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Kibaki’s political dustbin

By | October 4th 2009

By Joe Kiarie and Kenfrey Kiberenge

They came; they reigned and then fell. And in their hour of need, the man they ardently fought for just sat back and watched as they faded into oblivion.

This is the fairytale of the long list of personalities who have found their way into President Kibaki’s bulging political dustbin. The bin has immediate former Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission director Justice Aaron Ringera as the latest casualty.

One by one, individuals who were Kibaki’s loyal disciples from his times in the Democratic Party, and who helped him become Kenya’s third Head of State, have found themselves tossed into the political cold, with the President keeping a studious silence as some of them are skinned in public.

And not even some of the President’s former golfing buddies have been spared the neglect. They now rarely make it to the State House diary. Ask Matere Keriri.

Ringera’s mortifying resignation last Wednesday came barely a month after Kibaki reappointed him and his two assistants – Fatuma Sichale and Smokin Wanjala – for a second term, without parliamentary approval. This sparked widespread condemnation of the former Court of Appeal judge and the outfit he led.

And even as Parliament, the public, the civil society, and envoys demonised Ringera, who has been accused of shielding top names in the Kibaki administration against prosecution, over his reappointment, Kibaki did not utter a word.

Lost favour

And this was not the first time that individuals who had been loyal to the President were lynched in public or systematically frustrated as he watched from the comfort of State House.

In April, Kibaki discarded one of his most trusted and finest defenders, former Justice Minister Martha Karua.

The Iron Lady of Kenyan politics, who had gained a reputation as the President’s last line of defence, quit her ministerial post citing frustrations in discharging her official duties. The acerbic tongue she had reserved for Kibaki’s enemies is today whipping the homeboys she once staked her reputation to defend.

Then there was Samuel Kivuitu, the former Electoral Commission of Kenya chairman, who was rendered jobless last year, barely a year after handing Kibaki another five-year term in office.

Until December 30, 2007, the whole world pegged the success of the General Election on Kivuitu’s integrity; a gamble many would rue as the country erupted into violence, and Kivuitu relapsed into monologues to save his skin.

Again, the President did not come to his defence, even as Kivuitu thought he would do with a good turn from Kibaki.

The list of individuals who have devotedly stood by Kibaki, only to be dumped and fade into oblivion as he watched, is endless.

Access barred

Talk of his former personal assistant Alfred Getonga, his former strategic policy advisor Stanley Murage, former Ethics PS John Githongo, former State House Comptroller Matere Keriri, former Vice-President Moody Awori, former Trade Minister Mukhisa Kituyi, former Internal Security Minister Chris Murungaru, ex-Starehe MP Maina Kamanda, and former Tourism Assistant Minister Kalembe Ndile. Kalembe has often claimed he cannot even get appointment to see the President.

The list also has Kibaki’s longtime ally and current DP chairman Joseph Munyao, immediate former Police Commissioner Major-General Hussein Ali, former Finance Minister David Mwiraria, Garsen MP Danson Mungatana, former Co-operatives Development Minister Njeru Ndwiga, and so on.

Interestingly, Kibaki has offered political lifeline to some individuals who he came to know as president, and who never contributed to his ascent to power.

An example is former Foreign Affairs Minister Raphael Tuju and his former Environment counterpart Kivutha Kibwana. The two were appointed to the prestigious but amorphous post of special advisors after losing their parliamentary seats.

Adams Oloo, a political science lecturer at the University of Nairobi, says the President has been prompted to dump his supporters whenever faced with sustained public pressure.

Carry your own cross

"It is a question of do I fall with you or do I let you go? But for Kibaki when the pressure is about to swallow his presidency, he sacrifices you," argues Dr Oloo, citing Ringera and Ali, as examples.

But he says the Head of State always picks those he wants after the pressure subsides, adding that most politicians ‘dumped themselves’ by losing in the 2007 elections.

"People like Mwiraria and Awori would have been in the Cabinet had they retained their seats," he states.

But Macharia Munene, a political analyst, says the President’s hands-off style plays a big part in the ‘dumping’.

"He gives you a job and leaves you to it. If you run into hurdles, you are on your own," Prof Munene argues.

He notes that most of Kibaki’s fallen lieutenants were casualties of political games, where their opponents outwitted them.

"At times they left office due to political battles and not because they did what they were accused of," he added.

The analyst says Kibaki is today faced with fewer positions to reward his supporters due to the power sharing agreement as opposed to the post-2002 era.

Politician-cum-lawyer Wanyiri Kihoro says Kibaki is never concerned with creating a protective wall around him and deems those loyal to him as political volunteers.

"Unlike Moi, Kibaki has proved that he belongs to the old school where you do not build a political ring, but just expect things to work out on their own the same way the Queen of England would do in a royalty," he says.

Kihoro says that Kibaki is being isolated because his lieutenants have realised he cannot use the immense powers vested in the presidency to protect them when in need.

"He is a general without command. When it comes to official duties, he never thinks of people who are loyal to him. He has systematically betrayed his political supporters, and that is his main undoing, unlike Moi who built a political empire around him," he states.

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