Spare poor Kenyans this political shenanigans

Deputy President William Ruto chats with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. [DPPS]
A day in politics is like 1000 years, and a thousand years like a day. Positions can shift, and things can change in the blink of an eye. Politicians often look unruffled by the inherent instability of their occupation, but beneath the surface their little legs are paddling madly, trying to stay afloat in an industry – and I used that word with much consideration – where job security is completely unassured.

One day you’re in with the cool kids, and the next you’re out in the cold. Life would be complete horror for politicians were it not for the fact that there are no permanent enemies in politics. Bridges can be built between any number of varying extremes, and alliances can be formed between the unlikeliest of candidates. To paraphrase Shakespeare, ‘politics acquaints a man with strange bedfellows’, aptly lifted from a play titled, ‘The Tempest’.

Nothing proves this better than the ongoing battle for Kibra Constituency. You can imagine the amount of wheeler-dealing that is going on behind the scenes, and the number of hands that have been shaken to achieve a desired result. It looks like confusion, but like most things in the political arena, it is organised chaos. There is a method to the madness.

Take for instance President Uhuru Kenyatta’s endorsement of McDonald Mariga. It seemed to come out of left field, even though as party leader, it should have been expected. On the other hand, in this post-handshake dispensation, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable for him to stand with his brother Raila Odinga.

Grand act

After all, Kibra is Raila’s playground, and a predominantly an ODM zone. But no, the President chose to stand with his other brother William Ruto. So, Uhuru is now the man in the middle, straddling the fence between a rock and a hard place.

It is difficult to tell whether he is writing the script, or simply playing his part. One thing is for sure though, it is all a grand act, and the final performance is billed for 2022.

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See, politicos rarely speak words that return to them empty. They do not make hollow gestures. There is rhyme, and there is reason. Just like the universe. Just like God. But God is more intelligent, and infinitely wiser.

Recently, I’ve been seeking the face of God more than I ever have before because of the helplessness I feel as a Kenyan. The powerlessness to stop the State from using me for purposes that are undisclosed.

I feel like a chicken being shooed out of one box and forced into another, never knowing when I might end up on the dinner table. Like I have no political-agency, and absolutely no say in who becomes the next chief executive of Kenya Inc.

It’s gotten to the point where amending the Constitution is beginning to sound appealing. Because the proposed changes–selfish though they are–would create space for everyone in the merry band of brothers. With that being the case, there would be no reason for this high-octane scheming and plotting.

If the most problematic among them could be assured of a seat at the table, that would be incentive to relax, no? These endless machinations we have allowed them to indulge in–in the name of representative democracy–would become meaningless.

Let’s face it guys, this democracy of ours is not fit for purpose. It is merely a vehicle with a singular destination – power. We have seen the consequences and they are ugly. If I had to choose, I would opt for a government of national unity.

I would allow everyone into the fold, increase the number of non-elective positions, give everyone a deputy, and that deputy a deputy, reinstate a prime minister, create an irrelevant and unnecessary ceremonial presidency, and pay them all obscene amounts of money – just go the whole hog and give Kenyans representation on steroids.

On one condition, though: For that proposed seven-year term, they would have to keep their mouths shut and deliver on their promises. But I don’t get to choose, and even if I did, the road to this hell we live in is already paved with election promises. And new constitution or not, I have no faith in those calling the shots currently.

The sad thing is that we only need two things from government: Respect for our dignity, and services that work. We haven’t gotten either since the tale of two elections in 2017. Instead we are in the manic grip of a campaign season for an election that is almost three years away, living on a diet of meaningless rhetoric. At this point, I can only look to the hills and pray that God has not forsaken us.

Ms Masiga is Peace and Security Editor, The Conversation Africa

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Julie MasigaMcDonald MarigaPresident Uhuru KenyattaKibra ConstituencyODMRaila Odinga