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Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia lifts the lid on Deep State and its influence in polls

By Brian Otieno and Judah Ben-Hur | September 22nd 2021
Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia [File]

Hidden in the shadows, away from unsuspecting eyes of Kenyans lies a well-structured network of individuals who control the formal State apparatus, using it to advance their interests.

Until recently, the infamous Deep State, was discussed in hushed tones, with politicians praising or chiding its alleged influence on democratic processes. Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia yesterday gave a glimpse into the operations of this cabal that calls the shots in the running of government affairs.

In an interview on Citizen TV, Mr Kimemia fell short of saying that the Deep State had the power to subvert the electoral process, and violate the will of the people. “Of course the (Deep) State exists,” the Nyandarua County boss said in response to a question on its existence.

“It could be deeper than deep... if you have two candidates – let’s say – at 50-50, and the Deep State backs one, you can be sure that one will win the election… but that candidate must be credible and electable,” he said.

While Deputy President William Ruto has dismissed talk of the Deep State as being capable of influencing the elections, Dr Oburu Oginga – brother to ODM leader Raila Odinga – has hailed it as the boon to Raila’s presidential quest.

“Why haven’t we gone to State House when we have actually won the elections through votes? This is because there is something which we were missing and that something is called the System,” Oburu said in August 2020.

On the kind of power this clique wields to influence the presidential race, Kimemia’s remarks were startling.

“Frankly, if a popular candidate is backed by the State, I think it would be foolhardy to assume that you can be able to defeat that candidate,” he stated, adding that international interests, too, had a bearing on the elections.

“If they (International community interests), combined with the so called Deep State, you can be sure your goose is cooked,” he added.

Kimemia served as the Head of Public Service in former President Mwai Kibaki’s regime, a position deemed to form a critical part of the deep state. This coterie also, allegedly, comprises top officials in the Interior Ministry, cascading down to the lowest cadres of the Provincial Administration, domiciled within the ministry.

His revelations lift the lid on the influence the cabal commands over democratic processes.

Strangely, Kimemia’s remarks mirror similar findings of a report dubbed “Democracy Capture in Africa,” which alleges the existence of a “cohort of powerful actors, situated in and out of the State,” with the power to subvert the will of the people in advancing personal interests across Africa.

The report notes that in Kenya, a covert group of people have control of facets of the electoral process, including appointments of the electoral agency, the administration of elections and the adjudication of electoral disputes.

The Deep State’s greatest arsenal is the control of the top most office in government –  the Presidency.

“In the first place, the concentration of immense and discretionary powers in the president – who then acts as the grand patron, dispensing State resources to the chosen few but ensuring to keep large chunks for himself and family – facilitates this extraction enterprise,” reads the report.

Through the immense understanding of the oblivious citizenry, the Deep State is skilled in controlling the people by, “manipulating its social characteristics such as ethnicity,” and making them support current regimes even though the government hardly delivers for the public’s good.

In Kenya’s case, Migai Akech, for instance, argues that business moguls and top government officials fund campaigns to ensure that the successive regime is friendlier to their needs.

“They do so primarily to protect vested interests and retain their influence over, and control of, the State,” reads the report in part, a finding similar to claims by Kimemia.

The Nyandarua governor said that the Deep State could influence an election in favour of a candidate who would “ensure continuity – either regime continuity, ideological continuity or material continuity.” His assertion gives credence to Prof Akech’s argument.

“In this scheme, elections are neither free nor fair but are nonetheless considered important for conferring regime legitimacy,” reads the report.

Kimemia fell short of claiming that weak electoral systems allowed the Deep State to have their way in subverting democracy, dismissing claims that such a cabal participates in vote-rigging.

The report on the capture of democracy alleges that such ineffective systems are a result of deliberate clampdowns by the shadowy figures who straddle the public and private sector to enforce their wishes.

But more shocking is perhaps how deeply entrenched the systems of capture are. Prof Akech’s findings chronicle the history of this capture, which he traces back to the colonial administration, which had figures who blatantly made the law subservient to themselves.

Successive regimes, the report adds, borrowed this oligarch-style government, which had networks that permeated the grassroots.

“Deep State also includes people in the villages. It goes up to the polling station,” Kimemia claimed.

University of Nairobi lecturer of political science Prof Philip Nying’uro points to “invisible big brothers” who pulling the strings from the shadows while politicians are the puppets used in the mission.

“Kenya’s politics since the beginning of multiparty has been driven by elite consensus while the people are made to believe they are the ones selecting the leaders,” says Prof Nying’uro.

“At the end of the day, the people with money and influence are the one who determine the outcomes in this country,” argues Amukowa Angangwe, a professor of political science.

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