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Now even the village idiot bets Kibaki and Raila are a big joke

By | Jul 19th 2009 | 3 min read

By Denis galava

The Church dismissed them as moribund and ineffectual. The Cabinet thinks they are impotent monarchs, and MPs treat them like pallbearers. Even their spouses seem more authoritative and believable.

Why are the President and Prime Minister attracting so much derision? Until Kofi Annan forwarded the envelope containing names of suspected architects of post-election violence to the ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, we had got accustomed to Kibaki and Raila being tossed around by a cabal of younger leaders itching to replace them as tribal lords.

Former Justice Minister Martha Karua took the battle to Kibaki and lost, while Agriculture Minister William Ruto left little to the imagination that he is the kingmaker in Raila’s party. Prior to that, Parliament had served them two cups of humiliation — and counting — with MPs rarely heeding their call on anything.

Then the envelope happened, and the floodgates swung open. Envoys who had been accused of being in bed with the pair have found their tongues. The pair is now taking orders from the European Union on how to govern justly. An Argentine at The Hague has put the justice system on notice. The Cabinet is no longer bound by collective responsibility, and the public thinks Raila and Kibaki have neither the will nor the muscle to act even in their own interest. Only the Civil Service and the Disciplined Forces are yet to rebel, at least in public.

With such a low quotient of authority, it not surprising that nobody wants to consort with the principals. Since May last year, the country has been in a political stasis. ODM is not happy with Raila as its leader, but cannot come up with a better alternative. PNU is no more inspired by Kibaki. Though they have been struggling to keep their promises of cross-party co-operation, Raila and Kibaki know they are taking part in an ugly dance that neither can choreograph. Imitation and resentment go together.

But the public and clergy seem to have missed the point. We have failed to appreciate that Raila is a war general who excels in combat but when he gets the power, he does not know what to do with it. Tranquillity inspires docility and tames the ambition in him. When he was on the attack in 2007, he was peerless and his ratings were high.

Now that he is in Government, even his most loyal lieutenants in Kibera boo him. The transition from opposition leader to PM could have moved him to the crucible of power, but lost Raila the man. To remain relevant, he needs to constantly wage war. But can he, and will we trust him again?

Kibaki, on the other hand, is a master of deception. He flourishes when everything runs by itself and he is not expected to provide leadership. He rides on the crest of success as was the case in December 2002 and conveniently retires to obscurity during crises, leaving his acolytes to fight his battles. In 2007, there was Martha Karua, Kalembe Ndile, and Simeon Nyachae et al to stave off the attacks and keep him on the radar. Now they are vanquished and the master of deception is sullied.

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka, the only other viable option in the triangle, is emasculated by big ambition and deficit of clout. He wants to be President, he thinks he is smarter, more religious and less tainted by scandal, but he is yet to turn on a constituency big enough to walk his dream.

Then there is Agriculture Minister William Ruto and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, the first among the pretenders to the throne. Both are warriors bogged down by unbridled ambition, the primitive expectations of their tribes, and the fear of other communities. The more they seek to entrench themselves, the more they must look over their shoulders lest stray political bullets fell them. And even then they must first exorcise the ghost of post-election violence. The same can be said of almost all those who have shown interest in the presidency.

In other words, our problems are bigger than just a moribund President and an ineffectual Prime Minister. We have so many people claiming to be leaders but none is intelligent, exerting and focused enough. The French found themselves in General Charles de Gaulle, Rwandans tenaciously gripped it in President Kagame. Who will do it for us? Afande? God forbid.

The writer ([email protected]) is Senior Associate Editor, Weekend Editions

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