History has time and again stubbornly reminded us that in the absence of an open society and good governance, a regenerative economic order is birthed either by popular will, or a benevolent dictator. In Kenya, as in most Africa countries, the benevolent dictator project has not been feasible because gluttony and benevolence are immiscible.
However, there are a few necessary and sufficient conditions for effective dictatorship. The first condition is the ability to enact and enforce repressive laws buoyant of the regime. The second condition is the ability to inspire cultic following and adoration from the populace, either by using the bayonet or propaganda. It certainly helps to have both. The third condition is having a band of loyal court poets whose job description is to parrot and sing praises to the regime and militantly protect its rhetoric.
The fourth condition is having a total grip on the state, government and political organs. Uhuru Kenyatta has failed spectacularly to satisfy any of these conditions and therefore can’t be a dictator, let alone a benevolent one who can steer Kenya towards economic transformation. If anything, his attempts to overstep legality have been clipped by an increasingly strong judiciary.
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Kenyans are on the edge with very little hope in Jubilee administration’s will, or the ability to transform the economy to be inclusive and fertile to create jobs and business opportunities. Recent by-elections in Ugenya and Embakasi South are the clearest signal of a citizenry weary of the political establishment and a lame duck administration made up of rich kids and an old boys’ network out of touch with a life-threatening drought and a collapsing economy. If these aren’t writings on the wall for the political class, then we have all along overrated its intelligence.
World over, people are losing faith in party politics and small, exclusive clubs of political power brokers. People are tired of sustaining pseudo royalties made of political fat cats and their court poets. In the United Kingdom, the people voted for Brexit in the June 2016 plebiscite against the wish of the political class. This cost David Cameron his political career as Leader of the Conservatives and Prime minister. In our case, the political indiscipline syndrome blinds the political class from reading the writing on the wall.
Political indiscipline is a syndrome that numbs the ability of the political class to become responsive to the plight of the peasant classes. Its most apparent symptom is the ooze of pungent puss made up of a blend of corruption, plunder and incompetence.
All these have a way of pushing the populace to the edge, leaving the people with no choice but to withdraw the privilege of delegated power yielded to politicians through representation. We can draw parallels with the Sudan where the people have withdrawn the privilege of delegated power from the regime of Hasan Omar el-Bashir whose political indiscipline led to spiraling costs of living and deterioration of economic conditions.
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The Jubilee administration has demonstrated the highest levels of political indiscipline. They pledged to make Kenya food secure and to bridge the housing deficit. This was even printed into a policy document, part of the Big 4 Agenda. But so bad is the unhygienic display of political indiscipline that instead of food security, Kenya is grappling with a white elephant that is Galana Kulalu Irrigation Development Project. Today, the Government has moved in to implement the housing levy whose implication is to raid 1.5 per cent from every payslip, despite opposition from most Kenyans.
Perhaps the housing pillar of the Big Four agenda is a good idea, and perhaps Kenyans ought to support it. But the guys who were to build five international stadiums, are the same guys who were to build houses for our police force, are the same guys who promised kids laptops, and are the same guys can’t explain whether or not money was stolen in the dams’ debacle. Kenyans have every reason not to trust the Government with the National Housing Development Fund.
Parliament should also be cautioned, as it beats logic how this legislation passed through Parliament when the mood of the people was against it. Kenya’s legislature is also playing in the orchestra of political indiscipline, and should be reminded that in 2014, when the Parliament of Burkina Faso joined the unholy enterprise of elongating Blaise Compaore’s term in office as President, the people set the parliament building in Ouagadougou ablaze.
Mr Karugu is a strategy and analytics consultant based in Nairobi. [email protected]