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We could have done better, says former VP Kalonzo Musyoka

By By Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka | December 28th 2013

The year 2013 has been a remarkable year for Kenya and its people. It has been an unpredictable and politically interesting period. It has also been a time of swirling tide of events when dreams were shattered and hopes trampled upon.

There were moments when democracy was on trial and a people’s patience stretched to nearly breaking point. It has been a time too of great expectations when Kenya discovered more wealth below its earth’s surface and the people of the once forsaken frontier regions of Turkana, Lamu and Ukambani found a reason to smile.

2013 presented perhaps the biggest leadership test ever for Kenya. It saw the National Assembly make laws that threatened the very essence of democracy – press freedom. It recorded some of the strangest occurrences in our foreign affairs realm especially on the issue of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The year started with high voltage politics as the country prepared for the General Election. I was among the few leaders who had earlier on declared an interest in the presidency. However, I eventually teamed up with Raila Odinga and Moses Wetang’ula to form a formidable team under the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD).

The first quarter of the year was extremely exhausting. Gruelling political campaigns came with excitement as we planned for the presidency. We launched one of the most powerful political machines ever. We were confident CORD commanded the biggest national following in Kenya and were assured of winning at the ballot. I believe CORD won but our victory was stolen.

Divided nation

The March 4 elections deepened my sorrow. The elections revealed that Kenyans never learnt any lessons from the ugly 2007-08 post-election violence. The management of the elections left the country more divided than ever before. One of my biggest disappointments came when the Supreme Court ruled that Uhuru Kenyatta had been validly elected as Kenya’s fourth president.

Before the dust could settle on the Supreme Court ruling blow, the Wiper Party lost one of its greatest leaders, my best friend Senior Counsel Mutula Kilonzo. The circumstances surrounding his death remain mysterious and I hope that the truth will come out soon. Mutula’s death and the loss at the polls marked my lowest moments in 2013.

The government then seemed to focus all its energies on the ICC case against President Uhuru  and his deputy William Ruto. If Uhuru and Ruto had taken what the media calls my ICC shuttle diplomacy work seriously, Kenya would not have had to spend the millions it has trying once again to gain African Union support against the ICC and appealing for deferral at the UN Security Council.

It is clear that Kenyan lawyers misled the president and his deputy over the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute (ASP). Kenya had hoped that the ASP would approve proposals that would lead to the amendments to the Rome Statutes providing immunity for trial to sitting heads of state.

Kenya only notified the assembly of its proposals in October 2013 while the meeting was slated for November. The rules require a three-month notice. The requests for deferral were therefore rejected.

Diplomatic tensions

The handling of the ICC case, the treatment of Western envoys, the endearment by Kenya to China while wagging a finger at the US, Britain and France are clear indicators that more needs to be done in the arena of diplomacy. My prayer is that whichever way the ICC cases go, Kenya will remain united. I hope that at the end of the case, both the accused and the Internally Displaced Persons will get justice.

In 2013, Kenya was gripped in a vicious cycle of crime wave, ethnic animosity and a crisis of leadership. The September 21 terrorist attack on the Westgate Mall and the murders and kidnappings across the nation have given Kenya a bad name. Ethnic tensions in northern Kenya, religious intolerance at the Coast, international and diplomatic tensions around the ICC chipped away the good name of our country.

Mwai Kibaki left the scene quietly after 10 years as president, five under the grand coalition. Kibaki had recorded several successes especially in infrastructure development. He, however, had a dismal record in reconciling and uniting Kenyans. The events that led to the formation of the coalition left the country bruised and hurting. We went to the 2013 elections and emerged more tribal and divided than ever.

Today, some leaders have abandoned the ideals and dreams of the struggle for self-determination. They continued, even in 2013, to use their positions to serve narrow and selfish goals. Every election cycle they drum up support from the citizens only to turn their victory into yet another opportunity to feather their own nests. The evidence is everywhere; national resources converted into personal property, displays of questionable wealth.

Kenya belongs to all its citizens. Together we can turn the tide and get the wheels of progress, prosperity and equity moving faster to transform this nation into an African industrial giant.

It is a sad irony that in 1963, when I was 10 years old, Kenyans collectively sighed with relief at the arrival of independence. The founding father of the nation, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, identified Kenya’s new enemies as: poverty, disease and ignorance to be fought tooth and nail. These same enemies have choked the country more viciously 50 years later.

Nevertheless, being out of a busy office has given me a chance to pause, think, reflect and meditate about life, leadership and the nation of Kenya. The year 2013 has given me more reason to ponder about Kenya and our future as a nation. Kenyans need to forgive each other. We need to ensure that justice prevails. We can chart a new roadmap for our country’s future.

Instead of forgiveness, many Kenyans are still cursing and crying about cases of grand corruption. Unless we lynch the monster of corruption, Kenyans will never really be free. We must all rise up to set an example as the real slayers of corruption and the ethnicity monsters. We must re-ignite within our leadership at the family, political, religious and business level, the ability to be ashamed of any acts that bring disgrace and disrepute to our country. Corruption in any form is something to be ashamed of.

Regional stability

The launch of the new railway line project is great for this nation. However, it comes in the backdrop of a dangerously divided nation. Great roads and infrastructure network are useless in a divided nation. We need to hasten our reconciliatory efforts.

Tragically the year is ending with conflict rearing its ugly head again in Southern Sudan. As Foreign Affairs minister, I worked hard to lead neighbouring countries towards peace and economic cooperation. I spent days on end to reach an acceptable accord. The many international meetings and conferences I attended as well as my work on the Great Lakes Peace Process and the Sudan Peace Protocols helped me understand our strategic position as a nation and our inextricable connection with our neighbours. We must pray for peace in the Sudan.

As we enter the New Year 2014, it is my hope that we shall one day become one people. It is my hope that the curse of corruption at the top and authoritarianism will be finally lifted. I hope that the new year will free us from the vicious chains of crime, poverty and tribalism.     

The death of Nelson Mandela gives us an opportunity to reignite efforts to heal our nation. In order to keep the leadership embers of Mandela burning, I will fight against tribal hegemony and domination. We must guard against the establishment of a tribal apartheid fuelled by the tyranny of numbers.

From Mandela’s death, I will enhance my efforts, through the Kalonzo Musyoka Foundation, of building a united Kenya. Domination of one or two tribes over others is just as dangerous and as ugly as domination of one race over another. We must not allow our own version of Kenyan apartheid to take root. 

Most Kenyans, led by some leaders, have embraced greed and impatience as national values. My biggest desire is to see the day that Kenyans will restore the key values of honesty, integrity, hard work and humility.

The former Vice President Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka will launch his autobiography: Against All Odds, the Story of Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, in January 2014.

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