Friday, March 7, 2008


After the post-election violence in Kenya and the long-drawn negotiations leading to the restoration of peace, the excitement is over and the hard work MUST BEGIN. It is hoped that the political actors have listened to the people’s message and are acting accordingly.But you will be surprised,as N.Mutonya, B.Namunane and M.Wachira of Daily Nation put it.

The people, of course, excluding the hawks on both sides of the political divide who wish to pull the others back to the anarchy trenches for selfish interests. The hawks will always be there, and they will throw tantrums and put logs in the way of reconstruction, if only to remain relevant. The new political dispensation calls for off-loading excess baggage by both camps so that the principals may chart a new course for Kenya. By holding court privately, the President and the Prime Minister-designate have shown that they intend to take charge of the country’s political transformation. They have the moral advantage of being perceived by Kenyans to be the midwives of the deal they brought about when there were doubts about its sustenance.

They must continue to use this advantage not for short-term political gains, but to entrench the new political reality into the foundations of a new constitution that can serve Kenyans for the next 50 years at least. They must also navigate dexterously in the sea of anxiety among politicians used to fawning or trashing opponents. Such politicians must now accede to the new political order because the people owe them nothing.

The new political dispensation should hopefully destroy the current patronage lines, although new ones will emerge, but the two political peaks must resist the temptation of putting self ahead of public interest for it to succeed. The two men have the opportunity to establish a legacy that will serve the country for generations — just as Xanana Gusmao and Ramos Horta did for East Timor at a time of need. Kenyans do not expect less.

Pictures from all over the country of people screaming in ecstasy about the signing of the power-sharing pact and the almost magical switching off of hostilities sends the clear message that they demand leadership from politicians. The agreement to set up a truth and reconciliation committee and hold joint meetings by the parliamentary groups is a clear sign that there are serious attempts to move on.

In Mwanza-Tanzania, where the experts were discussing the region’s infrastructure, the mood was one of cautious camaraderie about the Kenyan experience. "We are glad the madness is over and lessons have been learnt, but the whole region must learn to listen to what the people say", they said. Peace cannot be taken for granted. Last weekend, Hillary Namanje and Joel Godiah presented a comedy to a full house at Mombasa’s Little Theatre Club, tritled Cash on Delivery by Michael Cooney. The wildly acclaimed play had the hall in stitches in true celebration of the reduced tension in the country. Those are the little things that we took for granted until a few months ago.

Now that the smile is back on Kenyans’ faces and politicians seem to be setting the country back on course, one can only hope that the past is behind us and that a new constitutional dispensation has arrived. But wait,there are already reports that the so called "bigwigs" are at it again, shamelessly watering their mouths with petty parochial deals. The lot cares less about the position the country is/was in and are absent in their God given minds on doing the responsible thing. Changing the nation for the better, not necessarily for them only but for the generations to come.
Key leaders from both sides of the political divide have quietly been staking their claim to the two posts of deputy premier which are to be shared between the PNU-Government and ODM. The post is attractive as the holders will rank higher than Cabinet ministers and one of them will be assigned to sit in for the premier whenever he is not available.

Lobbying for slots

Similar lobbying has been going on for ministerial slots and those of assistant ministers. Sources indicated that President Kibaki is set to increase the number of Cabinet slots to a whooping 36 when he names the new Government.

The quest for the deputy premier’s seat has brought into focus intra-party rivalry, heightened the political ambitions of women MPs and stirred the hopes of youthful leaders in the 10th Parliament.

Names of Cabinet ministers M. Karua, K. Murungi, U. Kenyatta and G. Saitoti have been mentioned in lobbying sessions on the PNU side while those of MPs M. Mudavadi and W. Ruto are on the lips of their supporters in ODM.

The PNU affiliate parties — Narc Kenya, Kanu, Ford Kenya, Safina and Democratic Party — have been caucusing in the week with a view to laying claim to the one slot awarded to their side in the power-sharing agreement signed by President Kibaki and Mr Odinga on Thursday last week.

On Friday, a Kanu parliamentary group meeting at the Panafric Hotel resolved to lobby for Mr Kenyatta, the party’s chairman, to be appointed the deputy premier.

“After ODM, PNU and ODM Kenya, we are the senior-most party in Parliament with 15 MPs,” Igembe South MP Mithuka Rinturi said.

He argued that President Kibaki is a PNU member, ODM was set to land the seats of prime minister and deputy premier while Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka is the ODM-K leader. “So Kanu deserves the deputy PM post,” the MP said.

Across the road at Milimani Hotel, Ministers Kenyatta (Local Government), Karua (Justice and Constitutional Affairs), Amos Kimunya (Finance) and Murungi (Energy) were meeting over what was believed to be part of lobbying for the deputy PM’s post.

Sources close to the leaders said the real battle may end up being between Mr Murungi and Ms Karua, on grounds that Mr Murungi represents the wider Meru region while the Constitutional Affairs minister represents women.

Women representation

Speaking separately, Dagoretti MP Beth Mugo said women were gunning for one of their own to be named the deputy premier. This, she argued, will be in line with the policy of one-third of women representation in leadership.

“We are claiming the position of deputy prime minister. There are five top positions — the President, Vice President, Prime Minister and two deputy premiers – and one must go to a woman. This is the time to look the leaders in the eye so that they live up to their pledges,” she said.

It is also understood that Narc Kenya held a meeting on Tuesday under the chairmanship of former vice-president Moody Awori during which the party MPs demanded the deputy PM’s post. They argued that they were short-changed in the naming of Cabinet positions despite being the biggest partner in PNU with 25 MPs.

