News 2008


Politicians must not rock the boat

March 12, 2008


A statement by the Head of the Civil Service on the power-sharing deal rekindled disagreements we thought would not come so soon after the political pact between President Kibaki and Prime Minister-designate Raila Odinga.

Mr Francis Muthaura’s clarification on the structure of Government — following speculation in the media about the roles of the President, Vice-President and proposed Prime Minister — rubbed a section of the Orange Democratic Movement the wrong way. So did his comments that the February 28 National Accord and Reconciliation Agreement did not include sharing of jobs in the Public Service.

It is thus clear that the interpretation and understanding of the agreement on both sides or sections of them are not the same. This is alarming considering the violence and mayhem that followed the General Election. Both sides of the political divide must weigh their statements carefully and seek leadership from the principals.

Since the agreement was signed, the country has heaved a sigh of relief. The closeness between President Kibaki and Raila has been evident. The two hitherto protagonists, the Party of National Unity (PNU) and ODM, have exhibited a thawing of relations and even held a joint parliamentary group meeting.

The effect of these overtures on the nation has been phenomenal. However, suspicion and mistrust are not far from the surface and any misunderstanding, however, simple could explode into exchanges that could inflame passions nationally.

We ask those jostling for and protecting their positions to be aware of the bigger national picture. It is encouraging that a six-member team, three from PNU and three from ODM, has been meeting to harmonise the election manifestos of the major political parties.

The outcome will guide policy on the programmes that the coalition Government will implement. In a way, each political party will, therefore, influence policy and governance.

It is also important to point out that consultation is going on over sharing of Cabinet portfolios. This is as it should be — where consultation and dialogue take place, there is likely to be an acceptable solution for the parties involved.

It is the hope of Kenyans, and this should also be the case for political parties and politicians, that the deal works.

After what the country went through in January, politicians owe it to the people to work together at dispelling misunderstandings and offering clarifications.

If our leaders could only understand the fears and expectations of the people, they would do nothing to rock the boat at a time when the vessel has shown signs of smooth sailing.