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Why political vultures are circling

By | January 13th 2010

Andrew Kipkemboi

Finally, the Nzamba Kitonga–led Committee of Experts has reached a milestone in its mandate. Consequently, the next two weeks will determine whether the lessons of the past have had any impact in how we want to move forward as a nation.

Constitutions the world over are negotiated documents. It is a formal expression of the common good and the ultimate protector of our common interests.

Yet there is always the lingering threat of the elite taking over and imprinting their interests over those of the citizenry.

On this score, the CoE has done well. It refused to be persuaded by the political class, the church, civil society on the nature and content of our Constitution. Good as they are, our individual interests must yield to the greater collective interests of the 35 million Kenyans.

And that is why it is outrageous that the politicians are driving the debate towards the highway of ethnic bigotry. Forget about the so-called PNU or ODM positions. These are tribal gangs. The pretence at espousing party positions is a lie that only they believe in.

Obviously, the impasse on whether to adopt a presidential or a parliamentary system is born out of the fact that many of those on the parties’ negotiating table want to draw a survival kit for their future.

Their talk is tinged with fake nationalism. The rhetorical chaff that is thrown up to disguise their appalling mendacity.

Racial domination is probably more tolerable than tribal or class domination. Wars have been fought across Africa whenever it was felt that one tribe was loading it over the other. The Rwandan tragedy pitting the Hutu against the Tutsi is a classic example. An element of our Post-Election Violence is probably largely symptomatic of ethnic loyalties gone awry.

Perpetual paralysis

Of course we have not helped things as citizens. We are in a perpetual paralysis that is gnawing at the very heart of our nation. We have become captive to the insidious cancer being spread by quislings and charlatans who presume we are their private property.

We must, therefore, rise up and stop squandering the opportunity to build a just and sustainable society. We have seen how the twin nightmare of poverty and unemployment has been used to propagate cronyism and ethnic loyalties.

Let us all look President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga in the eye and ask them to come clean and lead from the front. They must take responsibility. The central objective of accountability is to remain faithful to the common good. Kibaki and Raila must step forward with real effort and commitment for a new constitution. Every part of this nation is reeling from pain and hurt inflicted by ethnic chauvinists who stoke the embers of ethnic bigotry. Like vultures who have smelled death, they are now circling over the new law.

Yet the cut-and-thrust of it is that the forces grinding against each other represent Central Kenya versus Luo Nyanza and/or Rift Valley. Therefore the reality is, a Central Kenya party cannot have its leader picked as prime minister whatsoever.

And those in ODM side appreciate that if a presidential race were called, the odds are stack against them, but know that that they will always have majority MPs and that the physical counting of MPs in Parliament cannot be misrepresented.

If we need to bring to an end bad governance, mismanagement and the endemic corruption and at the same time wear down the invidious way that politics has encouraged and fed it, then we must turn our backs on the wayward politicians.

In the past, the public has meekly capitulated to political gangsterism. That must stop.

Because all of us somehow agree albeit wistfully that we need a system that will rescue us from the anarchy and the rotteness of our politics.

But the politicians don’t see it that way. The self –regarding ruling elite would want to thwart a constitution that doesn’t ensure that they sit in the middle of the political equation. Many of us agree that the self-destructing attrition that nearly tipped over the country two years ago was because of one centre of power. At the same time, all of us agree that we need the powers dispersed accordingly more for the survival of the country and less for the politics of democracy.

Some old geezers

The discord amongst the political parties is less because of the good of Kenya than because of the proportion of sharing the spoils after an election.

Yet it is easy to wave their fears aside as the phantasmagoria of some old geezers. But trust me if nothing else, it is time to take greater responsibility for our democracy, it is time to sweep aside the old, divisive sentiments, time to stand up to those who fight to maintain the status quo, time to demand a constitution that serves the public good.

And now to PSC. This is your moment. It is yours to lose. If you prevaricate or equivocate, this opportunity may slip away. And you will just have accomplished another act of betrayal to your nation. And our collective outrage will forever be with you.

The writer is The Standard’s Foreign News Editor.

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