Sunday, April 20, 2008


There are voices who, rightly point out that ODM was short changed in the sharing of Cabinet positions. With most people citing the beefy positions that went to a PNU clique from the Mount Kenya region.

And then there are also these grumblings of south rift leaders threating to form their on party because they felt short changed? I am not sure, but maybe Kenyans might as well give each VILLAGE CHIEF a ministerial position, full with assistant minister-in tow and Ps! or something of that sort, if this is where we are headed.

The story that five MPs and more than 100 councillors were threatening to withdraw their support for ODM over Cabinet appointments was a cheap blackmail attempt by these so called leaders to say the least. The current and former MPs from the South Rift accused Prime Minister, Mr Raila Odinga, of sidelining the Kipsigis. "The community got a raw deal in the appointments," they said in a statement read by Chepalungu MP, Mr Isaac Ruto.

Speaking at Tea Research Foundation, Kericho, on Saturday, they called for a political party for the community. The Konoin MP, Dr Julius Kones, said the community would use the by-elections in Ainamoi and Trans Mara to stamp their authority. Among the MPs at the meeting were Mr Franklin Bett (Buret), Mr Magerer Lang’at (Kipkelion), Mr Zakayo Cheruiyot (Kuresoi)and former MPs, Mr Paul Sang and Mr John Terer.

These leaders said they held Raila responsible for shortchanging the community.In the region, only Bomet MP, Mr Kipkalya Kones, is a cabinet minister (Roads), while Mr Charles Keter (Belgut) and his Sotik counterpart, Mrs Lorna Laboso, were appointed assistant ministers in the ministry of Energy and office of the Vice-President respectively. On Thursday, ten MPs from the Rift Valley raised concern over Cabinet appointments, saying they were shortchanged.

Meanwhile, Budalang’i MP, Mr Ababu Namwamba, has asked Raila to contact ODM MPs who missed the appointments and assure them that all was not lost. "We have many other opportunities and all is not lost for the MPs who missed Cabinet appointments. That is what our PM should tell them now," said Namwamba.

Back to the accord-the National Reconciliation Act provides for a sharing of executive authority between Kibaki and Raila. The President remains the Head of State, but the responsibility of running the country is clearly shared between the two. This is a salient point which needs to be fore grounded in any discussion about the power sharing deal for it has far reaching implications on how the country will be managed henceforth.

That is why it is important for all Kenyans to know that for once we have a governance arrangement where the President will not enjoy the sweeping powers that have traditionally been associated with his office. The sweeping presidential powers have been the cause of many of our problems. The existence of a Prime Minister who the Constitution now fully recognizes as holding executive power means that the President’s sole imperial responsibility of running the State and Government has been moderated.

African states have failed in the past to institutionalize democracy due to the imperial powers held by those in the presidency. The provisions of the National Reconciliation Act have undoubtedly given Kenya an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen democracy, accountable leadership and to take a lead role in showing Africa that new beginnings are possible. Additionally, the Act gives this country a new impetus to move a way from the impunity of the past while introducing measures for a fair system of rule where the President will directly account to some other authority by way of consultation and teamwork.

Africa’s history is full of fine examples of leaders who hold unfettered power, which they have tended to use in ways that have brought disrepute, suffering and reduced freedoms to their peoples. This is what has led to the ills of cronyism and patronage. Presidents have tended to use their powerful positions to reward and punish according to their whims thus stifling alternative voices of reason.

The creation of the premier’s office provides real possibilities for minimizing unaccountable leadership and fostering openness and consultation as a vital process in governance. This way of running Government business does provide for automatic checks and balances in the decision making and governance processes thus eliminating despondency.

Another point to make is that, although PNU took the politically strategic ministries of Defence, Finance and Justice, this does not necessarily make the party privileged. ODM’s haul of infrastructural and service oriented positions of Agriculture, Local Government, Tourism, Water, Roads and Public Works, indeed does put it in better stead to push a strong development agenda based on equity and fair distribution and utilization of national resources for the benefit of a majority of Kenyans.

Also another factor to consider is the aggregate annual budgetary allocations to the ministries taken by ODM against those with PNU. There is negligible difference in this regard, meaning that none of the parties was handed a raw deal. This is an important point considering that both parties would want to have a direct say on how and where Government resources are used.

It is only fair and correct to say that real power sharing is not exactly in the sharing of Cabinet positions. The real power sharing is in the possibilities for responsibility sharing between the Prime Minister and the President.

The debate around Cabinet appointments did miss these points, yet these are precisely what has redefined the country’s political and governance landscape.

PS:We need to remind the idler-MPs that, there lie a head a daunting task of rebuilding a new Kenya's socio-economic, infrastructure, tackle unemployment, correct the historical injustices over land/resources distribution, resettlement of the IDPs et cetera et cetera. The time to start working was yesterday! Instead of throwing tantrums and issuing meaningless press reports lets come together for the good of the nation. These are distractions we can ill afford at this juncture.

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