Over in ODM, the decision by Mr Ruto’s supporters to push the Eldoret North MP into the fray for the position has added a new twist to the arrangement in the party. As the presidential running mate, Sabatia MP Mudavadi was slated for the seat.

Aware of the entry of Mr Ruto, ODM legislators from Western Province met on Monday at a hotel in Kileleshwa where they resolved that Mr Mudavadi was entitled to the seat given his rank in the party.

Deputy captain

Said Nambale MP Chris Okemo: “We agreed on a number of things, among them that Mr Mudavadi as the deputy captain must become the deputy PM. There is no compromise on that issue.” The MPs, it is understood, agreed on the number of ministerial seats, slots for permanent secretaries and other key positions in parastatals that they deserve.

However, Rift Valley MPs who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said the scenario has since changed and Mr Ruto deserves the seat. They argued that Mr Odinga was enjoying the fruits of political leadership that was won by votes from the Rift Valley and it was only fair that one of their sons be given a top position. “This war was won by the Rift Valley and Mr Ruto has done all it takes to be a deputy prime minister,” said one of the MPs.

They further argued that Western province has under its wraps a powerful seat in National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende. “It is only being fair to Rift Valley and the votes that Mr Ruto commands,” the MP added.

Although it has been understood that Mr Odinga has assured Mr Mudavadi that he will respect the party hierarchy, sources said the matter is likely to be discussed by the ODM parliamentary group.

A similar battle, albeit at a lower level, is being fought by MPs from PNU, ODM and ODM-K for the yet to be named expanded Cabinet. Although matters appear to be easier for President Kibaki since he already has 17 ministers, sources said he is now in a dilemma over who to drop and who to pick.

At hand are the expectations of affiliate parties such as Safina and Ford Kenya, women MPs and the youthful politicians. Safina lawmakers held a meeting last Saturday where they declared that they must get a slot in the Cabinet with names of MPs Lenny Kivuti (Siakago) and Kabando wa Kabando (Mukurwe-ini) being mentioned.

Ford-K are expecting their chairman, Mr Musikari Kombo, who was nominated to the House on a PNU ticket to be given a Cabinet slot in the new government. Said Kimilili MP David Eseli Simiyu: “Our party delivered many votes to the President in spite of the wave of ODM in Western province and it is only logical that our chairman gets a Cabinet seat. That is the least we expect.”

Youthful politicians Mwangi Kiunjuri, Danson Mungatana, Metito ole Katoo, Aden Sugow and Cecily Mbarire are also expecting that one of them will get a full ministerial position. Their argument is that the half cabinet that was named by the President after the elections excluded them yet their contribution to the PNU vote was enormous.

Agenda for youth

Said Mr Katoo: “We are really expecting the youth to be represented in the expanded Cabinet. Since all the parties are harmonising their manifestos which had a clear agenda for the youth, we expect to be recognised.” The four MPs were assistant ministers in the previous government.

Things are a little thicker in ODM as Mr Odinga prepares to forward names of his nominees to President Kibaki for appointment. MPs from eight regions have been holding caucuses to stake their claim on the seats.

In the Rift Valley, those at the fore-front are MPs Ruto, Henry Kosgey (Tinderet), Sally Kosgei (Aldai) and Charles Keter (Belgut). While Mr Ruto deserves the seat for his role and status in the region, Mr Kosgey is a senior politician who is also the ODM chairman.

Ms Kosgei, who is also a Nandi like Mr Kosgey, carries the hat of women and national stature to stake claim.

Mr Keter, the only MP to successfully defend his seat in the larger Kericho, represents the bigger Kipsigis community. He embodies youth, political experience and professionalism that ODM stated in its rallying mantra of real change.

On the fringes are veteran MPs Kipkalya Kones (Bomet) , Franklin Bett (Buret) and new comers Margaret Kamar (Eldoret East) and Lorna Laboso (Sotik). However, a delicate balancing act must be performed act among the sub-ethnic groups in the community. It is likely that the region will get five slots.

But their Nyanza counterparts argue that Rift Valley province should not be given five slots because they are already represented in government. Ndhiwa MP Orwa Ojode said that it is Nyanza—in fact Luo Nyanza—that deserves at least six ministerial positions.

Left out

“Nyanza deserves about six seats in order to get fair representation in the new coalition government. For instance, if Rift Valley has to get five slots, they will add to those they have in Ministers John Munyes, Poghisio, Asman Kamama, Noah Wekesa and George Saitoti. Kisii has (Sam) Ongeri. It is only Luo Nyanza that was completely left out of Kibaki’s government,” he said.

Those being lined up for ministerial positions are Mr Ojode, Anyang Nyong’o, Omingo Magara, Dalmas Otieno and Chris Obure.

In the neighbouring Western Province, they have identified Mr Mudavadi, Mr Okemo—because of their seniority and past experience in politics— and Butere MP Wycliffe Oparanya for ministerial positions. Others who may be considered are Webuye’s Alfred Sambu and Funyula’s Paul Otuoma.

From Coast Province, those who are likely to fly ministerial flags are Mvita MP Najib Balala—a member of the ODM Pentagon— and Mwatate’s Calist Mwatela. In Eastern, Narc chairperson Charity Ngilu is slated for a post as is Nominated MP Joseph Nyagah while Nairobi has on its list Mr Odinga and Westlands MP Fred Gumo.

In North Eastern Province, former district commissioner Aden Duale who is now the Dujis MP stands high chances.

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