion and it proves that when he puts his mind to something, he can complete it. If only it was the right task. For a President and DP who were elected on a promise to unite the country, their score card is hardly impressive.
All in all, the tempo is picking up ahead of the 2022 elections. These machinations create tension in Kenya among the politicians and their supporters and they lead to more entrenched positions creating a dangerous attitude of “us versus them”. If unchecked, they can easily lead to the horrid post-election violence that was witnessed in 2008, leading to over 1500 dead and about 600,000 displaced.
While ultimately Kenyans must be accountable for their actions, the civil society, the members of the fourth estate and the international community must not keep silent when these early war drums are being played. The media, for example, must stop these incendiary and cheerleading headlines and instead call out the leaders for their irresponsible utterances and actions. When the music finally stops, it is the poor people who are left without a seat.
If it was possible to separate their actions and words from the wider interests of Kenya, Uhuru and Ruto could be left alone to humiliate each other as much as they like. Theirs, after all, is a convenient fellowship of thieves and as such we do not expect them to conduct their affairs in an honourable manner. However, we must ask ourselves if they are not already setting us up to be at each others’ throats in 2022. If they are and all indications are that this is the case, they must be stopped, at all costs.
We have paid the price before. The lessons remain with us.